Less Wildfires, Greater Drought, and Significant Renewable Energy Expenditures Came to Oregon in 2022

Renewable Energy: The year 2022 was a watershed moment in the fight against climate change in Oregon and the United States. Tax credits, rebates, and grants for renewable energy projects at the corporate and household levels accounted for the bulk of the $385 billion allocated by Congress in the Inflation Reduction Act, which was passed in August with the express purpose of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Less Wildfires, Greater Drought, and Significant Renewable Energy Expenditures Came to Oregon in 2022

There were record penalties and atonement for environmental damages in 2022, as well as new regulations to conserve forests, new investments in electrifying transportation, and increased development of renewable energy.

Oregon’s government has been actively seeking billions of dollars in federal money to expand its network of charging stations for electric vehicles, transform the state into a green hydrogen center, and conduct research on the feasibility of using offshore wind power. The state government established new initiatives to push residents, motorists, and automakers toward electric power and away from fossil fuels.

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Oregon is on target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 45% below 1990 levels by 2035, according to a report by the state’s Global Warming Commission.

The number of severe weather occurrences in 2022 was also lower than in prior years. Heavy rains persisted throughout June of 2022, which helped make that fire season one of the mildest in the recent decade. Nonetheless, they were insufficient to save certain areas of the state from a 22-year drought. This summer, Governor Kate Brown signed six executive orders to increase drought help in 17 counties across the state.

Protection of Forests

There are new restrictions on logging and new incursions of exotic species in Oregon’s public and private forests.

Legislators in Oregon decided in February to make the state’s first forest a research forest instead than log it to pay for public schools.

Some of the last and largest stands of old-growth trees in the Oregon Coast Range may be found in the 91,000-acre Elliott State Research Forest close to Coos Bay, providing essential habitat for endangered animals like the marbled murrelet and the northern spotted owl. The area has been logged since the early 1900s to support a state school fund, but now a new state agency and Oregon State University are looking at the best ways to conserve the area’s natural resources and manage the surrounding ecology.

Less Wildfires, Greater Drought, and Significant Renewable Energy Expenditures Came to Oregon in 2022
Less Wildfires, Greater Drought, and Significant Renewable Energy Expenditures Came to Oregon in 2022

New conservation criteria for the logging of millions of acres of private forests in the state were established by the Legislature in March as part of the Private Forest Accord. Conservationists are pleased because the restrictions would prevent loggers from being sued under the Endangered Animals Act and will assist to safeguard endangered species and their ecosystems. After a year of talks between conservation organizations and wood sector representatives, the measure was passed, marking the first time since the 1990s that the state’s legislation regarding private timber harvests had been modernized.

The state’s first confirmed detection of the emerald ash borer was in a parking lot in Forest Grove, approximately 25 miles west of Portland, in July. This insect is responsible for the greatest number of tree deaths in North America. The Oregon Invasive Species Council has devised a strategy to deal with the beetles, which have killed hundreds of millions of ash trees throughout 36 states and might lead to local extinctions if not prevented.

Transportation in electric vehicles

At year’s end of 2021, Oregon passed new legislation mandating cleaner transportation and cleaner fuels to tackle climate change. The state has set a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from transportation, which account for 40% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, and is also encouraging the use of electric medium and heavy-duty vehicles.

The state last year quadrupled the discount available to low-income buyers of old and new electric vehicles, and it started using federal funds to build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles every 50 miles along seven key roads. The governors of Washington and California, as well as the premier of British Columbia, inked an agreement with Brown in October to make their respective states the first on the continent to switch to 100% clean power and a low-carbon economy.

Commitments to reduce emissions from medium and heavy-duty vehicles and to construct a nationwide network of charging stations for electric cars are part of the agreement.

The Environmental Quality Commission of Oregon decided on December 19 to ban the sale of new, 100% gas-powered cars by the year 2035, dealing a major blow to gas-powered transportation. In 2020, the state of Oregon will mandate that all newly sold vehicles be either entirely electric or plug-in hybrids that can run on both energy and fuel.

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) projects that this will save lives by lowering hazardous air pollution by $13 million and boost the economy by $6 billion as a consequence of lower fuel usage and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Ecologically Sound Sources Of Power

The potential of renewable energy sources including solar, wind, and hydrogen saw significant growth in 2018. This project was given final permission and will be the largest solar plant in Oregon and one of the largest in the United States. It is Obsidian Renewables’ intention to have the facility up and running by the year 2024. This year, the U.S. Department of Energy published a report projecting Oregon’s potential as a significant producer of offshore wind power by 2030, and it has begun sponsoring research into this possibility.

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The state agencies of Oregon and Washington have collaborated to compete for billions of dollars in federal funding to build regional hydrogen hubs. To power big transportation boats and certain industries, the Pacific Northwest Regional Hydrogen Hub would focus on green hydrogen generation, created emissions-free from renewable electricity and water.

However, Obsidian Renewables has also proposed to the federal government a plan to build an emissions-free green hydrogen hub serving the Pacific Northwest between Oregon and Washington.

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