Once again, the Oregon Conservation Network, a coalition of over 40 diverse organizations statewide coordinated by the OLCV Education Fund, worked together this session to protect Oregon’s natural legacy.
As OCN nears its 20th anniversary, we promoted proactive policies – our Priorities for a Healthy Oregon – and fought bills that rollback important environmental protections – our Major Threats to a Healthy Oregon. We passed two of our four Priorities for a Healthy Oregon, in addition to scoring a major win on the state’s budget for natural resource agencies, and only one Major Threat passed into law.
The 2013 Priorities for a Healthy Oregon were…
Energy Efficient Appliances – SB 692: A key aspect of energy efficiency efforts is establishing strong standards for appliances used in homes and businesses. If appliances are built to use energy efficiently from the start, then less energy is needed to power those appliances. That means consumers have a lower power bills – and Oregon moves towards its conservation goals. In 2013, we successfully passed a bill to establish efficiency standards for battery chargers, most televisions, and one type of exterior lighting.
Protecting Rivers from Suction Dredge Mining – SB 838 and SB 401: Countless Oregonians depend on iconic waterways such as the Rogue, Umpqua, Sandy, Grande Ronde, and McKenzie for their unique economic, public health, and recreational benefits. Yet, many of these Oregon treasures face a growing threat from largely unregulated and destructive uses such as suction dredge mining. We successfully placed limits on suction dredging starting in 2014, with the state directed to develop a more comprehensive regulatory framework in 2015. If and only if that framework fails to pass into law, a five year moratorium on gold dredging would kick in. A companion measure to add more river miles to the State Scenic Waterways program did not pass into law.
Clean Fuels for Oregon – SB 488: Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program can create thousands of jobs while reducing our state’s $7.7 billion-a-year dependence on imported gas and diesel. The Program encourages lower-carbon fuels like Oregon-made sustainable biofuels, electricity, natural gas, and propane, saves Oregonians money, and will improve air quality for every Oregon citizen. Removing the Program’s 2015 sunset would have created the certainty the clean fuels industry needs to bring sustainable jobs to Oregon. Unfortunately, the bill died on a 15-15 tie on the Senate floor just days before the end of session.
Protecting Oregon’s Water – SB 217: Responsibly managing Oregon’s water helps ensure a legacy of healthy rivers for everyone and everything that depends on our water. From farmers to fish all Oregonians who depend on clean water, healthy stream flows and a stable water supply will benefit. A small fee on water rights across Oregon would have created a reliable source of funding to promote better water management and support critically needed field and science tools for the Water Resources Department. The bill did not pass this session, but will be the subject of an interim work group.