Media Room

REMARKS AS PREPARED
Pacific Coast Collaborative Renewable Energy Panel 
6/2/2016

Through the Pacific Coast Collaborative, we are demonstrating that regional collaboration does make a difference, often greater than any one jurisdiction can accomplish on their own.

In step with our neighbors-- California, Washington, and British Columbia-- Oregon  is leader in the fight for a cleaner, more sustainable, and more resilient energy future.

Oregon was the first state to adopt a carbon standard for new power plants that effectively prevents any new coal fired power plant development in Oregon. 

We created the Global Warming Commission, enacted a clean fuels program to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation fuels in Oregon, and created the Oregon Renewable Portfolio Standard, requiring 20 percent renewable energy by 2020.

Part of the reason we’ve been so successful in Oregon is that we believe environmental value an economic development are not mutually exclusive goals. 

We accomplished a lot this past year alone: expanding the availability of solar energy in Oregon; and adopting landmark clean fuels legislation to help improve air quality and reduce the state’s carbon footprint. 

We’re also working to connect environmental quality with public health. It’s long past time the regulation of Oregon industrial emissions caught up with the scientific evidence connecting it with the well being of Oregonians. And in this effort, we’re gaining valuable insights from our colleagues in California, Washington, and British Columbia.

Perhaps best of all, earlier this Spring, I approved the nation’s first “Coal to clean” law, giving Oregon a vision for a future free of coal-powered electricity. 

“Coal to clean” is the roadmap to move Oregon off of coal-fired power and to double the amount of clean, renewable energy serving Oregonians to 50% by 2040. This is another important step towards meeting the commitment we’ve made as a partner in the Pacific Coast Collaborative and to the global community.

The “Coal to clean” bill also launches a 21st Century transportation electrification program to spur new investments in infrastructure that will dramatically transform Oregon’s passenger travel network.

And through an Integrated Resource Planning process, participating electric companies and stakeholders will develop new, least-cost and least-risk clean energy strategies at Oregon’s Public Utility Commission.

“Coal to clean” is testament to a broad, statewide collaboration of key partners, including our two largest electric utilities, energy industry and business groups, advocacy and community organizations. 

And today, although we are still not on track to meet critical greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, we are heading in the right direction. 

The impacts of climate change will affect us all-- regardless of jurisdictional boundaries. Worse yet, the impacts of climate change will hit low-income families, communities of color, and rural areas the hardest, amplifying latent disparities.

We’re working to get upstream on these disparities and prioritizing investments in local communities. For example, as part of our new “Coal to clean” law, Oregon is establishing a community solar program that has a 10% carve out for low-income communities so they too can access the benefits of solar power.

Clearly, we’re already seeing impacts of climate change. We must be resilient in adapting to these impacts in a way that works best for our unique circumstances, but we all recognize the power of working together, multiplying the positive outcomes we achieve, and providing an example for other regions who wish to move forward as well.

In addition to responding to the challenges of global climate change, our population is growing steadily, and with it, demands for water, land, energy, and economic development.

We need to be thoughtful in finding ways to keep our economy growing through new technologies and opportunities, and helping our energy-intensive industry sectors use less energy to produce their goods and products.

And as we adopt new policies so that we continue down the path of the energy resource mix of the future, we must make sure that we include necessary repairs and upgrades to aging infrastructure, while building out new transmission infrastructure needed to connect a diverse set of renewable resources to where people live, work, and play. 

In particular, I would like to commend Gov. Jerry Brown and California in pursuing discussions with western states about the expansion of a west-wide independent system operator.

That is the type of work that we need to overcome challenges and stay on the path towards the energy resource mix of the future.