Climate change is a clear threat to the livelihoods – and lives – of Oregonians. Rising sea levels are responsible for coastal erosion and flooding, while increasing water temperatures in bays, estuaries, and rivers could have a negative impact on key fish species. Meanwhile, the Willamette Valley is on course for more intense heat waves, and changing rainfall patterns increase the likelihood of wildfires, drought, insect damage, and disease in the Cascades and Blue Mountains.
Now more than ever, it’s clear that a shift to clean energy and overall reduction in energy consumption is both an economic and public health imperative for the state of Oregon. And that’s exactly what Oregon is doing.
In the wake of the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, Oregon has joined an agreement of sub-national governments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 percent to 95 percent by 2050. And the state is taking crucial steps to make that bold goal a reality.
When it comes to energy efficiency, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy consistently ranks Oregon in the top ten states in the nation. The state is also making a big push to increase the number of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV), expand access to ZEV infrastructure, and broaden the market for alternative fuels.
But perhaps Oregon’s most exciting move yet came last year, when Governor Kate Brown signed the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan. The law sets the state on a path to become the first coal-free state in the nation. Specifically, it eliminates the allocation of electricity produced by out-of-state coal plants by 2030, and requires the state to generate 50 percent of its electricity with renewable energy by 2040. Hailed by environmental groups, the landmark law also has the support of the state’s largest electric companies.
Oregon’s investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy is already yielding dividends for its residents, to the tune of than $1.3 billion on utility bills. And there are additional savings to be had — not just from reducing energy costs, but also from reducing public health costs associated with hazardous particulates in the air. For Oregonians, clean energy means clean living, and a promise of a safe, secure future for generations to come.