Opinion: The clean energy bill is a victory for the climate and the community


Alessandra de la Torre and Bob Jenks

De la Torre is an energy justice organizer with Rogue Climate and lives in Talent. Jenks is executive director of the Oregon Citizens’ Utility Board and lives in Portland.

Oregon has had a difficult year in which the climate crisis has been felt increasingly severely in our communities. It can be difficult to have hope for the future of our state and our planet. But on June 26, at the start of three hottest days in Oregon history, the legislature passed the House Bill 2021 – 100% Clean Energy for All. We celebrate this achievement because HB 2021 will help mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis while building more resilient and prosperous communities.

Our organizations, Oregon Citizens ‘Utility Board and Rogue Climate, are two of the many stakeholders that have shaped HB 2021. As an advocate for residential utility customers, the Oregon Citizens’ Utility Board has helped shape decades of policy. energy of our state, while Rogue Climate represents a new and necessary direction ­– an energy justice-based led and advocated for rural residents, low-income Oregonians and communities of color. This bill gives us hope because it shows our way to greater transformation.

HB 2021 has a big but achievable vision to move Oregon’s two largest utilities and its electric utility providers to 100% clean energy by 2040, the most ambitious timeline of its kind. It is also the first legislation in a state to ban new fossil-fueled power plants.

There are many firsts in HB 2021, but what excites us most is how it centers environmental justice and community benefits. The bill explicitly states that the strategies we use to achieve 100% clean energy must minimize the burdens on Black, Indigenous and other communities of color; rural and low-income communities; and in particular the tribes, who continue to suffer significant damage from our current dam-fed system which has wiped out salmon populations. These strategies are also to create opportunities throughout Oregon through good jobs with strict labor standards and community-wide projects that stimulate economic development and provide localized and resilient energy production. HB 2021 also protects vulnerable people, such as seniors, by ensuring uninterrupted access to energy at affordable prices.

We celebrate the passage of HB 2021 not only because it is a momentous climate policy achievement, but also because it is also an achievement in community organizing, policy development and collaboration. Through strong core values ​​and leadership from environmental justice and community groups like Rogue Climate, we have formed the largest and most diverse coalition to ever support clean energy legislation in the history of Canada. ‘Oregon, with climate activists, utilities, local governments, labor groups, independent power producers, lawmakers and customer advocates like the Citizens’ Utility Board. A lot Stakeholders who had never worked together – or worked well together – built a trust that will be vital to carrying out the practical, community-centered, frontline approach in HB 2021.

We need this bill more than ever. Over the past year, over a million acres and many neighborhoods have burned down in catastrophic fires. Oregon residents went without power for days after a winter storm. At the end of HB 2021, the state was devastated by a deadly heat wave which experts say is now a direct result of man-made climate change. All of these events are a testament to the need to find solutions that allow us to move towards a cleaner, more regenerative economy – an economy that ensures community resilience, with the help of reliable and affordable electricity to power a future. more equitable. But it also speaks to the need to do this work in a way that is fair-minded and daring. We are celebrating HB 2021 as a step in that direction.

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