Image credit: Erica Alexia Ledesma @EricAlexia on Twitter and Instagram.
Oregon state lawmakers are preparing to adjourn their legislative session in a matter of days. Meanwhile, Oregonians across the state are still dealing with the impacts of the pandemic and 2020’s destructive wildfires while already experiencing record extremes in drought and heat.
Thanks to rural- and BIPOC-led environmental justice leaders at the Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity campaign, legislators have an opportunity to pass two important bills that will support communities throughout Oregon. At stake are one of the nation’s strongest 100% clean electricity commitments and a home repair fund to benefit the communities most in need. Together, these bills can serve as the energy component of Oregon’s recovery from today’s overlapping crises.
100% Clean Energy for All (House Bill 2021) is an environmental justice pathway to 100% emissions-free electricity by 2040 with interim targets of 90% clean energy by 2035 and 80% by 2030. The bill contains Tribal consultation requirements, prioritizes benefits for rural, coastal, low-income, and BIPOC communities, and sets into place strong labor standards to ensure that the economic development brought about by the clean energy transition will support Oregon workers with family-wage jobs and job training opportunities, comprehensive benefits, and workforce equity goals. The bill also bans new or expanded fossil fuel power plants (a first in the nation) and invests $50 million in community-based renewable energy project grants that include disaster-resilient systems like rooftop solar plus battery storage.
Healthy Homes (House Bill 2842) will invest $10 million in a new Healthy Homes Repair Fund at the Oregon Health Authority to support low-income Oregonians with energy efficiency retrofits. The bill will complement existing weatherization programs and support resiliency projects that can be hard to find funding for, like smoke filtration and home hardening to protect homes from wildfire. It would help take the strain off of our healthcare system caused by unhealthy indoor air quality and other impacts of poor housing quality.
Also, read about why army veteran George Beverly, Jr. in fire-impacted Blue River and high school sophomore Sierra Bell in coastal North Bend are taking action to support these important bills.