There is no precedent for the challenge now facing the world. For over a million years carbon dioxide (CO2) hovered around 280 ppm in the atmosphere. Fossil fuel combustion has pushed CO2 to over 400 ppm, a level not seen on Earth for 20 million years. We’re already seeing the impacts of increased surface temperatures, with more droughts, flooding, heat waves, ice storms, fire storms and overall storm intensity. For example, Guatemala has seen their fourth major hurricane since November, causing deadly floods and landslides, contributing to the crisis at our border. We must drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions this decade to avoid the tropics becoming uninhabitable, and the rest of the planet desperately uncomfortable.
Fortunately, renewables like wind and solar are now the cheapest energy sources and utilities are beginning to transition away from fossil fuels. So much so, that the state’s largest utilities (PGE and Paci Corp) have joined with a coalition of environmental and social justice groups in support of House Bill 2021, the Oregon 100% Clean Energy bill. HB 2021 requires utilities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2030 and be 100% clean by 2040. The utilities are only required to spend 4% of their annual revenue towards meeting the mandate, costing taxpayers nothing. Experts agree the targets are doable, however exemptions will be temporarily permitted if needed to keep rates from rising or if there are reliability issues.
Now that HB 2021 has passed committee, I’m counting on Representative Boomer Wright to support this important legislation. I’ve spoken with Rep. Wright and I know he is concerned about climate change. Boomer sponsored the Ocean Acidification bill (HB 3114), as we nearly lost our oyster industry and crab shells are beginning to melt. Eventually there will be no calcifying organisms, if we don’t decarbonize swiftly. HB 2021 can pass the House with the support of just 2 Republicans. Environmentalists have been extremely frustrated with past Democratic representation, we’re ready to support anyone who will act to protect our future in this purple district.