This year, our legislators have a chance to take significant action on climate pollution while also boosting our local economies. We support legislation that would help reduce the pollution that is the primary cause of climate change. Such legislation can also create thousands of jobs by encouraging investment in cleaner energy sources, greater energy efficiency, and upgrading rural infrastructure threatened by a changing climate. In addition, it should keep more of the money we spend on energy working for us inside our state, instead of enriching giant out-of-state companies and CEOs. A Clean Energy Jobs bill would achieve these goals in a way that reduces the impact on Oregon residents while having the largest polluters do their fair share.
As our elected leaders pursue legislation to cap and price climate pollution, the following standards must be met:
● Set a declining limit or ‘cap’ on Oregon’s climate pollution based on the best available science. The cap should decline steadily, allowing less pollution every year, with interim targets that approach zero by 2050. Oregon must do its share in reducing climate pollution to limit the ongoing increase in Earth’s average temperature to less than 2 degrees C (3.6 F).
● All major polluters must reduce pollution and pay their fair share. No communities should be left with an unfair burden of pollution. The price that utilities, fossil fuel companies, and the largest polluters pay when they pollute should be relatively stable and be adjusted over time to ensure that the cap is not exceeded. Companies that face direct out-of-state competition should be able to apply for free or subsidized pollution permits to level the playing field.
● Proceeds must be reinvested into the communities most in need, to help transition to clean energy and prepare for a changing climate. Proceeds should create opportunities for communities that are most affected by climate change and energy costs, including low-income, rural, communities of color, and impacted workers. Proceeds must go to these Oregonians, and technical assistance should be provided to county governments, municipalities, nonprofits and small businesses so that they can apply these funds to appropriate projects.
● A fair transition to a clean energy economy must leave no one behind. As we transition our state to a clean energy economy and as the impacts of climate change intensify, some sectors will be hit harder than others. It is important that workers and rural communities are provided with transition and retraining support by expanding access to apprenticeship and training programs. While a transition to clean energy will in the long term be cheaper than relying on aging out-of-state coal plants and new natural gas facilities, in the short term we must ensure that low-income Oregonians are protected from any energy rate increases.
● Administration of the program must be effective and accountable. Disproportionately affected populations such as rural, low-income, and communities of color must have meaningful representation in decision-making bodies for both policy and fund allocation. The administration of the programs must have adequate resources, paid for by pollution fees.
Our organization signs on to the above principles for pursuing a legislative vehicle for capping and pricing climate pollution in Oregon: