The OCAP coalition members have been working diligently to engage with the agencies on developing proposals to actualize the Governor’s Executive Order 20-04. The most active Table has been the Cap and Reduce Table contributing to the state DEQ technical workshops on a series of critical issues relating to the agency’s scoping on its cap and reduce proposal. The 6 technical workshops were held between between late August and mid-September. Information on these workshops can be found here which provides links to the sessions and comments submitted. As can be seen, each workshop covered a different topic: Program Scope, Program Stringency, Alternative Compliance Options, Distribution of Compliance Instruments, Coat Containment, and Impacted Communities. It is evidence from this, as it is from reading the DEQ Issue Briefs associated with the sessions, that DEQ personnel are thinking in terms of a plan that is based on Compliance Instruments (termed Allowances in the legislative proposals of 2019 – HB2020 and 2020 – SB1530).
The Compliance Instrument Basis
Given the involvement of DEQ in those legislative efforts, it is not surprising that this would be the default approach they adopt. However, as can be seen in the comments AJ submitted in response to these sessions, this approach has a substantial weakness. The legislative proposals involved Allowance auctions, with funds raised being assigned to the Investment component of the Cape, Trade, and Invest bills. Under these circumstances, the price imposed on emissions can be targeted upstream (where fossil fuels, for example, enter the energy economy) and passed down to end users. That cost serves as an incentive to end-users to adjust their behavior to use renewable energy sources thus avoiding the emissions cost. Unfortunately, since the Cap and Reduce program cannot generate funds, the Compliance Instruments cannot be sold or auctioned to entities. Thus, there is no cost to be passed down, and end-users have no incentive to reduce their emissions. This, therefore, seems to require that end-users are targeted and annually awarded a reducing number of instruments. This would impose on them an incentive to avoid emissions by switching to renewable energy sources. The benefit to the upstream target is that it involves relatively few entities and is thus administratively easier to manage. In addition, the threshold for inclusion of entities within the program can be relatively large (conventionally 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions) assuming that the fossil fuel importers are charged for the emissions resulting from the end-use combustion of the fuel.
However, if the program targets end-users, the threshold for inclusion will necessarily be much lower, possibly in the region of 100s of tons of CO2e emissions. This will likely then result in both small businesses and individual households being included. This raises two problems: (1) these entities will then need a mechanism for calculating their emissions and demonstrating reductions over time, and (2) the administrative complexity will increase exponentially.
SOCAN Comments on Technical Workshops.
In response to Governor Kate Brown’s EO 20-04 establishing the Oregon Climate Action Plan (OCAP), the statewide coalition, led by Renew Oregon, Oregon Environmental Council, and Climate Solutions is coordinating the statewide climate activist response and engagement in agency actions and rule-making.
They have established 7 ‘tables’ (teams):
Cap & Reduce
Construction / Building Codes / appliance efficiency
Clean Energy and the Public Utilities Commission
Natural & Working Lands
Environmental Justice/ Impacted Communities
Each of these tables is facilitated by a content co-leader and a social justice co-leader. Within each, there seems to be a ‘policy group’ and a ‘grassroots group.’ The former is the smaller team that focuses on interactions with the relevant agencies while the latter serves to communicate with statewide organizations interested in this process.
So far, the Cap and Reduce table has begun engaging with the Department of Environmental Quality on this issue. DEQ is holding a series of 9 four-and-a-half-hour public ZOOM hearings each addressing one aspect of the issue. These are preceded by coalition discussions of issues to raise.
Withing the Natural and Working Lands arena, there is a policy team us scheduled to hold its first meeting on Monday August 24th, with a grassroots meeting on August 25th. Interestingly, a parallel ensemble of organization representatives operating under the banner” Pacific Northwest Forest Climate Alliance’ has been discussing forestry and climate issues and is seeking involvement in / engagement with the coalition process.
Meanwhile, similar activities are occurring with the other tables.
Under the leadership of Renew Oregon and a Steering Committee of climate activists, engagement with the agencies in the rule-making as charged to agencies by Governor Brown’s Executive Order 20-04 is occurring. As discussed last month, the response is organized in a series of ‘Tables’ (teams) as listed below.
Cap & Reduce
Construction, Buildings & Appliance Efficiency
Clean Energy & the Public Utilities Commission (PUC)
Natural and Working Lands
Environmental Justice and Impacted Communities.
