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OEC - Oregon Environmental Council

03/08/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/08/2018 20:18

2018 Legislative Wrap: Healthy Strides

2018 Legislative Wrap: Healthy Strides

Beyond strong and historic support for Clean Energy Jobs, our work during Oregon's 2018 Legislative Session resulted in healthy strides in improving our air and our communities.

We advocated to hold industry responsible for funding the Cleaner Air Oregon program. We stood strong for student transportation funding. We helped lawmakers strengthen rebates for electric vehicles for low-income families, and we advocated for a bill that creates diesel standards, which stalled in a committee.

Headlines focused on our state's work on a cap-and-invest program, and the historic support it attracted, but Oregon Environmental Council also was tracking and advocating for other bills.

Here's a brief summary to keep you - our members and supporters - up to date on the issues we worked on:

After pollution was discovered from a glass manufacturer in Portland two years ago, Gov. Kate Brown announced a program to regulate air toxics based on the risks they pose to health instead of by the volume of chemicals released. Led by Neighbors for Clean Air, Sen. Michael Dembrow (SE Portland) worked with Sen. Fred Girod (Stayton) and industrial interests on a deal that holds polluters responsible for their fair share of paying for the program. The bill will ensure the new Cleaner Air Oregon program is funded. Now, health and environmental advocates must keep working to make sure the new program delivers the public health protections that it promises. More about how this bill took shape.

Transportation Solutions

Students around the state currently face an inflexible system when it comes to transportation. Students in urban areas don't always have funding for transit and students in rural areas have difficulty getting to school functions without after-school activity buses. More about HB 4130 and how it takes an important step toward solving this problem.

Our work to ditch dirty diesel in Oregon continues. While Cleaner Air Oregon is set to focus on industrial air toxics, diesel pollution will not be addressed in that effort and so more work is needed. 23 counties in Oregon exceed the health benchmarks for diesel pollution - this is unacceptable and needs to change.

This session, Rep. Nosse introduced a bill, HB 4003, establishing full-diesel standards, but it stalled in committee. Sen. Dembrow's bill, SB 1509, would have put in place a voluntary agreement to create 'no-idle zones' in certain places if the place/community paid for signage. We worked with the Speaker's office to amend the second bill and make it stronger, but it too failed to advance. Expect to hear more from us on this important issue in 2019.

Electric vehicle (EV) rebates had some technical corrections in a transportation bill, HB 4059, which improved the program by making it simpler and easier for low-income people to take advantage of the program. In addition, HB 4022 passed to allow the state to provide electricity at EV charging stations for the public.

Since most of our greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, EVs are a great way to reduce emissions, especially after 2030 when Oregon's Coal to Clean law means no more coal power in Oregon!

What's next?

As we close out this 2018 short Legislative assembly, and ramp up for what's next, we are assured that standing strong for smart, health-based policies will always be the right thing to do.

Ask anyone who's worked with us these last 50 years, landmark policies don't happen overnight. It takes months, sometimes years to work together to find a solution fit for Oregon's future. Read more about our public policy work.

We look forward to your support. Be sure you're a part of our Grassroots Action & Information Network to get our action alerts in the coming months. Check your subscription settings - or sign up and stay in the loop.

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