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Governor Brown signs executive order directing Oregon agencies to enforce strict carbon goals

The death of a cap-and-trade bill in this year's short and strained legislative session will not be the end of Oregon's efforts to reduce carbon emissions, according to the Governor's new plan.

Posted: Mar 10, 2020 10:57 AM
Updated: Mar 10, 2020 11:45 AM

SALEM, Ore. — After a second legislative session failed to produce a successful cap-and-trade climate bill following two walkouts by Republican lawmakers, Governor Kate Brown announced on Tuesday the executive action she intends to take instead.

The infusion of $5 million to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on Monday marked the preamble to Governor Brown's efforts to single-handedly enact more stringent carbon emission standards in Oregon.

On Tuesday morning, Governor Brown's office said that she would host a press conference at 10:30 a.m. in the Capitol building "to discuss the next steps her administration will be taking to address climate change and the reduction of carbon emissions in Oregon."

Backed by a group of youth climate activists, Brown began by describing the impact that climate change would have on younger generations if not addressed by leaders.

"If we adults don’t take action right away, it is the next generation that will pay the price. We owe it to them to do our part to ensure that the globe they inherit is on a better trajectory than the one it’s on today," Brown said. "Immediate and comprehensive efforts are needed to tackle this scourge that is devastating the Oregon we know and love, and a smart approach can both protect the environment and grow our economy."


RELATED: Oregon's Republican walkout ends, cap-and-trade bill 'dead' (2019)


Brown said that the executive order would be "sweeping and comprehensive," directing state agencies to tackle climate change by setting new science-based reduction goals.

"As a state, we will pursue every option available under existing law to combat the effects of climate change and put Oregon on a path we can be proud to leave behind for our children," Brown said.

The executive order would essentially aim for the same ambitious goals that the latest cap-trade-bill, Senate Bill 1530, had contained. Governor Brown referenced statements she made in July of 2019 — promising to take executive action if lawmakers could not agree on a climate bill that contained certain compromises.

Under the executive order, the Oregon DEQ would set and enforce more stringent "sector-specific" carbon standards for the transportation and natural gas industries, as well as other large industrial polluters. The caps set would grow lower over time in an effort to meet the state's reduction goals.

For the state as a whole, those goal include reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2035, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

It also includes a gradually higher clean fuel standard. The state would aim to lower pollution from fuels 25 percent by 2035.

"This is the most ambitious goal for clean fuels in the country, and it will substantially reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector, using a model proven to reduce pollution at a very minimal cost," Brown's office said. "At the same time, it will create new jobs in the biofuels sector and expand investment in transportation electrification."

Governor Brown said that three major goals of the bill would be environmental justice for communities most impacted by climate change, funds for the transition to a clean energy industry, and a greater focus on wildfire mitigation.

According to Brown, her Department of Justice has reviewed the executive order to ensure it complied with the Oregon Constitution and laws. In spite of that, a legal challenge from Republicans is practically inevitable.


RELATED: Oregon Senate Republicans walk out to deny cap-and-trade vote


“The Governor is ignoring Oregonians. She is not listening to three quarters of the state or the 28 counties that signed proclamations against the cap and trade concept," said Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, R-Grants Pass. "It’s obvious Kate Brown is not Oregon’s Governor, she is Portland’s Governor, and as she promised, she is serving revenge, cold and slowly.”

This is a developing story, and NewsWatch 12 will update the article with more details as they emerge.

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