Oregon lawmakers this week approved what’s been described as the nation’s most ambitious clean electricity standard, targeting 100% emissions-free power for the state by 2040.
The state Senate on Saturday passed House bill 2021, known familiarly as the 100% Clean Energy for All bill, by a 16-12 vote. The legislation was approved in the state House on Friday. It now heads to the desk of Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat who is expected to sign it.
Under the bill, Oregon aims to transition entirely to emissions-free electricity by 2040. The legislation lays out a timetable for the state’s two major power companies — Portland General Electric and Pacific Power — to reduce emissions. Additionally, it bans the expansion or new construction of power plants that burn fossil fuels and allocates $50 million in grants for community-based energy projects, among other measures.
The bill passed as Oregon heads into a potentially record-breaking heat wave. Meteorologists have forecasted temperatures up to 30 degrees above normal across swathes Oregon and neighboring Washington this weekend.
“Look at the temperatures expected this weekend, and ongoing and prolonged drought,” Democratic state Rep. Pam Marsh, one of the bill’s most vocal advocates, said on the House floor Friday, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. “What I know when I look at that is if we fail to address the underlying conditions, we are just going to be back in this Capitol, year after year, trying to help communities out of disastrous situations.”
Oregon Democrats celebrated the passage of HB 2021 on Saturday, describing it as a “huge win for Oregon’s environment and economy” and the “strongest electricity emissions reduction timeline” in the county.
As Oregon Public Broadcasting noted, HB 2021 would enact one of the country’s most ambitious timelines for achieving an emissions-free power grid.
Oregon Republicans haven’t shared Democrats’ enthusiasm for the legislation, which which they’ve characterized as a potential threat to the state’s power grid.
An overwhelming majority of the state’s Republican lawmakers voted against HB 2021.
“It sounds good on the 5 o’clock news, but it will not help on the ground,” GOP state Sen. Lynn Findley said.