OEC priorities for the 2013 Legislative Session include clean fuels, toxics disclosure, protecting water, defending natural resource agency funding and energy smart buildings.
Since 1969, OEC staff and volunteers have worked every legislative session in Salem to advocate for the interest of all Oregonians to have a clean, healthy environment, with history-making results.
OEC has identified a number of priorities for the 2013 Legislative Session, including the following:
OEC seeks to strengthen Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program (Senate Bill 488) so that it can attract as many as 29,000 jobs while reducing our state's $7.7 billion-a-year dependence on gas and diesel. The Program requires petroleum fuel suppliers to invest in cleaner, lower-carbon fuels—ranging from Oregon-made sustainable biofuels to electricity, natural gas and propane—to reduce carbon emissions by 10% within ten years. Clean Fuels can save households $1.6 billion in fuel costs while bringing cleaner air and climate leadership to Oregon. Unfortunately, this Program is mandated to expire in 2015, undermining the certainty investors desire to back new production and fueling infrastructure. We can remove this "sunset" to bring clean fuel industries and good jobs to Oregon while lowering fuel costs.
Chronic disease is on the rise. In order to protect our community’s most vulnerable—infants and children—our health officials need to know where and how kids are exposed to carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and other harmful chemicals. The Toxics Disclosure for Healthy Kids Act (House Bill 3162) is an important first step. The Act establishes a science-based list of the highest priority chemicals of concern to children’s health. It requires manufacturers to notify health officials when children’s products sold in Oregon contain these chemicals (like toys, jewelry and car seats). It authorizes the Oregon Health Authority to collect and track this data. And it works with manufacturers to develop plans for replacing harmful chemicals with safer alternatives.
Protecting Oregon’s Waters
Oregon needs a balanced approach to managing our valuable water resources. OEC supports establishing a water rights management fee so water rights holders can help fund staff and research to meet water supply needs while ensuring healthy levels in our rivers and streams. We also support removing the sunset on an existing program that allows water users to irrigate during part of the year and leave water in the rivers during other times when fish need it most. And we’ll continue to work with water users and other conservation groups to find common ground on proposals that benefit Oregon’s environment and economy.
Defending Oregon’s Natural Resources
Oregon’s natural resources are suffering because of continued budget cuts to those responsible for protecting our air, water and landscape. It’s time to reinvest in our environment by supporting agencies like the Department of Environmental Quality with increased funding and sufficient staffing. Natural resource agencies receive less than 1% of Oregon’s general fund, while contributions from the natural resource economy make up 37% of Oregon’s annual domestic product and employ one-third of the state’s workforce. To protect our environment for today and future generations, we must adequately fund our natural resource agencies.
Ensuring Sustainable Transportation (Senate Bill 247)
Many Oregonians are looking for alternatives to jumping in the car every time they need to go somewhere. For our health and for our environment, we need affordable, convenient, reliable, safe and clean “active transportation” options—including transit, sidewalks, bike facilities, and passenger rail. Funding sources for these active transportation options are very limited and haven’t kept pace with growing needs. OEC is working with active transportation allies to see if this session’s “ConnectOregon” proposal, which utilizes general fund and lottery dollars, can be expanded to include more funding for active transportation.
Energy Smart Buildings
A good foundation, location and maintenance are crucial aspects of assessing the value of a building, while energy usage all too often remains an overlooked and cryptic cost factor. OEC is promoting a bill that would make it easier for potential buyers to weigh the energy performance of buildings—which impacts utility costs as well as comfort—when shopping for a new home. A “building energy score” would support the flourishing green building industry, make efficient buildings a clear choice for buyers and businesses, and create additional jobs throughout the state.