SOCAN’s 2023 Legislative Priorities
Before the 2023 Oregon Legislative long session (January through June) is over, some 4,000 bills are expected to have been introduced (‘dropped’ in the legislative vernacular). We cannot follow them all! Indeed, some 1500 or so were filed before January 9th, when the session started and already more have appeared. SOCAN’s Federal and State Project team members are pouring over the bills introduced so far to determine which will be our legislative priorities. A couple have already risen to the top:
Bills SOCAN Supports
HB2601, the Treasury Investment and Climate Protection Act urges the the Treasurer and Oregon Investment Council to cease investing Treasury funds (which include tax moneys and the Public Employees’ Retirement System funds) in entities that extract, process or distribute fossil fuels. Indeed, SOCAN has already testified at a meeting of the Oregon Investment Council and anticipates doing so again in mid-February when the bill receives a Hearing before the General Government sub-committee of the Joint Ways and Means committee. SOCAN testimony on HB2601 and to the Oregon Investment Council.
SB530, the Natural Climate Solutions Bill promotes carbon sequestration in the state’s natural and working lands as a way to enhance the state’s effort to address the climate crisis. From the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it is clear that we must not only reduce emissions but also removes some of the greenhouse gases already emitted. Forestry that sequesters carbon and regenerative agriculture that promotes healthy soils are two ways to achieve this goal. SOCAN testimony on SB530.
As the years of its operation revealed that Oregon’s 2007 purely voluntary greenhouse gas emissions reduction program was failing to achieve its trajectory and interim goals, years of effort were spent developing a meaningful state greenhouse gas emissions reduction bill. In 2020, SB1530 was set to pass both chambers until Republicans staged a walk-out defeating the quorum in both chambers and thwarting passage of this and many other important bills. As a result of Republican refusal to engage in serious discussions about a climate program in Oregon, in March 2020 Governor Brown signed, Executive Order 20-04 This EO charged state agencies to develop programs within their authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the state with a goal of achieving reduction of 80% below 1990 emissions by 2050. That EO also encouraged carbon sequestration in our natural and working lands and charged agencies to develop programs that incorporated equity. In response the Oregon Global Warming Commission (OGWC) developed a report that identified carbon sequestration in our natural and working lands as a state goal. During the 2022 legislative short session, SB 1534 was introduced to further the proposed OGWC sequestration target. This bill sought, among other related goals, to establish carbon sequestration as a state goal and develop a baseline assessment of historic sequestration. The bill was recommended DO PASS by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery but was awaiting Joint Ways and Means consideration when the session ended. This bill represents a 2023 effort to revisit the goals of SB1534 and take the action a little further.
Establishes promoting natural climate solutions as an Oregon policy in efforts to mitigate future climate change. These are activities that enhance or protect the ability of natural and working lands to sequester and store carbon or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while maintaining or increasing climate resilience, human well-being and biodiversity. The bill also invests in research to improve understanding of the effects of natural climate solutions in the lands and the products from those lands as well as the contributions such solutions can make to reducing GHG emissions and increasing net carbon sequestration and strengthening climate resilience.
State agencies shall seek federal and private funding, incentivize and implement natural climate solutions, prioritize existing programs to administer funds, promote equity, ensure diversity among participants, identify resources to provide incentives, strengthen land manager education, engagement, and technical assistance, provide financial assistance to tribal, local governments, and NGOs
The bill seeks to optimize social, health, ecological, climate resilience and economic benefits of natural climate solutions, through reducing Heat Island Effects, improving air quality, flood control, soil health and productivity, wildfire resilience and community protection, drought resilience and response, wetland and riparian functionality for enhanced water quality and quantity, and increasing long-term fiber supplies, climate resilience of fish and wildlife, and protection for coastal communities from the impacts of storm surge. It directs state agencies to incorporate natural climate solutions into their missions, programmatic investments and performance metrics and use metrics designed to track progress in implementing natural climate solutions.
It establishes a Natural and Working Lands Fund in the State Treasury, separate and distinct from the General Fund. Funds are then disbursed to Agriculture, Forestry, Watershed and Fish and Wildlife Natural Climate Solutions Funds.
See also Guest Column in Rogue Valley Times: NATURAL CLIMATE SOLUTIONS BENEFIT RURAL OREGON
SB88 establishes state policy to increase net carbon sequestration and storage in natural and working lands.
A back-up bill introduced in case SB530 is not successful.
HB2998, the Healthy Soils Bill Creates the Oregon Soil Health Initiative to improve soil health in this state by collaborating on, and advancing, voluntary incentive-based soil health strategies such as sequestering carbon, building soil organic matter, improving water quality by reducing soil erosion, soil compaction while reducing agricultural production costs, promoting the beneficial activity of microbes, fungi, earthworms and other organisms and reducing the costs of agricultural inputs and protecting worker health. The program will be developed and administered by the Institute for Natural Resources at Oregon State University, The Oregon Department of Agriculture will support the initiative by collaborating with other agencies such as the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). OWEB will provide grants for continuing or expanding initiative practices. OSU Department of Agriculture shall assess and track soil health. $480,000 is appropriated to Oregon Department of Agriculture, $2,480,000 to OWEB for providing grants and $425,000 to the Institute for Natural Resources. SOCAN Testimony on HB2998.
SB 526 directs State Department of Agriculture to establish program to support farmers who employ agricultural practices that lead to resilient farms.
A back-up bill introduced in case HB-2998 is not supported.
HB2990 directs Oregon Health Authority to develop and implement grant program to support resilience hubs and networks in Oregon.
HB3056 extends residential Heat Pump Fund until January 2, 2026.
This is a simple bill that does just this. Because electric heat pumps are by far the most efficient and effective means for both warming and cooling homes, SOCAN supports the principle of incentivizing the installation of these devices. It would be preferable if the bill limited incentives to electric heat pumps.
SB 85-1 was HB2667, the Factory Farm Moratorium Bill, prohibits Department of Environmental Quality and State Department of Agriculture from issuing or renewing license or permit to allow construction or operation of new industrial confined animal feeding operation, addition to or expansion of existing industrial confined animal feeding operation or addition to or expansion of livestock farm that would cause livestock farm to become industrial confined animal feeding operation.
Confined Animal Feedlot Operations (CAFOs), often housing thousands of animals, are among the most environmentally destructive land use activities. Their main contribution to the climate crisis stems from anaerobic (oxygen free) digestion (basically fermentation) that occurs in the gut (particularly of cattle but also other animals). This anaerobic digestion results in the production of methane which the animals release. Methane is some 30 times worse as a global warming agent than carbon dioxide on a 100-year basis and over 80 times worse on a 20-year basis. In addition, the vast amount of manure produced by these operations in generally stored in lagoons where anaerobic decay occurs, again release methane. Although fossil (natural) gas companies cherish the lagoon methane as as source of so-called Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), very little of the methane from CAFOs is captured for this purpose, and this methane still leaks in transmission and emits carbon dioxide when ultimately combusted. In addition, the methane released by the animals themselves is not captured. An insidious result of gas companies promoting RNG is the likelihood that this will encourage CAFO expansion and proliferation. Finally, a frequent event occurring at CAFOs is the leakage of the decomposing manure (especially during heavy rainfall events) from the lagoons which pollutes nearby waterways killing aquatic organisms.
HB2700 modifies zero-emission and electric vehicle rebate programs to allow rebate for purchase or lease of electric farm tractor or repowering of farm tractor.
In order to encourage the electrification of all vehicles relying on the internal combustion engine that emit carbon dioxide when the gasoline or diesel is burned, agricultural equipment producers are finally developing electric vehicles. Incentivizing the purchase of electric tractors will encourage farmers and ranchers to consider these vehicles when replacing old equipment.
HB3113 appropriates moneys from General Fund to Department of Transportation, for biennium beginning July 1, 2023, for improving safety and increasing access to walking, biking and transit on state highways that serve as community main streets.
SB854 requires climate education K – 12. SOCAN Testimony submitted.
Resilient Buildings Package
SB868 Healthy heating and cooling for all bill. Still present as a ‘study’ placeholder
SB869 Building smart from the start. Still present as a ‘study’ placeholder
SB870 Building performance standard. Still present as a ‘study’ placeholder
SB871 Smart State Buildings. Still present as a ‘study’ placeholder
Second Tier Bills Added
SB522 Changes name of “Oregon Global Warming Commission” to “Oregon Climate Action Commission.” Modifies membership and duties of commission. Increases emissions reduction goal to 80% below 1990;level sand states this will be adjusted according to best available science.
SB543 bans the use of expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) containers in Oregon restaurants. SOCAN testimony on SB543
HB2816 Requires person who owns, operates or controls high energy use facility to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity used by high energy use facility are reduced to 60 percent below baseline emissions levels by 2027, 80 percent below baseline emissions levels by 2030, 90 percent below baseline emissions levels by 2035 and 100 percent below baseline emissions levels by 2040. Closes an HB2021 loophole that allows high energy data centers linked to exempt power generation facilities to evade the clean electricity rules. SOCAN Testimony submitted
HB3166 Requires State Department of Energy, in consultation with Housing and Community Services Department, to establish whole-home energy savings program and high-efficiency electric home rebate program. SOCAN Testimony submitted.
HB3196 Authorizes Environmental Quality Commission to establish by rule fee to be paid by community climate investment entities. This encodes into statute the Climate Protection Program Community Climate Investment Fund. SOCAN Testimony submitted.
HB3003 Provides tax breaks for electricity utilities burning biomass that is at least 50% juniper. SOCAN testimony urging amendment submitted
Bills SOCAN Opposes
SB247 undoes provisions adopted in Senate Bill 762 (2021).
HB2587 undoes provisions adopted in Senate Bill 762 (2021).
