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OR Climate Action Groups Push Multi-Pronged Approach in 2021 Session

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Climate action groups hope Oregon lawmakers will do more work to electrify transportation this session. (vivalapenler/Adobe Stock)
Climate action groups hope Oregon lawmakers will do more work to electrify transportation this session. (vivalapenler/Adobe Stock)
November 19, 2020

SALEM, Ore. -- Climate-action groups are outlining their priorities for the 2021 legislative session in Oregon.

In the previous two sessions, Republicans have walked out over a carbon-pricing bill they say would disproportionately hurt rural Oregonians.

Next year, groups will look to other areas in the fight against climate change.

Oriana Magnera, climate and energy policy coordinator for the organization Verde said one of its top priorities is a statewide energy standard.

"We're not just looking at 100% clean energy and building a path to a clean-energy future," Magnera explained. "But also building in some of these other elements that address justice in our energy system and address that idea of energy democracy; that energy is a commons, that it's a human right, and that it should balance benefits and burdens."

Magnera said a coalition of groups that focus on environmental justice are running the effort. They're also pushing for energy-rate relief and making homes healthy, safe and energy efficient.

Meredith Connolly, Oregon director for Climate Solutions, said electrifying the state's dirtiest sector, transportation, is another goal for this session. She noted Daimler is making electric Freightliner trucks in Portland.

"Those trucks right now are headed to California because they have favorable policies that require and incentivize those trucks to be on those roads," Connolly observed. "We would like to see those electric options displacing diesel options on our roads here."

Democrats still hold supermajorities in the Legislature but don't have a veto-proof majority to prevent Republicans from walking out again.

Doug Moore, executive director for the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, believes Republicans have an incentive to stick around, though.

If the Legislature doesn't draw voting-district lines, the task will be handed off to Democratic Secretary of State Shemia Fagan.

"The Republicans are very afraid of what Shemia might do in redistricting," Moore contended. "So I think that will have sort of a pulling impact of trying to keep them in the Legislature itself."

Lawmakers convene in Salem Jan. 19.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR