Agencies, Commissions, Boards Involved: Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT)/ Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC); Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD)/ Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC); Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)/ Environmental Quality Commission (EQC); Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) 

POSITIVE_SIGN.pngWhat’s going well:

Soon after OCAP was signed, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) formed a new Climate Office to oversee implementation of the agency’s OCAP directives. ODOT also convened a Transportation Electrification Infrastructure Needs Analysis (TEINA) advisory group following the timeline directed under OCAP. 

We were pleased to see the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) form a Rulemaking Advisory Committee for its “Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities” rulemaking that is diverse and includes representatives from a wide variety of perspectives. Importantly, the agency is providing stipends (funded by the ODOT Climate Office) to participants representing underserved communities. 

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which is part of the multi-agency workgroup tasked with incorporating and prioritizing greenhouse gas emissions reduction performance metrics in the implementation of the Statewide Transportation Strategy (STS), is working to advance a strategy for reducing emissions from medium and heavy duty trucks. The plan includes replacing and retiring the oldest diesel engines; adopting new and cleaner technologies; and supporting owners and operators to transition their fleets. 

DEQ has also completed a rulemaking to accelerate transportation electrification through the Clean Fuels Program. Accelerating the generation of Clean Fuels credits means more opportunities to invest in transportation electrification around the state, which will help Oregon reach the goal of ensuring that at least 250,000 registered motor vehicles in Oregon are zero-emission by 2025, and that at least 50% of the new motor vehicles sold annually in the state are zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

Lastly, we commend ODOT, DLCD, DEQ and the Department of Energy (ODOE) for advancing strong community engagement processes in their Every Mile Counts activities and are hopeful that this approach will ultimately become standard practice for community engagement across all agencies. 

Areas for improvement:

Despite the above progress on individual directives within OCAP, the primary authorities charged with transportation decisions--ODOT leadership and the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC)--have not yet demonstrated a commitment to making the big, structural changes needed to maximize positive effects on equity and air quality and effectively reduce emissions from our largest polluting sector. 

While ODOT’s Climate Office has produced helpful analysis to inform ODOT and OTC policy and funding decisions, climate and emissions reductions are merely being considered--rather than prioritized--in decision-making on high-level revenue and investment decisions. ODOT has not demonstrated willingness to make investment and policy decisions that fully prioritize climate and equity outcomes.

An example of where the OTC had a decision point that could have reflected this new prioritization of climate and equity was  in the 2024-2027 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) funding allocation decision on December 15, 2020. Despite robust oral testimony and hundreds of pages of comments in support of the funding scenario that ODOT ranked highest for creating more equitable, climate-smart transportation options (e.g. public transit, biking and walking projects), the OTC voted to adopt a funding scenario that--while improved from previous allocations--does not go nearly far enough to shift transportation investments through 2027. Moreover, ODOT continues to invest in projects that add road capacity, which encourages more driving rather than managing demand. 

Further, in the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD)’s “Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities” rulemaking, there is concern that DLCD and ODOT may be punting responsibility to local governments to address GHG emissions, without providing clear and sufficiently bold performance metrics or resources to do so.  DLCD is missing the opportunity to lead with a vision of compact, walkable neighborhoods with equitable, affordable, and accessible housing and transportation choices.  

In its 2021 transportation electrification rulemaking, DEQ proposed draft rules that will encourage and accelerate transportation electrification. While there were a variety of groups and interests represented in the Rulemaking Advisory Committee, we would like to see greater capacity-building with community stakeholders ahead of future rulemakings. Advance engagement can help ensure that community stakeholders have the necessary background to fully participate in rulemaking or other processes that support transportation electrification and other benefits in their communities. 

Moreover, while the above agencies have made important progress in prioritizing strong community engagement processes, these practices are not yet being applied in a standardized way. For example, not all agencies have committed to adopting best practices such as compensating community members for their time. Many agencies also still tend to rely on the same handful of people as “equity” representatives, which limits the perspectives at the table and overburdens those few people. Since a single “equity” representative cannot represent all underserved communities, it is important to ensure that agencies are reaching out to and building capacity in a variety of communities to achieve a more equitable engagement process. OCAP coalition advocates stand ready to partner with the agencies on this important work.  

Opportunities for progress:

With a number of transportation-focused rulemaking processes and decision-points upcoming in 2021, there are many near-term opportunities for our state decision-makers to demonstrate their commitment to prioritizing equitable outcomes and reducing emissions from our biggest polluting sector. In the coming months, we will be prioritizing our advocacy engagement to ensure that:

  • ODOT demonstrates a commitment to prioritizing climate and equity outcomes in decision-making, including through:

    Choosing in any of its investment opportunities (STIP categories, spending of COVID relief funding, major projects such as the I-5 Bridge Replacement, etc.) to prioritize (instead of just consider) climate and equity.
    Meaningfully incorporating climate and equity into major changes to revenue and pricing decisions such as congestion pricing and road user charges.

  • ODOT and partner agencies release a mid-term Statewide Transportation Strategy report with meaningful next steps on climate pollution reduction and equitable solutions that expand transportation options for all Oregonians.
  • EQC adopts new standards to increase electrification and reduce pollution from medium and heavy-duty trucks by the end of this year, if not sooner.
  • DEQ implements an equitable and actionable Medium- and Heavy-Duty ZEV Action Plan.
  • DLCD Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities rulemaking delivers strong, actionable rules tied to funding that clearly push jurisdictions to reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled through integrated land use and transportation planning that emphasizes  equitable outcomes.
  • As part of the Equity Advisory Committee proposed in its Clean Fuels Program transportation electrification draft rules, DEQ creates an opportunity for compensated capacity-building for community groups who have not been able to participate in the Clean Fuels Program processes or credit expenditures. This will require new resources for the agency and/or partnerships with participating stakeholders, such as utilities.
  • DEQ kicks off Clean Fuels Program rulemaking to expand fuel choices that cut climate and air pollution throughout Oregon, with a Rulemaking Advisory Committee that includes diverse perspectives and equitable stakeholder engagement.
  • The strong community engagement approaches in the Every Mile Counts processes are incorporated into all agency (ODOT, DEQ, DLCD, ODOE) activities to comprehensively deliver bold GHG reduction and social equity outcomes.

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