In order to boost energy efficiency in building development and position the state to match billions in federal grants available for climate change initiatives, Oregon lawmakers merged multiple proposals, including those that the 42-day Senate Republican boycott had put in jeopardy.
The governor, Tina Kotek, has not yet signed the two pieces of legislation, one of which merges 14 previous bills.
According to Natalie Bennon, a spokeswoman for Sustainable Northwest, a Portland-based organization that focuses on forests, farms, clean energy, and water, “this year, the Oregon Legislature made some historic new investments — and continued some important existing ones — to help Oregon communities protect drinking water and respond to climate change.”
According to data from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, buildings are Oregon’s second greatest source of greenhouse-gas emissions, only behind transportation at 35%, despite the fact that motor vehicles, power plants, and fuels have received far more attention. Fuels utilized for power generation, heating, and cooling are included in the category of buildings.
The tweet below confirms the news:
The work started last year when a parliamentary task group adopted proposals to establish energy-efficiency criteria for state buildings and general commercial buildings, as well as incentives for performing the work.
The original legislation (SB 868–871) were heard by a Senate committee on March 13; no witnesses spoke against them. But when minority Republicans left the Senate from May 3 to June 15, they created a legislative impasse that trapped them and others.
With $45 million in state funding, the House combined them with other bills to create HB 3409.
Rep. Pam Marsh, a Democrat from Ashland, and Sen. Kate Lieber, a Democrat from Beaverton, served as the task force’s heads, and they both made statements after the legislation was passed by the legislature.
Lieber, the majority leader of the Senate during this session, said: “We need to upgrade our buildings to keep Oregonians safe because we are experiencing hotter summers, colder winters, and more hazardous, extreme weather all year long.
In addition to keeping Oregonians and their families safer and healthier inside their homes, more efficient, resilient buildings will lower utility costs and the pollution that is fueling the climate crisis.
Marsh, the chair of the House Committee on Climate, Energy, and the Environment: “It is critical that we transform our infrastructure to be more sustainable as climate-related catastrophes continue to threaten our way of life in communities all across Oregon. A more energy-efficient home can save your life during a heat wave.
Another clause in the broader bill allots $10 million to support the voluntary carbon-capture projects on farms and forests that were suggested in SB 530, which was discussed by a Senate committee on February 15 and then forwarded to the joint budget committee.
Sen. Jeff Golden, a Democrat from Ashland, who chairs the Senate Natural Resources Committee, claimed that Republicans and other opponents of the proposed climate change policies have endorsed the proposal.
“This is a practical, incentive-based approach to addressing the causes and impacts of climate change in every community in Oregon,” Golden remarked following the event. This package will make investments in regional economies and local solutions, from local green infrastructure to research into using wood waste as an alternative fuel source. I’m eager to witness the cleaner, greener future that Oregonians will create.
A second law (HB 3630) allocates $5 million in state funding to the Oregon Department of Energy to assist organizations and communities in obtaining federal funds, preparing for climate change, and lessening the disparate impact of the shift on different areas.
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In talks with reporters during the 2023 session, House Speaker Dan Rayfield, a Democrat from Corvallis and the primary proponent of both mega-bills, frequently mentioned a “climate budget”.
The $370 billion in grants and other incentives that Congress made available in the Inflation Reduction Act last year, according to Rayfield, should not be missed by Oregon, he said.
The “climate budget” includes $20 million to replenish a state fund for renewable energy and community resilience projects started by local participants, as well as $10 million to support and expand climate resilience hubs for emergency preparedness, which emerged from the 2020 Labor Day wildfires that swept through Oregon.
Khanh Pham was an advocate for the successful 2018 campaign to establish a comparable fund for small-scale renewable energy projects inside Portland before she was elected to an Oregon House seat from Southeast Portland in 2020.
Pham, a member of the House environment panel and the co-chair of the subcommittee overseeing the budget for natural resources in the House, claimed that the more comprehensive bill included the changes she advocated for in HB 2990.
“House Bill 2990 gives communities the tools they need to prepare and grow their networks far in advance of disaster instead of fighting to reconstruct from scratch every year, when Oregon sees more heat domes, wildfires, and other climate-related disasters, according to Pham.
Additionally, climate resilience hubs will guarantee that our communities have the facilities and assistance they require for the sometimes time-consuming and expensive process of catastrophe recovery.
Sen. Michael Dembrow, a Democrat from Portland, who serves as the Senate’s co-chair of the budget subcommittee, stated that the bills “will make the significant impact we need to reduce emissions while lowering daily costs for Oregonians and investing in our land and our people through incentives for everything from green technology to carbon sequestration in working lands.”
HB 3409 and HB 3630 were both passed primarily along partisan lines. The sole Republican senator who supported both legislation was Lynn Findley of Vale. Ed Diehl of Stayton, Cyrus Javadi of Tillamook, and Mark Owens of Crane, three Republicans in the House, voted in favor of HB 3630.
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