Our Legacy

Oregon Environmental Council has been first in many ways. As the first multi-issue, statewide environmental group in Oregon, established in 1968, OEC was the first to publish state legislators’ environmental voting records, establishing the Oregon League of Environmental Voters, which eventually became the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. In fact, look at any “green” idea that put Oregon on the map—the Bottle Bill, our landmark land-use planning laws, curbside recycling—and you’ll find that OEC was integrally involved, if not the driving force, behind these critical protections.

These extraordinary accomplishments were achieved by a group of ordinary citizens—garden club members, outdoor enthusiasts, conservationists and regular Oregonians who believed they could protect the legacy of a clean and healthy Oregon by working together. They knew that the only way to prevent loss of wilderness, pollution and the threats of unchecked development was to provide the citizens of Oregon with a no-nonsense voice in the state legislature. And this tradition continues: OEC is the place where all Oregonians can collaborate and take action to protect and enhance the place we love.

49 Years of Accomplishment and Still Going

1968  Oregon Environmental Council founded. Our first volunteer president begins lobbying for the environment on behalf of concerned citizens across our great state.

1968  Protected 100,000 acres of forest with Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Bill.

1969  OEC hires the first full-time environmental staff person in Oregon to provide leadership on environmental issues and a consistent voice in the Oregon Legislature.

1969  First conference on statewide Oregon environmental concerns sponsored by OEC.

1969   Strengthened the Beach Bill, securing greater public access.

1971  Oregon’s landmark nickel-deposit Bottle Bill is adopted with strong citizen support led by OEC, reducing litter across the state.

1971  OEC works with the informal “Bike Lobby” to pass the Bike Bill, the first designated state funding for bicycles in the country.

1971  OEC is sole environmental group advocating bill to establish a role for the state in energy facility siting; creation of the Nuclear and Thermal Energy Council puts the state in the driver’s seat with regard to nuclear facility siting.

1972  Created Oregon’s first recycling hotline.

1973  Helped pass Oregon’s unparalleled statewide land use planning laws (SB 100), protecting Oregon’s farms and forests.

1974  Successfully opposed plans for a nuclear waste dump near Arlington.

1975 OEC sues to temporarily halt logging in the Bull Run watershed, source of Portland’s drinking water.

1975  Secured National Recreation Area protection for Hells Canyon.

1976 Protected South Santiam River from proposed Cascadia Dam.

1977  Secured nation’s first ban on certain ozone-depleting chemicals.

1978  Defeated proposed Days Creek Dam on the South Umpqua River.

1978  Helped gain wilderness status for French Pete Creek Valley.

1979  Plans for an aerial tramway in the scenic Columbia River Gorge are dropped after OEC opposition.

1980  Crater Lake Wilderness Area bill is adopted with OEC’s support, adding 22,890 acres to Oregon’s national park.

1981  Led passage of Oregon’s Safe Drinking Water Act.

1981 Led successful effort to find non-toxic controls for gypsy moths.

1983  Passed Opportunity to Recycle Act, guaranteeing curbside recycling.

1983  Passed first legislation nationally to set pollution standards for wood stoves.

1985 Helped secure worker and community “right to know” laws that protect citizens from exposure to certain industrial chemicals.

1987  Secured legislation creating Oregon Superfund Program.

1987  Established Governor’s Watershed Enhance­ment Board (now known as Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board), supporting the formation of Oregon’s first citizen-based watershed councils.

1989  Led passage of Oregon Groundwater Protection Act, protecting a major source of drinking water for Oregonians.

1990  Nation’s first local ordinances regulating wood stove burning are adopted at OEC’s urging.

1991  Helped secure strictest law in the nation regulating cyanide heap-leach mining.

1991  Secured the nation’s first law requiring state agencies to minimize pesticide use.

1996  Led efforts to shut down Oregon’s last hospital incinerator in Northwest Portland.

1998  Helped launch nation’s first for-profit car sharing firm.

1999  Passed Pesticide Right to Know Law (the third such law in the nation) establishing public access to data about commercial pesticide use in Oregon.

2001 Passed Mercury Reduction Act, including a first-in-the-nation phase out of mercury-containing thermostats, as well as phase out of mercury-containing thermometers, auto switches and novelty products.

2002 Created “50 Ways to Love Your River” booklet, distributing over 20,000 copies and securing over 1 million media mentions after publication; created an online version in later years.

2001-2004  Mercury reduction projects swapped out over 3,000 mercury switches in cars, increased fluorescent tube recycling in targeted areas, and reduced mercury pollution from industrial boilers.

2003 Secured Environmental Quality Commission adoption of new rules to reduce air toxics (e.g., benzene, formaldehyde); rules are a national model, going beyond federal requirements.

2003 Passed first-of-its-kind tax incentive for insurance companies to offer Pay-as-You-Drive (per-mile) auto insurance.

2005  Passed legislation banning two toxic flame retardants.

2006 Won Environmental Protection Agency’s national Children’s Environmental Health Excellence Award for our Eco-Healthy Child Care and Tiny Footprints pro­grams that help parents and caregivers reduce children’s exposure to toxic chemicals.

