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Oregon Grades Mixed on Clean-Energy Report Card

Oregon received a mix of grades on an annual report card assessing the state's transition to clean energy. (Karen Murphy/Flickr)
Oregon received a mix of grades on an annual report card assessing the state's transition to clean energy. (Karen Murphy/Flickr)
February 1, 2017

SALEM, Ore. – A new report card on Oregon's transition to clean energy shows a mix of successes and failures.

The state received an A-minus for the ways it produces power, getting high marks for passing the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Act, which ensures the state will get 80 percent of its power from renewable energy by 2040.

However, it received a C-minus for transportation. The report by the Renew Oregon Coalition notes a lack of electric vehicles, for instance, which it says are now cost-efficient options for mass transit.

The state's transition away from fossil fuels is good news for the clean-energy job market though, according to Brad Reed, communications director for Renew Oregon.

"Job growth is at about 11 percent, which is higher than the state average," he said. "And we're talking about all kinds of workers. Construction workers, engineers, designers, manufacturing workers, salespeople, secretaries, custodians. These folks are all part of the clean-energy economy."

Oregon received a B-minus for its buildings, and the report says the state slipped from fourth to seventh in state rankings of energy-efficiency policies for its infrastructure. Its worst marks were for climate equity. Oregon received a D. The report notes that states across the country struggle to achieve environmental justice for disadvantaged communities.

The Oregon legislative session kicks off Wednesday and clean-energy advocates are looking to legislators.

The report suggests putting a "price on pollution" could be a way to curb greenhouse-gas emissions. Reed says there are multiple ways the state could do this, and his organization is waiting to see what lawmakers propose.

"What's important is that we take the collected proceeds and reinvest them into communities so that not only improves health by reducing pollution but also to grow local jobs that can't be outsourced," he explained.

Pricing pollution has proved to be controversial. In the 2016 election, voters to the north in Washington rejected a proposal for what would have been the nation's first carbon tax. Environmental groups opposed the tax because they were concerned the revenue earned from it would not be invested in clean-energy solutions and communities affected by climate change.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR