Perspective on HB2020: “We Support HB2020 the Clean Energy Jobs Bill”

This blog post was written by 350PDX volunteers on the State Legislation team. Given the broad range of convictions, analyses, and strategies within our community, 350PDX is neutral on HB2020 as an organization, but we encourage our volunteers and supporters to continue to engage in the crucial work of crafting just, ambitious, precedent-setting climate legislation for Oregon.

You can find a companion blog post discussing critiques of HB2020 here.

350PDX State Legislative team and other climate justice groups in Oregon are working together to achieve passage of a strong Clean Energy Jobs bill (HB 2020) that will accomplish these four key objectives:

  1. Legislate a declining cap on greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution and drive down emissions to at least 80% of 1990 levels over the next 30 years.
  2. Make polluters pay for emissions of GHG in our shared atmosphere.
  3. Invest in a just transition to a clean energy future by allocating funds to low income and communities impacted by climate change.
  4. Provide strong, transparent and accessible oversight with representation that ensures geographic and demographic diversity.

HB2020 was developed by some of the most progressive legislators in Oregon, guided by lessons learned from cap and invest programs elsewhere.  The process included a wide array of environmental and social justice groups, members of impacted communities, economists and scientists, public officials, and the general public.  

The proposed HB2020, as sent to the Ways and Means committee will:

  • Raise about $550 million in the initial years, with the majority of the funds to be invested with impacted communities for projects to reduce GHG emissions and support adaptation to climate change;
  • Require all offsets be real, permanent, quantifiable, verifiable, enforceable, in addition to reductions required by law, and at least half of the programs must be in Oregon;
  • Limit use of offsets to 8% of emissions for any entity and ensure that offsets cannot be used by a covered entity in any Oregon community that does not meet established air quality standards;
  • Decrease the number of free allowances by using the ‘best available technology’ standard; and
  • Cover all of road transportation, electric and gas utilities, and industrial sectors. It also mandates study of non-covered sectors including landfills and fuel for airplane, marine and rail locomotives.

Big emitting industries criticize the bill as too much regulation despite economic projections of increased growth resulting from the shift to cleaner energy. Some social justice groups criticize it based on experiences elsewhere where weak caps, low allowance prices and loose offset programs delivered less than hoped for results. Total emissions decreased with these early programs but left some communities with the same or slightly more local emissions. The State Legislation team has watched this bill develop and studied the issues in depth. We see how this bill is different from the earlier versions with a strong declining cap, limited issue of allowances, and controls on pricing and hoarding allowances. Many environmental justice groups around the state participated in work groups and provided advice to the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction.

In addition to the energy efficiency and bill rebate programs through the utilities, the bill provides specific allocation of the Climate Investment Fund to impacted communities (40%), Tribes (10%) and natural and working lands (20%).  Administration, rule making, and monitoring includes several citizen advisory groups and the Environmental Justice Task Force.

The many benefits that will be achieved with passage of HB2020 far exceed any potential harm. HB2020 will be a key addition to Oregon’s climate legislation, and a national model in progressive cap and invest legislation. It is not a complete solution; there is no single solution for a problem as complex as climate disruption. There will be more work to do.

We will push for the cap decline to ZERO by 2050, as well as a faster decline in free allowances. We must continue to work for additional legislation to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure in Oregon; to change the State Constitution to divert more transportation funds to public and electric transportation; and to develop statewide legislation to significantly increase carbon stored by forests and agricultural lands.

Passing a strong HB 2020 is a good next step in the plan to reduce GHG emissions to net zero. This bill gives us a framework to improve as public will and momentum grows. Community oversight is built into the program, and will be essential. We will need to protect the declining cap on climate pollution when this law is challenged through the referendum process and assaulted by fossil fuel companies who want to see us fail. We have spent many years getting to this point; now more than ever we need to rally together and act with ongoing commitment and resolve.

The latest IPCC report gives only 10 years to get climate pollution under control, and we cannot afford to wait several more years for “better” legislation.

350PDX State Legislation Team / Capping Carbon Campaign