The Oregon League of Conservation Voters coordinates the Oregon Conservation Network, a coalition of over 40 organizations throughout the state united in one message: together, we can pass pro-conservation priorities, protect our unique quality of life, and ensure a better Oregon for our children. For nearly 20 years, OCN has advocated for a shared agenda, our Priorities for a Healthy Oregon, while also identifying and fighting policies that threaten our natural legacy.
For the 2015 legislative session, OCN is advocating the following Priorities for a Healthy Oregon:
Clean Fuels for Oregon — SB 324
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 that will improve air quality and help address climate change. Clean Fuels are projected to save households and businesses as much as $1.6 billion through increased consumer fuel choices. Removing the Program’s 2015 sunset will create the certainty the clean fuels industry needs to bring sustainable jobs to Oregon.
A 21st Century Transportation Package
People and goods are stuck in traffic, putting a drag on our economy. Roads are crumbling, driving up the cost of repair. Transit districts can’t keep up with demand and are cutting bus service, jeopardizing the ability of Oregonians who can’t afford or aren’t able to drive. In many communities, it is unsafe to bicycle or walk. Gas and diesel are making our air unhealthy to breathe and changing our climate. Everyone benefits from a wider range of more affordable transportation options. We advocate for creating a new source of significant, stable funding for transit operation and funding safe walking and biking networks, as well as ensuring a transportation package that puts existing road maintenance ahead of new projects.
Reforming the Department of Fish and Wildlife — HB 5006
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is faced with an unprecedented budget shortfall that compromises its existing and future conservation programs. With legislative action in 2015, ODFW can be made functional, whole, stable, and accountable to the public for fulfilling its broad conservation mission to “…protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations.”
Coal to Clean Energy — SB 477 and HB 2729
Despite recent positive steps to close Oregon’s only coal-fired power plant by 2020, our state’s dependence on coal remains. Approximately one-third of the power used in homes and businesses in Oregon comes from dirty, aging coal burning plants. Senate Bill 477/House Bill 2729, the Coal to Clean Energy transition bill, will move Oregon’s investor owned electric utilities off of coal to clean, renewable energy sources by 2025 and encourage renewable industry growth and job creation in and around Oregon. The bill sets 2025 as the date to transition away from all coal use in Oregon’s electricity mix, and requires that the replacement power be 90% cleaner than coal, allowing for an energy mix that is primarily clean renewable energy, like wind and solar. The bill will also encourage local clean energy development in the region whenever possible.
Protecting the Elliott State Forest
Clearcutting old-growth forests to fund children’s education in Oregon is as archaic as hunting whales for lamp oil, yet this arrangement continues on the 93,000-acre Elliott State Forest east of Coos Bay. In 2015, our coalition will work with the State Land Board and Department of State Lands to find a replacement revenue source for the Common School Fund on these lands while safeguarding the Elliott’s remaining legacy forests, clean water, recreation opportunities, salmon and wildlife habitat, and timber jobs.
Protecting Rural Oregonians from Pesticides — SB 613
Whereas Oregon was once a leader in forest management in the 1970’s, our state has fallen into last place amongst all the Pacific Northwest states when it comes to protecting drinking water, salmon streams, and rural community health from pesticide drift and run-off. The Oregon Forest Practices Act allows aggressive logging practices that rely on large scale clear-cutting, followed by multiple aerial herbicide applications. Reliance on aerial herbicide sprays has generated concern about herbicide exposure, particularly among rural residents who live and work near industrial logging lands. SB 613 would improve the advance notice community members receive about aerial spraying and slash burning and improve peoples’ access to accurate information after a spray, as well as require the creation of science-based pesticide spray buffers to protect residences, schools, drinking water, and fish.