The State Legislature Takes Climate Action, Supported by City

The 81st Oregon legislative session ended on Jun. 28, just as the state smashed records for high temperatures. A big part of what went on inside the Capitol this year was working to address the state’s environment outside. The City of Beaverton supported many of the legislative items focused on the environment that passed this session.  

Environmental highlights from the session included:  

Clean Energy – House Bill 2021 passed as one of the most ambitious plans in the country to eliminate carbon emissions from the electricity sector. The bill starts the clock for electrical utilities to reach zero emissions by 2040 (80 percent reduction by 2030 and 90 percent reduction by 2035). It will also allow cities like Beaverton and electrical utilities to develop rate schedules for community renewable energy projects to meet local climate goals. (Beaverton has a goal of net-zero emissions from electricity by 2035.) It includes strong labor standards for new renewable energy projects, ensures Tribal consultation, and prioritizes benefits for low-income and BIPOC communities.  

Transportation Electrification – The transportation sector is the largest single source of both greenhouse gas emissions in the state and pollutants that are an immediate public health risk for vulnerable communities. HB 2165 expands electric vehicle (EV) access by removing the sunset on funding for the state’s EV rebate programs and strengthening those programs to better serve low-income, BIPOC, and rural communities. It also furthers investment in EV charging infrastructure by electrical utilities, requiring that half of those investments benefit low-income, BIPOC, and rural communities. An additional bill, HB 2180 now requires private multifamily and commercial parking facilities to provide EV charging capability for 20 percent of spaces and includes a location option for cities like Beaverton to opt for higher percentage.  

Recycling Modernization – Senate Bill 582 addresses many of the problems that currently plague Oregon’s aging recycling system, sets statewide plastic and recycling contamination reduction goals, and increases accessibility in rural areas and apartment complexes. It addresses the plastics crisis by making producers formally responsible for what happens to their packaging and — for the first time — incentivizes companies selling products in Oregon to reduce the overall environmental burden of their packaging. These changes will make recycling easier for the public, expand access to recycling services, and upgrade the facilities that sort recyclables. 

Climate change demands action on every level — from statewide legislative action that can take years to develop and implement, to changes in our everyday patterns around what we use and consume. 

Visit www.SustainableBeaverton.com to learn about changes you can make at home that don’t require an act of the Legislature.