Oregon New Green New Deal!

By Joe Culhane|February 6, 2019News, Top Stories|

[update: The Green New Deal legislature has been announced 2/7/19: The Green New Deal, explained]

You’ve likely heard or read the words “Green New Deal” in the past few months. It has been a hot topic in many circles across the nation, largely thanks to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). It is reported that Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass) are days away from introducing legislation to officially bring this Green New Deal to congress. In Oregon, dozens of organizations, including Oregon Just Transition Alliance (OJTA), are also spearheading an effort to have Oregon adopt it’s own legislative plan for a Green New Deal.

Green New Deal? What is it all about you may be wondering? It is proposed legislation that addresses the climate crisis and looks to adopt measures to aggressively mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

On the national level, there is a draft of the proposed legislation and development of a committee for the Green New Deal. This draft has been circulated around Washington since before the midterm elections and is believed to be traced back Ocasio-Cortez. It is thought that this will be close to what the actual legislation will look like.

In Oregon, there is a living document that was drafted by OJTA which lays out—in simple language—the reasons our state needs to take local initiative and make the changes now.

Here are the seven key areas they focus on and will help illuminate and clarify what the Green New Deal would mean for Oregonians:

  1. Phase Out Fossil Fuel Infrastructure
    Place a moratorium on all new fossil fuel permits and projects.

– Assess the risk to neighboring communities of existing fossil fuel infrastructure to prioritize and plan for its decommissioning.
– Offer workers job programs, including job training to transition from fossil fuel and other extractive industries to renewable energy and other sectors.

  1. Strong Regulation for Healthy, Breathable Air
    Enact strong regulation of diesel and other pollution from industry,transportation, and energy sectors.

– Use Oregon’s Volkswagen settlement funds and other funds to reduce diesel pollution, prioritizing investment toward tribes, rural communities, low income people, and communities of color and the businesses they own and operate.
– Ban trash incinerators from operating in our communities.
– Provide jobs and job training for workers from polluting industries to obtain green jobs.

  1. Clean, Community-Controlled, 100% Renewable Energy
    In order to limit global warming to 1.5 C we must reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

– Establish a pathway toward 100% renewable energy that prioritizes job creation for existing fossil fuel workers, low-income people and people of color, and creates opportunities for community-owned energy generation by low-income, tribal and rural communities to build thriving and sustainable Oregonian businesses and families.
– Ban greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels and nuclear generation electricity. Remove dams and provide restitution for tribes.
– Develop community-controlled energy projects and requirements for energy-neutral construction.
– Support low-income ratepayers through this transition.

  1. Climate-Smart, Sustainable
    Farms and Forests Care for Oregon’s natural and agricultural resources, people and communities who experience them.

– Ensure Oregon’s forests, which remove carbon from the air, are sustainably managed.
– Invest in tree canopies, resilient landscapes, and regenerative agriculture to sequester carbon and clean regional airsheds.
– Protect farm and forest workers, and the ecosystem from toxic emissions and harmful pesticides.
– Ensure green workforce opportunities for low-income, people of color, and former forest industry workers to create high-paying, sustainable jobs in the forest economy.

  1. Transportation Justice
    Address transportation, one of the largest carbon polluters in our state and a major source of air toxins and greenhouse gases.

– Expand the use of the Highway Trust Fund towards multi-modal transportation and moving people and cargo without fossil fuels.
– Ensure equitable electrification and driver’s license eligibility for all regardless of immigration status.
– Enact equitable regional transportation funding mechanisms.
– Expand the transit operations workforce.

  1. Protect Communities Already Experiencing a Changing Climate
    Ensure communities are prepared for and made whole following more extreme weather events including heat waves, poor air quality, forest fires, erosion, and floods. Directly engage Tribal, rural, and low-income communities and communities of color in this process.

– Offer outdoor workers and others whose jobs are destroyed by climate change new jobs and job training to transition to clean energy and other industries.
– Expand the restoration and disaster preparedness workforce. Ensure funding so that all communities have emergency shelters to protect residents in the case of a disaster.

  1. Fund the Just Transition
    Fund real climate solutions.

– Create progressive mechanisms and institutions, such as a Green Bank, to ensure communities are not competing for jobs or funding.
– Ensure equitable decision-making processes in the allocation of funds.
– Ensure equal access to training and jobs in the transition to a green economy with living wage, family-supporting jobs and protect and support existing sustainable jobs.
– Require all publicly funded projects to have specific local hire provisions.

This is a living document. Oregon Just Transition Alliance will continue to solicit and incorporate meaningful feedback from low-income people, rural communities, people of color, and tribal nations.

As you can see, there has been a thoroughly thought out plan that provides a pathway forward for Oregonians. We are at a place in time where imagination and a great deal of gumption needs to rise up in all of us to support these actions. If Oregon adopts its own Green New Deal, we will have tangible direction in place to take the lead in moving towards a more just and sustainable future.

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