2017 Priorities for a Healthy Oregon

For more information, contact Paige Spence, Oregon Conservation Network Director at paige@olcv.org

Clean Energy Jobs – SB 557

The impacts of climate change are hurting Oregonians. Our families, farmers, fishermen and firefighters are all bearing the burden of climate pollution. We are championing a policy that will cap climate pollution using the best available scientific guidelines for limiting Oregon’s share of global warming; price all qualified greenhouse gas emissions under the cap; and invest proceeds from pricing climate pollution into clean energy like wind and solar, public transit, energy efficient homes and businesses, and more. Equity and a just transition to clean energy are central to the policy: A minimum of 35% of proceeds will be invested to reduce pollution and climate impacts experienced by low-income and rural communities, communities of color, and impacted workers in Oregon.

Retiring Oregon’s Dirtiest Diesel – SB 1008

Oregon has a unique opportunity to dramatically reduce toxic diesel pollution. New diesel and other heavy-duty engines can run as much as 95% cleaner. A $73 million settlement with Volkswagen jumpstarts Oregon’s investment in cleaner engine technology. Diesel exhaust takes a $3.5 billion-dollar toll on the health and productivity of Oregonians each year. About 90% of Oregonians live in counties where diesel exhaust increases risk of cancer over a lifetime. In many neighborhoods, average diesel pollution levels exceed state health benchmarks by 20x or more. If we act now, we can retire older, dirty diesel engines and hold every heavy-duty truck, bus and bulldozer to tougher standards.

Public Lands in Public Hands: Saving the Elliott State Forest – SB 847 and Bonding Authority

The Elliott State Forest is an ecological treasure, containing 83,000 acres, home to old-growth trees, marbled murrelet, Coho salmon, and other sensitive or federally listed species. The Elliott needs a combination of administrative and legislative action in order to send a very clear signal – that we believe public lands belong in public hands and we do not sell off our values and land to the interests of corporations. Because of reduced logging revenues, the State Land Board, which directs management of the Elliott on behalf of the Common School Fund, has explored the sale of the forest. A proposal to privatize the Elliott was made in 2016 by Lone Rock Timber. The sale is strongly opposed by the conservation community. The State Land Board – made up of the Governor, the Treasurer, and the Secretary of State, will hold a public meeting on May 9 that will give direction as to the future of this proposed sale. The Governor is developing a plan that would keep the Elliott State Forest in public and tribal ownership, pursue up to $100 million in bonding to decouple a portion of the forest from Common School Fund trust lands, and allow for sustainable timber harvest (around 20 million board feet annually) while protecting endangered species, expecting to harvest an average of about 20 million board feet per year. Currently, the legislature is asked to pass legislation to create a Trust Land Transfer Program through SB 847. Soon, the legislature may be asked to approve the bonding money.

Protecting Oregon’s Rivers from Suction Dredge Mining – SB 3

Suction dredge mining – a form of recreational gold mining – involves vacuuming up riverbeds through a hose using a motorized floating dredge. This type of mining harms streams and native fish. It can smother critical spawning gravel for salmon; kill aquatic insects, fish eggs, and young fish; degrade stream habitats; and mobilize legacy mercury. A temporary, partial moratorium is in place. Our legislation creates permanent protections, particularly in lamprey and essential salmonid habitat. Passing permanent restrictions on suction dredge mining honors the late Senator Alan Bates, Senate District 3, with Senate Bill 3. Senator Bates was an avid Rogue River fly fisherman who worked for many years to prevent and reverse environmental damage caused by suction dredge mining.

Transportation for Oregon’s Future – Bill # TBD

Everyone’s top priority for this session is one of our priorities, too. Oregon needs to compete in the 21st century and that means investing in the infrastructure and services that best meet Oregonians’ needs: rural and urban transit, safe walking and biking options, clean air solutions, and public accountability. Our state must move beyond the old highways-focused approach and invest in one that is people-focused. Rural and urban Oregonians deserve a modern, connected transportation system with safe, affordable, healthy options for everyone.  That will give us cleaner air (the current transportation system is the #1 producer of Oregon’s climate changing pollution), economic development (transportation options provide more accessibility to jobs and frees up roadway space for trucks), and healthier Oregonians.

Supporting the State’s Budget – Agency Budget Bills

From our mountains to the valley, our deserts to the ocean, Oregon is like no other state in the country. But in order to protect and preserve our state for future Oregonians, today’s legislators must prioritize it. Natural resource agencies are in the unique position to provide knowledge, expertise, programs, resources, data collection, and compliance. That’s why they require the necessary funds to keep Oregon’s valuable resources available for generations to come. This legislative session, Oregon faces a $1.7 billion deficit. By working with the Governor’s office, agency staff, and the Ways & Means Committee members, OLCV is advocating for stable funding to protect the environment for the Oregonians of today and tomorrow. Currently, Oregon’s natural resource agencies account for around 2% of the state’s general fund dollars. Natural resource agencies have offered up to 15% budget cut lists, 7-8% of which is on the chopping block in the governor’s recommended budget, while the W&M Co-chairs budget includes deeper cuts. OCN supports efforts to find new revenue, which is necessary to support healthy Oregon natural resource agency budgets.