The Bulletin’s decision to only allow a discourse on climate change that is rooted in fact is a welcome change. This is an end to a manufactured debate meant to confuse the public and delay a transition away from fossil fuels. Yet, taking to heart the overwhelming scientific evidence that human activity is dangerously warming the globe means also implies understanding that we have a short window to reduce climate pollution at every level.
After more than ten years of study, debate, listening,and compromise Oregon’s legislature has arrived at Senate Bill 1530, legislation that goes a long way toward Oregon’s responsibility to address pollution and do our part on global warming. The crafters of this bill have engaged agriculture, timber, businesses, trucking, ranchers, low income communities, and more. At a time when we need urgent, strong action, Oregon’s progress on this bill may again be derailed by partisan bickering and delay.
Working together has never been more important. We need to pass this bill to hold Oregon’s top polluters accountable for what they’re putting into our air. Our communities need reinvestment in clean transportation, energy, farms, and forests. This cap-and-invest program will lower pollution while helping fund the transition to a clean energy economy.
Increasing options are available in efficiency, electrification, and clean fuels, which also help the economy by creating local jobs and lowering energy costs. Truck and automakers are increasing engine efficiency and trending towards electrification. Proceeds from cap-and-invest encourage programs to enable this transition.
In 11 other states cap-and-invest is working to lower pollution while their economies are growing. Virginia, and Pennsylvania are currently looking to join a successful cap-and-invest program in the East. Manufacturing has grown under California’s cap-and-invest. Transportation and freight firms like UPS and Walmart are adapting with fleet electrification which is reducing their maintenance costs.
This year’s climate bill contains compromises to Republicans so that only oil companies serving the Portland-metro will be accountable in the program’s first few years, beginning in 2022. Then most counties west of the Cascades join in 2025. Oil companies serving the Bend metro area won’t be held accountable until 2028. There is currently no plan to include counties east of the Cascades. However, because oil companies won’t be held accountable for creating revenues from their pollution, our areas will not see the significant investments that western Oregon will enjoy. This may satisfy polluters, but it also means that rural counties will be largely excluded from receiving the investment dollars that would help our communities transition to more modern transportation options and funding to protect against future climate disasters, like the flooding in the northeastern corner of the state this winter.
It’s time we all transition from polluting emissions that hurt our air, our health, and planet. Waiting is not a solution. It results in more climate hardship from wildfires, flooding, drought, economic impacts, and health consequences. We can begin to do our part for the planet with the reinvestments from SB1530. A Climate Reinvestment Fund will help low income, highly impacted communities that suffer the most. This is expected to be available to all communities, both rural and urban.
Some legislators are already working hard on this bill. I hope ALL of our legislators will roll up their sleeves and do the work to pass SB 1530. We can’t run away from global warming.