Each Table (team) except the Environmental Justice Table has two co-leaders, one from the climate activist arena and one from the social justice arena. This is designed to en sure that social justice is retained as a top priority in the recommendations of all policy groups. SOCAN representatives are engaged in ‘Cape & Reduce;’ ‘Transportation;’ ‘Construction, Buildings, Appliance Efficiency;’ ‘Clean Energy / PUC;’ ‘Natural and Working Lands;’ ‘ Public Health;’ ‘Environmental Justice and Impacted Communities.’ Most of these table teams have started interacting with one another and the relevant agencies, but it’s not too late to join the action if you are interested – email Alan.
Most agencies charged by the Governor’s March 10 2020 Executive Order 20-04 with submitting a report by May 15th on the progress they have made, what they plan to do, and how public and stakeholder input will be sought, indeed have submitted reports. These reports are extremely variable, some display clear recognition of the issue and an enthusiastic willingness to take steps to meet the Governor’s goals. Others, meanwhile are very disappointing either in their claim that they are already doing everything required of them or arguing that they are not convinced they have statutory authority to do what the Governor charged them to do and suggesting they need Department of Justice advice. Reports
Renew Oregon, which had taken the statewide lead on promoting legislation is now taking the lead on facilitating response to these reports and engagement in the rule-making that will occur over the next year or so. They are establishing a series of what they call ‘Tables’ but we can think of as ‘Teams’ to collaborate in seven areas:
The plan is to have each team led by two individuals, one with expertise in the specific issue, and another representing the social justice arena. It is felt that this will ensure the social justice element is not overlooked in any team. SOCAN activist are interested in several areas, notably Natural and Working Lands, but also Cap & Reduce, Public Health, and Food Waste. However, it is evident from the list that food waste is not on any Table. Maybe our local Emerging Futures folks would be interested in taking a lead in that area.
Most recently, SOCAN has collaborated with Hogan Sherrow from ROCPAC and Joseph Vaile from KS Wild in developing a response to the rather disappointing Oregon Department to Forestry report. Along with the same two local activists, we (Alan Journet) recently attended a ZOOM meeting of the Pacific Northwest Forest Climate Alliance which seems to be taking the lead in addressing forestry issues.
Individuals interested in engaging in any of the areas depicted either by the agency reports or the Tables listed above, contact Alan who will link you into the teams. To counter the constant campaign that climate action is just a Portland or Urban Oregon effort to impose their will on the rest of the state, and demonstrate rural Oregonians are as concerned as urban Oregonians, it is critical that we are involved in this process.
06/7/2020 – Updates
Directing State Agencies to Take Actions to Reduce and Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The Governor’s Executive Order (EO 20-04) was signed on March 10.
Executive Order 20-04 | SOCAN Summary |. The SOCAN May monthly meeting was devoted to a discussion of the Executive Order. A video of that program is available on the SOCAN You-tube Channel page.
The Governor charged state agencies with a series of tasks and deadlines. The primary charge was to submit a report by May 15th outlining how the agency plans to move forward to address its charge in the EO (reports submitted as of Jun 5). DEQ was charged with presenting a preliminary report by May 15th identifying how it plans to engage public input. Public comment on this is due June 15th; final report due June 30th.
The final DEQ public webinar on the DEQ proposal to address the Cap & Reduce charge was Monday June 9 from 5:00 – 6:30pm. This is worth attending if you have any interest in understanding what DEQ is doing.
SOCAN has expressed interest in working in (1) The DEQ Cap & Reduce arena ensuring that the plan targets greenhouse gas emissions not just carbon, (2) Reducing Food Waste (Catie Faryl), (3) Natural and Working lands encouraging appropriate efforts in the arena of reducing emissions and promoting carbon capture and sequestration through forestry and agriculture (Alan, Gary Clarida, Ray Seidler), (4) Health (Ken Deveney.)
We envision collaborating on the Natural and Working lands issues locally with KS Wild, Our Family Farms (OFF), Rural Oregon Climate Political Action Committee (ROCPAC), and particularly with other statewide rural organizations such as Eugene-based Oregon Climate & Agriculture Network (OrCAN), Portland-based Cultivate Oregon, and possibly with Oregon Wild, the Center for Sustainable Economy, 350 Deschutes and others with forestry interests.
If you are interested in joining these efforts see 5/26/2020 updates (below). Contact Alan Journet for additional information.
5/26/2020 – SOCAN Monthly Meeting: Where are we and where do we go from here?