SB762 was based on recommendations from the bi-partisan Governor’s Wildfire Council report developed in response to the disastrous 202 wildfire year. Some Oregonians and their legislators oppose provisions of SB762 based on misunderstanding fed by misinformation and disinformation regarding fire ecology principles. These bills are designed to undermine the bi-partisan effort of the Governor’s Wildfire Council and SB762.
SB647 prevents local governments from prohibiting natural gas use in or availability for new or existing residential or commercial buildings.
Buildings are responsible for some 40% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Contributors to this value include the emissions resulting from the so-called embodied energy of construction, along with the day-to-day operations of buildings. The former results in so-called embodied carbon emissions while latter includes the direct day-to-day operational use of fossil (natural) gas and electricity generated from coal, oil or gas-fired power plants.
HB2685 Restores availability of income or corporate excise tax credit for processing or collection of woody biomass. This bill would provide a tax credit for those using biomass as a source of energy. Although promoted as a means of encouraging wildfire protection by removing woody debris from forests, it could also promote logging which compromises forest health and results both in greenhouse gas emissions from the harvest itself and precludes further sequestration of carbon from the previously standing trees. SOCAN testimony on HB2685.
HB2236 prohibits Governor and specified state agencies from taking measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon unless authorized by Legislative Assembly by law enacted on or after effective date of Act.
The climate science deniers frequently offer proposals that they argue do not reflect denial of the science, but reflect concerns about due process, or fairness, or something. But, they never offer a proposal that actually would, in any way, address the climate crisis. Here’s another example of climate science denial at work.
HB2195 prohibits municipality that administers and enforces building inspection program from adopting construction standards or methods from Reach Code, or similar or related code of standards and methods, that exceed or are more stringent than statewide standards and methods [that the] Director of Department of Consumer and Business Services adopts and administers.
The whole idea of so-called ‘Reach Code’ in construction is to provide a set of standards that are more rigorous in some way than the standard state building codes. Her is yet another example f legislators bit undermining the ability of local jurisdictions of establishing rule appropriate for their community and that address major issues such as the climate crisis or wildfire protection.
HB3022 prohibits Environmental Quality Commission and Department of Environmental Quality from adopting or enforcing rules or standards related to motor vehicle fuels or emissions unless authorized by Legislative Assembly by law enacted on or after effective date of Act.
Another legislative proposal that simply undermines the ability of a state agency to perform its duly assigned and authorized responsibilities under the guise of ‘defending democracy.’ In this case, the proposal would precent the DEQ from reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the economic sector responsible for the largest percentage of Oregon’s regulated greenhouse gases. SOCAN testimony on HB3022.
The Pro-nuclear Package
SB676 removes requirement that adequate repository for terminal disposition of high-level radioactive waste be licensed as precondition for issuance of site certificate for nuclear-fueled thermal power plant.
SB831 removes requirement that adequate repository for terminal disposition of high-level radioactive waste be licensed as precondition for issuance of site certificate for nuclear-fueled thermal power plant.
SB832 removes small modular reactor power plants from regulation of energy facilities by Energy Facility Siting Council.
HB2215 removes requirement that adequate repository for terminal disposition of high-level radioactive waste be licensed as precondition for issuance of site certificate for nuclear-fueled thermal power plant.
SOCAN’s Position on Nuclear Power is:
SOCAN acknowledges the role that nuclear energy now contributes to the U.S. energy mix, but rejects claims by the nuclear industry and nuclear proponents that genuinely clean renewable energy cannot supply our global current and future energy demand. SOCAN recognizes the benefit of retaining existing nuclear plants, including aging and unprofitable ones that meet stringent safety and transparency conditions, until such time that safer, more economical and sustainable alternative renewables and efficiencies are available. Meanwhile, SOCAN recognizes that nuclear energy is inferior to solar and wind in: taking up to four times longer and costing much more to bring online than wind; producing much more carbon dioxide equivalent per unit of energy generated than solar or wind; and risking promotion of weapons proliferation, meltdown, waste, mining hazards, and further radioactive contamination of humans and the environment. SOCAN also urges (demands) that before any consideration be given to expanding nuclear generation, the 1957 Federal Price Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act, extended in 2005 through 2025, is repealed. This Act results in taxpayers indemnifying (bearing the cost of covering nuclear accidents for) damages from an incident at a nuclear facility that exceed about $15 billion. Board approved 12/04/2021
For an explanatory background on this position, visit Background to SOCAN’s Position Statement on the Nuclear Option. SOCAN’s testimony on HB2215
Second Tier Bill Opposing
SB251 Creates income tax credit for energy production in Oregon. Robinson. This insane anti-Oregon nonsensical bill would provide tax break incentives to all forms of energy thus promoting global warming and the climate crisis.
SB795 directs State Board of Forestry to convey certain state forest lands to county that determines that county would secure greatest permanent value of lands to county and requests conveyance. Girod, Brock Smith. SOCAN testimony Submitted
SB833 requires Oregon State University to study use of thorium as nuclear fuel in nuclear power plant. Brock Smith. Another bill designed to promote nuclear power.