In March 2020, Oregon’s Governor Brown signed Executive Order 20-04, directing state agencies to take actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The order sets the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals to be at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2035 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The order also directed Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) to figure out how to meet those goals. Last week, ODEQ issued its preliminary report outlining the cap and reduce program. The report describes the process, timeline and articulates unresolved issues. The goal is to have the cap and reduce program finalized in 2021.
The report is not long, and I’d encourage people to read it. Here are a few takeaways that are worth calling out:
This last point shows ODEQ’s clear understanding of how offsets are an important tool in regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The report states, “alternative compliance instruments…could mitigate the costs of compliance, while simultaneously producing greater overall emissions reductions.” Although the report doesn’t address the criteria for project-based reductions (i.e., offsets) directly, ODEQ appears headed in that direction. That makes sense given California’s cap and trade program’s successful use of offsets as a pathway to provide lower-cost methods of meeting compliance goals. If that is the case, offsets could play an important role in the early days of Oregon’s cap and reduce program.