04/29/2020 – Current Actions:
Renew Oregon, which led the statewide effort to gain passage of a legislative proposal, is adjusting its focus now to serve as a conduit for ensuring that the Oregon Climate Action Plan comprises rules that genuinely will serve the state’s need to reduce emissions. This includes advising the agencies as they develop rules to assure that meaningful emissions reductions are achieved. Anyone interested in guiding the rule-making should contact Alan Journet who will connect folks with Renew Oregon. SOCAN is particularly interested in engaging to:
- Ensure that the program targets greenhouse gases, not just carbon (see The Carbon Mistake).
- Promote efforts in our natural and working lands to stimulate their capacity to capture and store carbon.
04/27/2020 – Sign The Pledge of Support:
Oregon residents wishing to support the Governor, endorse the actions in the Executive Order, and commit to assisting their achievement should visit the Renew Oregon website and sign the pledge.
03/10/2020 – OCAP: The Plan
For many years the Statewide coalition of climate organizations, led by Renew Oregon, has been working with legislators to develop and pass a bill that establishes a meaningful trajectory for the reduction of statewide greenhouse gas emissions. Most recently, in 2019, the Clean Energy Jobs Bill was HB 2020. In 2020, the bill was SB1530. In both these sessions, passage of the respective bill was thwarted by Republicans walking out. In both sessions, they walked out of the Senate Chamber, but in 2020, they also walked out of the House Chamber. In the 2020 short session, only three bills received a vote while some 40 bills, some bi-partisan, that had been worked on in committee for several weeks were left in incomplete and unaddressed limbo. A discussion of the twenty or so bills that were ready to go and that these Republican shenanigans killed during the 2020 session can be found in The Oregonian.
Since the Governor had made a commitment to establish a climate action plan in 2020, the Republican effort to undermine democracy left her with one option – to sign into law an Executive Order that established as effective a statewide plan as she has the authority to establish.
On March 10, 2020, Governor Brown signed Executive Order 20-04.
Prior to the Governor’s signing of this order, Oregon Greenhouse Gas emissions reduction efforts were established by HB3543 in 2007. This identified the state goals as 75% below 1990 emissions level by 2050. As discussed below, EO 20-04 immediately increased that goal to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
A 3-page summary of the Executive Order is available from the Oregon Environmental Council .
BRIEF SUMMARY OF KEY POINTS IN EO 20-04
Executive Order 20-04 will:
1 . Reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 45% below 1990 level by 2035 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
2. Cap and reduce emissions from stationary sources according to the trajectory identified above.
3. Cap and reduce emissions from transportation fuels according to the trajectory above.
4. Cape and reduce emissions from all other liquid and gaseous fuels, including natural gas, according to the trajectory above.
5. Increase the rigor of the Clean Fuel Standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of fuel energy combusted to 20% below 2015 levels by 2030 and 25% below 2015 levels by 2035
6. Promote electrification. Cape emissions from stationary sources (industrial and utility emitters) according to the overall trajectory indicated above.
7. Regulate methane emissions fro landfill operations
8. Reduce food waste
9. Promote Building Code provisions that increase the energy efficiency of new construction.
10. Require the Oregon Department of Energy to update energy efficiency requirements of an array of products sold in Oregon
11. Require the Department of Administrative Services to consider greenhouse gas emissions in procurement notably aiming for zero emissions vehicles.
12. Support Metropolitan Planning that reduced Greenhouse gas emissions
13. Support electrification
14. Direct the Oregon Health Authority to assess the public health impacts of climate change.
15. Direct the Oregon Global Warming Commission to submit a report on methods of promoting carbon sequestration in natural and working lands.
16. Require state agencies to prioritize actions that will help vulnerable populations and impacted communities adapt to climate change; and consult with the Environmental Justice Task Force when evaluating mitigation and adaptation priorities and actions
A slightly longer though still brief but excellent summary of EO 20-04, written by Renew Oregon’s Zach Baker, is available here.
Because the Governor lacks authority to establish a program that raises revenue, several features of SB1530 were necessarily missing. While the goals are statewide, tactics to reduce emissions are different for different areas of the economy. Rather than targeting stationary sources emitting over 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, the order targets all stationary source emitters. Since there is no auction of allowances, there can be no allocation of free allowances for Emissions Intensive, Trade Exposed (EITE) industries or for utilities to reduce the cost of electricity for low-income Oregonians. Finally, because there is no auction of allowances, there is no generation of investment funds to invest in rural and coastal Oregon and target support for the Tribes and vulnerable and impacted communities. Ironically, because they walked out, Republicans thwarted passage of a bill that addressed most, if not all, of the real concerns they raised.