Portland, OR – Today, Oregon’s Governor confirmed what had become clear to many over the last week: Oregonians don’t have to choose between good roads and clean air. Representatives of groups as disparate as Oregon’s schools and utility ratepayers objected to a proposed “replacement” for clean air legislation that had been tacked on to a transportation bill. Legislators rejected the package and decided much needed transportation funding should be considered on its own merits.
“Oregonians deserve clean air and safe roads. To pit one against the other is a false choice and helps no one. We need both,” says Andrea Durbin, Executive Director of the Oregon Environmental Council. “The Clean Fuels Program was crafted over seven years, and is the most cost efficient, effective way to grow jobs and provide every Oregonian with cleaner air.”
The program will reduce climate pollution from transportation fuels by 10% over ten years starting in 2015, while providing a new market for investments in clean energy technologies. Tailpipe emissions are the main source of carbon pollution in Oregon and also harm air quality–contributing to health problems such as asthma, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
“Children with asthma and adults with chronic lung disease will breathe easier with each passing year as fuels, and the air, become cleaner in Oregon,” said Carrie Nyssen of the American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific.
Crafted behind closed doors, the proposed replacement took language from two oil industry funded ballot measures and would have set up over a dozen barriers for clean fuels producers eager to enter into Oregon’s transportation fuels market.
“This whole debacle lived and died on the oil industry’s meddling. Big Oil tried to rewrite the clean fuels program in a ‘my way or no highway’ gambit. In so doing Big Oil killed the chance for a transportation package this session,” said Doug Moore, executive director of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. “We’re doing our part to cut pollution, and perhaps more importantly, showing the nation it is possible to both grow the economy and protect the environment.”
A range of groups representing health, business, schools and the environment raised strong objections to the “replacement” package, which double counted emissions reductions and took funding from other renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. These concerns were confirmed when a representative from ODOT revised down the carbon savings of the proposed plan by over 15% on Wednesday.
Legislators also heard from numerous groups anxious to see a strong transportation package, however both the Portland Business Alliance and the Oregon Business Association made it clear that their support was not predicated on a repeal of clean fuels. Oregon businesses testified they stand ready to meet the demand for cleaner fuels and want lawmakers to make good on promises made when legislators and the governor passed Clean Fuels in both 2009 and 2015.
About Oregon Environmental Council: Oregon Environmental Council safeguards what Oregonians love about Oregon—clean air and water, an unpolluted landscape and healthy food produced by local farmers. For more than 45 years we’ve been a champion for solutions to protect the health of every Oregonian and the place we call home. Find out more at www.oeconline.org.
About the Oregon League Of Conservation Voters: The Oregon League of Conservation Voters is a non-partisan organization that works to pass laws to protect our natural legacy, elect pro-environment candidates, and hold all of our elected officials accountable.
About Climate Solutions: Climate solutions is a Northwest-based clean energy economy non-profit working to accelerate practical and profitable solutions to global warming by galvanizing leadership, growing investment and bridging divides.