End of session wrap-up: some big wins and more work to do

In Legislative Session by OLCVstaff

The Oregon Legislature has adjourned its 81st session! Overall, we had a pretty incredible session with some big wins for the environment. Thanks to your support and advocacy, we were successful in passing a historic budget for natural resources agencies. Not only did agencies see increased staffing but also money for information technology and other projects to protect Oregon’s environment. Addressing climate change, wildfire recovery and response and approving the largest ever water package that will help Oregonians across the state are among environmental victories. This session saw the passage of bills that lay the foundation for Oregon’s just transition to a clean energy future.

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Here’s the full scoop:

WINS: 

The Oregon Just Transition Alliance and Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity campaign led the charge to get a suite of transformative Clean Energy Opportunity Bills over the finish line:

  • HB 2021 – 100% Clean Energy For All sets clear targets for cleaning up Oregon’s electricity grid, transitioning our state to 100% emissions-free electricity by 2040. This is one of the strongest 100% clean electricity commitments in the nation because it ensures Tribal consultation, prioritizes benefits for rural, coastal, low-income, and BIPOC communities, and requires strong labor standards.
  • HB 2475 – the Oregon Energy Affordability Act will provide much-needed relief to low-income and other underserved customers, decreasing their utility costs through the establishment of a Low-Income Utility Rate Class.
  • HB 2842 – the Oregon Healthy Homes Act will make home upgrades more accessible to low-income homeowners and renters alike. By expanding access to retrofits that make homes warmer, healthier, and more energy efficient, Oregonians will experience fewer sick days, lower energy bills, and less exposure to harmful pollutants like diesel exhaust and wildfire smoke.

SB 762 – the Wildfire Safety Act is a smart, comprehensive policy that will protect lives and property from wildfire, and help us rebuild when wildfires occur.

Although we did have to stomach some difficult compromises to get these bills over the finish line, the final legislation resulted in some incredibly powerful wins for Oregon, particularly for the environmental justice communities that led the charge.

SB 582 – the Recycling Modernization Act addresses many of the problems that currently plague our aging recycling system. It also addresses the plastic crisis by increasing transparency and making producers formally responsible for what happens to their packaging. This will be the first time companies selling products in Oregon will be incentivized to reduce the overall environmental burden of their packaging.

MORE WORK TO DO:

Despite the major successes of the session, one Major Threat Bill did pass. This often happens at the end of session as lawmakers start making deals to get their priorities over the finish line. Unfortunately, it’s often Oregon’s land use laws that legislators are first to compromise. The Major Threat Bill, SB 16, will waive important land use laws to allow for the development of scattered housing on farmland in Eastern Oregon. It sets a dangerous precedent for prioritizing development over farming, and failing to build houses where they are needed most — in cities near existing infrastructure and services. We will continue to work hard to stop SB 16 from taking effect and will keep fighting for Oregon’s strong land use laws.

We also made history by passing major forest policy out of the House with HB 2357, the OFRI Reform bill. Unfortunately, the Senate wasn’t able to ultimately get this bill across the finish line. Our fight to reign in the inappropriate use of public funds by this quasi public agency will continue, and we will need your support to help us get there. We’ll keep you posted as we continue the campaign to hold OFRI accountable.

Although the legislative session is over, we’ll continue fighting for stronger energy efficiency building codes, and stronger extended producer responsibility in our recycling system and plastic waste reduction bills to be passed in future sessions. We’ll keep working to hold OFRI accountable and protect Oregon’s landmark land use planning laws. And even with a big win on climate, we know we’re not done fighting to protect a stable climate future. But we can’t do it without you. Will you make a contribution today to help make sure this important work continues?

Together, we will continue to protect Oregon’s natural legacy, elect pro-environment candidates, and hold our elected officials accountable.