Two bills climate action bills advanced in the Oregon legislature this past week, passing their respective policy committees in the state Senate and House.
While dismal news just keeps pouring out of the nation’s capital on climate change, states are increasingly showing momentum to lead the way. Trump and Pruitt are on a collision course with science and dead set on putting America last in clean energy innovation, giving away public lands and waters to fossil fuel companies and doing the bidding of their dirty energy campaign donors. But states like Oregon can rise to the occasion to keep clean energy momentum alive.
The two bills have some differences that will need to be ironed out, but both would limit carbon pollution from the state’s biggest polluters and seek to allow Oregon to join a western carbon market that has been up and running since 2012 in California and has more recently successfully added two Canadian provinces: Quebec and Ontario.
State and local leadership on climate has seen a resurgence in the past year, with the growing list of cities and states committed to the Paris Climate Accord, deepening carbon cuts in the Northeastern Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and more states, like Virginia and New Jersey, putting in place programs to cut carbon. States initiated and maintained momentum on climate leadership during the Bush Administration, when the federal government did little to address the issue, and are having to take up the mantle again as Trump and Pruitt seek to undermine the progress made during the Obama administration.
Of course, states are not immune to anti-climate political donors and recalcitrant polluters hoping to prevent solutions to climate change. In Oregon the major business, transportation and gasoline/diesel interests have dug in to hold up movement of the bill. The state’s largest electric utility, Portland General Electric, has been late to engage, though they are still at least talking with proponents; while Pacificorp is opposing outright- with a barrage of changing rationalizations for opposition.
If action gets kicked down the road to next year’s legislature, the blame will go to the irresponsible and unconstructive polluter resistance.
The votes this past week marks continued momentum for sorely needed leadership. If the bills pass, it will be because elected leaders in the state rise above the clamor of polluter lobbyists and provide the leadership on climate action that the public demands.