REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
2020 CUB Conference
October 16, 2020
Good morning, everyone! Thank you, Bob, for the introduction and welcome to the 10th annual Oregon Citizen Utility Board energy policy conference.
I’m sure this is not how you envisioned celebrating this important milestone. This has been a challenging year, to say the least.
And many of the challenges we are facing – climate change, historic wildfire, and a global pandemic – will shape the course of the future of energy.
Before COVID-19 hit our communities, I issued Executive Order 20-04, calling on state agencies to use every tool within their toolbox to reduce emissions, in order to combat the threat of climate change. I’m happy to report that our agencies are making great progress.
Now I need to call on the utilities, energy providers, and clean energy advocates in this Zoom room: we have no time to waste. We must accelerate our efforts to move away from coal and natural gas to renewable energy sources. And we must do it while maintaining affordable and reliable energy service.
The state should be collaborating with you all to make this happen – because as we all know, there is no Planet B. Last month’s devastating wildfires leave no doubt that climate change threatens the health, livelihood, and even the very lives of Oregonians across our state.
Years of ignoring climate change at the federal level has left states with the difficult task of individually reducing greenhouse gases, including rapidly decarbonizing the energy sector, while caring for our communities as they react, recover, and adapt to the effects of our changing environment.
Of course, for the last eight months, COVID-19 has challenged families and businesses in Oregon in new and profound ways. As we continue to grapple with the public health and economic impacts of the crisis, it is imperative that utilities, state agencies, and community partners do everything possible to help vulnerable Oregonians who may be struggling financially to keep the lights and the heat on, especially as we head into the colder winter months.
I want to thank CUB for its leadership in this arena, and the utilities for their continued cooperation and flexibility supporting customers across Oregon.
I have faith that Oregon will not only recover, but build back even stronger than we were before. We must take lessons we are learning about climate change, from last month’s fires, and from this pandemic, and put the needs of our historically marginalized communities first. Changing our thinking will shape the future of Oregon for generations to come – and create a future where everyone has the chance to thrive.
As we collectively work to design the energy system of the future, our priorities should reflect, support, and honor the environment as well as the communities who have been most deeply impacted by systemic racism. With these values at the center of our work, we will be able to build a strong, sustainable, and resilient Oregon – for everyone.