The State of Oregon is on the cusp of a huge climate action breakthrough.
House Bill 2020 — which would make Oregon the second state in the country to adopt a cap and invest system for pollution reduction — is on its way to the floor of the Oregon State House for a vote after passing out of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means today. The legislation is a major Democratic priority for 2019.
“Climate change threatens our communities, our economy, our ecosystems, and our way of life in Oregon,” said Governor Kate Brown in a statement.
“We have an enormous opportunity to forge a new path on state-level programs to address this crisis. Oregon can be the log that breaks the jam nationally in creating a tailored statewide program that can meet science-based emissions reduction goals while growing the economy and investing in clean energy solutions, rural and coastal communities, and impacted communities.”
“Future generations here in Oregon — and across the United States — deserve us to not just think about their future, but to fight to protect it.”
“I look forward to signing this landmark legislation later this month.”
If you haven’t been tracking the evolution of HB 2020 in the Oregon statehouse, here’s a quick primer on the bill from Joshua Skov, who serves on the faculty of the Lundquist College of Business and the Center for Sustainable Business Practices at the University of Oregon. Skov is a longtime advocate for sustainability.
“HB 2020 is an Oregon version of California’s AB 32, the landmark cap-and-trade legislation,” Skov explained in an April commentary. “It will cap total greenhouse gas emissions, auction permits for the right to emit, and use those auction proceeds to invest in an equitable transition to a low-[polluting] economy.”
“HB 2020 deserves our support, but it also deserves scrutiny in the home stretch. I encourage you to contact your legislators to express support for the bill, as it remains the best chance yet for Oregon to join climate leaders around the world with strong policy action on one of the great challenges of our time.”
Jaime Athos, CEO of Hood River based Tofurky, says the legislation is a huge opportunity for rural communities in Oregon and companies that want to bring jobs to those communities to ensure broad prosperity for all.
“I want rural Oregon’s manufacturers to succeed. I want companies like mine to be able to expand and hire more workers across the county,” Athos wrote in an op-ed last month. “This legislative session, lawmakers in Salem can help local businesses achieve these goals by passing the HB 2020 cap-and-invest bill.”
Athos’ company decided ten years ago to make a big bet on clean energy. They spent money on a new building built to LEED standards with rooftop solar and a super efficient HVAC system and refrigeration system. The result? They achieved annual savings of forty to fifty percent on their energy bills, enabling them to expand their payroll and offer more jobs to people in Hood River.
“If HB 2020 passes, more rural Oregon manufacturers in Hood River County and elsewhere could benefit by investing the bill’s proceeds in similar energy upgrades,” Athos says. “This saves companies money over the long haul, freeing up capital to grow operations and create jobs. Even when they’re not in-house, these jobs matter to rural communities. Just think about the installers who drilled solar panel racking onto our rooftop, or the HVAC technicians who installed our ductwork.”
Athos is absolutely correct. A just and responsible transition to clean energy could be a massive boon for Cascadia’s small towns and small businesses.
This is an opportunity we must not squander. Good jobs and cleaner air go hand in hand. If we want healthy communities, then we need to substantially reduce or end unsustainable activities that pollute our atmosphere, our rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans, and our soil. HB 2020 will help transform our region for the better.
It’s time to accelerate the clean energy revolution in the Pacific Northwest! Let’s get HB 2020 passed and to the desk of Governor Kate Brown to be signed into law.