2006 Secured adoption of clean car standards to reduce tailpipe emissions, cutting climate pollution from new cars and light duty trucks by an average of 30% and cutting carcinogenic air pollution by up to 25%.

2007 Phased out the Pollution Control Tax Credit, which provided taxpayer money to companies simply for their compliance with environmental laws.

2007 Passed Climate Change Integration Act setting aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals and establishing a statewide Global Warming Commission.

2007 Passed Renewable Fuels Standard to promote the development of local, sus­tainable biofuels.

2007 Supported creation of the Oregon Environmental Justice Task Force, which advises state agencies on how to protect all communities from pollution, enact laws equitably, and involve traditionally under-represented communities in agency actions.

  • Helped secure Environmental Protection Agency regulations for the Northwest that have reduced benzene in gasoline by approximately 70%.

2007 Helped pass Measure 49, a partial fix to Measure 39’s rollback of statewide land use planning.

2007-2009 20% of Oregon’s wineries reduced their carbon footprint through our Carbon Neutral Challenge.

2009 Expanded first-in-the-nation Eco-Healthy Child Care program nationwide.

2009 Secured legislative authorization for the Oregon Clean Fuels Standard, requiring oil companies to do their fair share to combat climate change and providing Oregonians with cleaner fuel choices. Ensured adoption by Oregon Environmental Quality Commission in 2012.

2009 Passed legislation requiring least-toxic pest management strategies in K-12 schools and community colleges.

2009 Passed legislation requiring accelerated replacement and retrofit of diesel school buses.

2009 Helped pass the strongest ban in the nation on the toxic flame retardant Deca-BDE, adding to our victory in 2005 banning two other toxic flame retardants.

2009 + 2010 Helped pass legislation directing the Portland region (and encouraging Oregon’s other major urban areas) to use climate-friendly transportation and land use planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

2009-2012 One-fifth of Oregon’s nursery industry reduced its carbon footprint by 20% through our Climate Friendly Nurseries project.

2009-2016  Reduced polluted stormwater runoff in cities around the state through low-impact development workshops, a rain garden guide, and a stormwater manual for western Oregon cities.

2010  Successfully advocated that the Oregon Branch of the Natural Resources Conservation Service become the first in the country to include greenhouse gas reduction and carbon sequestration in its agricultural programs.

2011  Helped pass “Cool Schools” legislation spurring energy efficiency improvements and healthier classrooms throughout the state.

2011  Passed a Multnomah County ordinance that bans the use of the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles, sippy cups, sports water bottles and insulated water bottles.

2011  Helped broker the closure of the Boardman coal-fired power plant—the state’s single largest emitter of greenhouse gases­—twenty years ahead of schedule.

2012  Secured a Green Chemistry Executive Order requiring Oregon to purchase less toxic products and eliminate toxic pollution. Secured similar policies in City of Portland, Multnomah County and regionally along the West Coast.

2012  Due to the advocacy of OEC and our counterparts across the west, the governors of Oregon, California, Washington and the premiere of British Columbia issued a joint West Coast clean energy economy action plan and commitment to price carbon and jointly tackle climate change.

2013  Established the statewide Pesticide Stewardship Partnership, which works directly with farmers and other pesticide users to reduce pesticide runoff into Oregon’s rivers and streams.

2013 Persuaded Oregon Board of Agriculture to improve the Agricultural Water Quality Program, making it more proactive and strategic, rather than complaint-based.

2013 Protected fish by helping incentivize irrigators and water users to return water to streams and rivers during the hottest parts of the year when fish need it most.

2014  First non-profit in Oregon to move our endowment funds into a 100% impact investment portfolio that divests from companies at odds with our mission and invests in corporations that excel at environmental and social responsibility.

2015  Launched Renew Oregon, the most powerful coalition ever assembled in Oregon to fight for climate protection.

2015 Passed the Toxic Free Kids Act, protecting children from toxics by requiring manufacturers of children’s products to disclose their use of toxic chemicals and to replace the chemicals most likely to harm infants and children with safer alternatives.

2015  Led successful effort to protect Oregon’s Clean Fuels Standard, providing clean fuel choices, better air quality and climate protection.

2015  More than 500 Oregon businesses—including Nike, Portland Trailblazers and Widmer Brothers—signed the Oregon Business Climate Declaration, launched by OEC.

2015  Joined with business partners to successfully pass energy disclosure benchmarking for commercial buildings in the City of Portland, giving a fuller picture of energy usage in buildings and incentives to increase efficiency.

2015  Harnessed $1.5 billion of market demand for less toxic products to date through our Healthy Purchasing Initiative, comprised of counties, cities and large institutions that have committed to buy safer products.

2016  Co-led the charge to make Oregon the first state ever to pass a law to go coal-free. Oregon will transition off of coal-fired electric power and replace it with clean, renewable energy, putting Oregon on the path to having one of the cleanest energy mixes in the world.