2017 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

In Legislative Session by OLCVstaff

The 2017 legislative session ended in Salem on July 7th. OLCV and our members had some big wins – including finally saving the Elliott State Forest after years of uncertainty.

We had a number of other victories; we passed legislation protecting Oregon’s rivers and fish from dangerous suction dredge mining, and we passed an environmentally-friendly transportation package, all while protecting our successful Clean Fuels Program from constant threats.

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These are big wins for the environment, but they don’t tell the whole story. This session was tough. We faced a number of major threats and spent too much time defending against rollbacks to protections already in place.

Opposition in the legislature this session kept us from taking the next steps on climate and resisting Trump in Oregon. In 2018, we need to start making polluters pay. By passing The Clean Energy Jobs Bill, we will put a price on pollution and invest in our communities.

“In 2018, we need to start making polluters pay.”

Here’s a quick update on each of our priorities. Our successes are because of your engagement. Thank you for writing your legislator, attending lobby day, and being awesome rockstars for the environment.

Clean Energy Jobs

Right at the close of session, there was a comprehensive bill introduced to cap and price pollution and to invest into new clean energy jobs. This is a great step forward, and we need your help to make sure it passes next session. Help us thank those legislators who supported this bill – and make sure climate change stays a priority for them in the 2018 session.

Retiring Dirty Diesel

While we were pleased to pass legislation upgrading to clean fuel-burning school buses, we have yet to allocate two thirds of the Volkswagen settlement money. Next session, we will need to push back against dirty diesel interests who demand the money without a deadline for when dirty diesel engines must be phased out.

Governor Kate Brown signs the bill protecting our sensitive rivers from Suction Dredge mining

Protecting Oregon’s Rivers

After many years, we are so proud to have passed legislation protecting Oregon’s most special rivers and threatened fish populations from suction dredge mining. It was great to be at the signing ceremony with the governor and all the people who worked on this bill.

Saving the Elliott

Of course, perhaps our largest accomplishment this session was saving the Elliott State Forest. Not only did the land board flip from a 2-1 vote to sell to a 0-3 vote to save, we also successfully passed the $100 million in required legislative bonding. Our accountability campaign – meaning your voices, calls, letters, and social media shares – are directly responsible for this effort. We should all feel very proud.

After years of work, we’ve won a major victory in protecting the Elliott State Forest

Transportation for Oregon’s Future

Essential for us in the transportation package was preserving the clean fuels program, which was under attack from Big Oil. And we succeeded! We were also pleased to see congestion relief, statewide public transit investments, dedicated bicycle and pedestrian commuter paths, Safe Routes to Schools, and electric vehicle rebates.

Supporting Oregon’s Natural Resource Agencies

We managed to prevent devastating cuts to Oregon’s natural resource programs that would have gutted protections for waterways and forest lands, and we took another step towards clean energy infrastructure by preventing the Governor’s Energy Policy Advisor position from being dissolved. However, Cleaner Air Oregon, which would have instituted air quality monitoring, was not funded this year. Here in Portland, we have some of the worst air quality in the country, and so Cleaner Air Oregon remains a major priority, until we can ensure all Oregonians have clean air to breathe.

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We definitely had some successes this session, but we still need to work on:

Look for our scorecard!

You can track how your legislator did this session and together we can ensure our politicians move forward on the environment in the future.