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Positive Winds of Climate Policy | Scorcher

Published: November 13, 2017 by Editorial Team

Sean Penrith, The Climate Trust
Weekly Policy and Finance Update – November 13, 2017

Bottom line | Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia may be right that ‘Government doesn’t move unless it’s pushed,’ no ambitious climate policy moves forward without champions.

I moved to the U.S. in 1999. Since that time, I have had my fair share of interaction with policymakers in my state of Oregon, in D.C., in neighboring Washington, and in Sacramento, CA. In regards to climate policy, a few have stood out, leaving me with a positive impression. Oregon state senator Jackie Dingfelder was a force of nature with a can-do attitude. Another force was Senator Chris Edwards, champion of the 2016 Healthy Climate Act that was designed to replace Oregon’s decade old bill that set non-binding goals of reducing emissions to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 75% by 2050. Regrettably we lost Jackie to the City of Portland and then New Zealand, and Chris to the University of Oregon.

I first encountered Senator Michael Dembrow (District 23) when I was asked to deliver testimony to the Senate Environmental and Natural Resources Committee in June 2015. Dembrow currently chairs this Committee. My brief was to articulate the opportunity that existed for Oregon to act on pricing carbon. He struck me as approachable and studious. Senator Dembrow’s questions were thoughtful and he appeared deeply curious about the topic. I later learned that his demeanor fit well with his tenure as an English instructor at Portland Community College.

I met Representative Ken Helm (District 34) in his office in Salem in March of this year. He was an intent listener, probing for information and insights on how carbon markets could help preserve and enhance natural working lands while balancing equity considerations. Given his love of the state’s natural outdoors and his experience at Metro, this made sense. Helm upheld Metro’s urban growth boundary reserve decision, rode shotgun on a signature regional riparian protection ordinance, and serves as a land use enforcement hearings officer for counties and cities in Oregon. It was clear to me that Helm strives for solutions that balance economic and job growth with protecting the state’s natural treasures and working lands. Helm currently chairs the House Committee on Energy and Environment.

In September this year, Representative Helm and Senator Dembrow invited me to participate in a series of joint meetings to advance the Clean Energy Jobs bill, Senate Bill 1070, aka the cap-and-invest carbon bill. At the end of the third and final work group meeting on November 2nd, Senator Dembrow offered his concluding remarks—saying he hoped that the planned process of joint meetings and work group sessions with consideration and discussion of multiple perspectives from Oregon stakeholders would serve as a model. This struck me. The guiding principles for the Clean Energy Jobs Group never professed to position anything as a model for those that might similarly consider pricing carbon. Helm and Dembrow’s careful assembly of a structure, forum, and process that served as a blueprint was impressive.

As I left Hearing Room 50, I told Representative Helm that he and Senator Dembrow had restored my faith that we still had sound climate policy champions in our state and thanked him.

Research and Resources

Comparison of Cap-and-Trade Programs: California, Ontario, Quebec, and Oregon
Oregon State Legislature, 2017

Overview of Senate Bill 1070 ‘Cap-and-Invest’
Oregon State Legislature, 2017

Top News Headlines

Oregon Democrats’ $1.4 billion carbon pricing plan looms over 2018 session
Hillary Borrud, The Oregonian, September 30, 2017

Lawmakers Divide Up Work on Cap-and-Invest Legislation
Dale Penn & Zack Reeves, CFM, September 26, 2017

Climate Trust Sees $5 Billion New Demand For North American Offsets Through 2030
Peter Weisberg, Ecosystem Marketplace, October 31, 2017

Nothing But Clear Skies Blog

Offsets Offer Impact, Real Carbon Reductions in Natural Working Lands
Sean Penrith, November 6, 2017

Recent Scorcher

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A New Phase of Development for California Dairy Digesters Peter Weisberg, Oct 30, 2017
Ontario’s Better Manages Offset Invalidation Peter Weisberg, Oct 23, 2017

Image credit: Flickr/Bemep