Oregon Makes History with Legislation to Replace Coal with Clean Energy

Published on
by
Sierra Club's Compas Blog

Oregon Makes History with Legislation to Replace Coal with Clean Energy

(Photo: Portland General Electric/flickr/cc)

On Wednesday, the Oregon state legislature passed a bill that is one of most significant actions ever taken in the United States on climate change and clean energy.

The bill, titled the “Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan", will move Oregon completely off coal by 2030 - including phasing out coal power being imported into the state on the grid - and ensure that most of that power is replaced by clean energy by doubling the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50 percent by 2040. It was passed with bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats, and it’s an historic victory for climate and clean energy leadership.

This bold step forward is not only good news for Oregon and the West. It also sends an important signal that, even as the Clean Power Plan makes its way through the courts following the recent stay issued by the Supreme Court, the U.S. will keep making progress towards meeting our carbon reduction commitments that the nation made at the climate summit in Paris in December of 2015.

Oregonians also overwhelmingly supported this policy with recent polling showing 70 percent wanted their legislator to vote to transition from coal to clean energy. When faced with a choice between supporting hundreds of millions of dollars in likely clean air upgrades to aging out of state coal plants or instead investing in the clean energy economy at home and in the region, Oregon ratepayers and legislative leaders pushed for the right path forward.

I am so proud of the many Oregon Beyond Coal and coalition activists who have spent years trying to secure a coal-free clean energy future for the state. Doctors, community leaders, members of the faith community, small business owners, students, moms, dads, and so many others worked tireless hours writing letters, talking to their elected officials, rallying, protesting, packing community hearings and more -- all because they want clean energy to power their state.

“(Wednesday’s) vote is a win-win for our climate and clean energy here in Oregon. The Clean Electricity and Coal Transition plan shows that we can come together to advance real climate solutions as we move away from coal and toward more clean energy,” said Andy Maggi, Oregon Sierra Club Chapter Director.

The bill is a historic  win for everyone in Oregon and beyond. In Oregon, coal plants make of 25 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Analysis of the legislation’s expected impact has shown that the plan will reduce carbon pollution across the western states by 30 million metric tons - the equivalent of taking 6.4 million cars off the road. It also includes measures to keep electricity prices affordable and ensure reliable electric service.

As I said last week while praising New York’s climate and clean energy leadership - the groundswell of support for clean energy nationwide continues to make historic strides. This move by Oregon is just the latest demonstration of the results being driven by a powerful, diverse coalition of people and organizations taking action on climate and clean energy. These ordinary visionaries are helping us get closer to meeting the goals of the Paris climate to stop climate disruption and save our planet.

This historic victory demonstrates yet again how states will keep the U.S. moving forward to reach our Paris climate commitment and continue leading the world in tackling the climate crisis. Indeed we are already seeing many states continue implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan despite the Supreme Court stay. I have no doubt that Oregon’s leadership will inspire other states and communities to take their own bigger, bolder steps away from coal and toward clean energy.

Mary Anne Hitt

Mary Anne Hitt is director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, which is working to eliminate coal's contribution to global warming and repower the nation with clean energy. www.sierraclub.org

Share This Article