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Conservation Groups Praise OR Governor's Climate Action

Gov. Kate Brown kept her promise to enact sweeping climate action if it didn't come from the Oregon Legislature this year. (Oregon Dept. of Transportation/Flickr)
Gov. Kate Brown kept her promise to enact sweeping climate action if it didn't come from the Oregon Legislature this year. (Oregon Dept. of Transportation/Flickr)
March 11, 2020

SALEM, Ore. -- Stymied at the Oregon Legislature, conservation groups are celebrating an extensive list of climate actions from Gov. Kate Brown.

Brown has announced an executive order that spans multiple business sectors to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. It includes expanding the Clean Fuels Program to lower pollution 25% by 2030, strengthening requirements for buildings to produce as much clean energy as they use by 2030, and an ultimate carbon-reduction goal of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Brad Reed, communications director of Renew Oregon, said it's a comprehensive order.

"She's directing the entire apparatus of the state -- from the Department of Energy, Department of Environmental Quality to Department of Transportation -- to meet those goals in everything that they do," Reed said.

The announcement makes good on Brown's promise last year to take sweeping climate action if lawmakers failed to pass legislation. Republicans walked out over a cap-and-trade bill they said would saddle their constituents with increased fuel costs.

Environmental groups -- including the Union of Concerned Scientists, Oregon Business for Climate and Sustainable Northwest -- have praised the announcement, but also expressed disappointment that the legislative pathway was blocked. Still, Reed said he believes Brown has taken the most ambitious climate action in Oregon history.

"We're in a climate emergency. We're out of time," he said. "Oregonians have demanded this for years, and she's stepping up. And there will be work still to do, certainly, for the Legislature and for advocates."

Two ballot measures from Renew Oregon still are proceeding. One would ensure the state relies solely on clean energy by 2045; the other would create a target of a 100% clean economy by 2050. In light of Brown's executive order, Reed said his organization is reconsidering how to move forward with those measures.

Brown's executive order is online at google.com.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR