REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
HB 2020 Testimony - Oregon Environmental Protection Act
February 5, 2019
Chair Helm, Vice-Chair Reschke, Vice-chair Schouten, members of the committee,
Thank you for inviting me to testify today.
Today, we are standing together to take the next step in preserving the beauty and bounty of Oregon for future generations.
Oregon has a long tradition of being on the forefront of environmental stewardship. Many say that it all began 56 years ago when a television reporter named Tom McCall stood in front of this river and hosted a documentary called “Pollution in Paradise.” With arresting images of dying fish and bubbling water, he exposed the businesses that dumped thousands of gallons of toxic waste into the Willamette.
People were so moved not just by his words and passion, but by the reality of what was happening to the Willamette River. A host of environmental regulations were ushered in and polluters were put on notice. Tom McCall led these efforts before much of the rest of the country took similar actions.
Now today, we have an opportunity to take the next step in preserving the beauty and bounty of Oregon for future generations. To again cement Oregon’s place on the cutting edge of environmental stewardship.
Oregon’s clean air and water are part of what makes our state a great place to live, work, and play. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has relentlessly attacked environmental safeguards that keep our communities healthy and vibrant.
When I first announced this bill in the fall, the Trump Administration had reversed course on 46 landmark environmental regulations according to the Regulatory Rollback Tracker at Harvard Law School. Just four months later that number has climbed to 53.
An essay published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that based on the EPA’s own numbers, these rollbacks will result in 80,000 deaths across the country in the next decade, and 1 million additional cases of respiratory illness. As you know, children in Oregon already have one of the highest rates of asthma in the country.
These rollbacks have cleared the way for coal mines and oil wells on public lands.
They have eliminated the Clean Power Plan and set our national energy policy backwards.
And the list goes on and on.
I will not stand idly by.
We must assure that the standards of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Safe Drinking Water Act do not roll back here in Oregon. And, along with many other states, we can send a signal that rolling back federal environmental laws only creates uncertainty for businesses.
My colleagues all across the country have begun taking the same actions. California. Washington. Colorado and Hawaii, all have signed onto a letter committing our states to continuing the American tradition of letting science guide the policies that protect our health, our welfare, and our future.
As states working together, we can take a leadership role in preventing the erosion of core laws that protect our environment. Several of my fellow Governors have issued executive orders to prevent these rollbacks from affecting their states. But you and I know that legislation is more durable, and that this bill is an insurance policy for our children. With this act, they will know that Oregon is not backsliding on its environmental commitment.
In Oregon, that rollback stops now.
Oregon will stand for clean air and clean water, and we will defend the health of our children and our children’s children.