Media Room


Governor Kate Brown
Lewis and Clark Law School Green Energy Institute
February 9, 2019

Thank you for the introduction, Chris, and welcome to so many incredible folks from across the US today participating in this very important conversation.

Good afternoon.

I’m very honored to be back at the Law School that I graduated from.

I understand that our neighbor to the north, Governor Inslee could not make it here this year. Maybe he is too busy running for President.

I don’t have to tell you there is something special about Oregon. 

Sure we are surrounded by incredible natural beauty, but we are also infused with something more:  a progressive spirit and a commitment to democracy so profound that we have come to lead the nation in its practice. 

From the nation’s first bottle bill, to ensuring coastal access, to preserving our farm and forest land through Oregon’s land use system, we have literally shown the rest of the country how it ought to be done.

And with the help of many of you in this room, we will continue to make progress tackling global climate change this legislative session.

I have learned through my multiple decades in public service that change takes time and is often done incrementally. I am extremely grateful for the work that my predecessors did to lay an incredibly strong foundation.

Just twelve years ago, it’s pretty amazing actually, Gov. Ted Kulongoski laid the groundwork to create a renewable portfolio standard and set a cap on carbon emissions.

Since I became governor, we have been able to build on that work by first passing and implementing a low carbon fuel standard.  We followed that legislation by passing the nation's first coal to clean legislation, intentionally moving away from coal generated electricity by 2035 and doubling our renewable portfolio standard.

In 2017, I was pleased to sign into law our Transportation Package which will deliver public transit to communities throughout the state and invests in electric vehicle infrastructure and provides rebates to hardworking, struggling families.

But clearly this is not enough. We are not meeting the goals of the Kulongoski administration.

We are seeing the impacts of climate change on our communities, our economy and our culture and its impacts are immediate and devastating to people and our way of life. But none are harder hit than our underserved communities, our communities of color, our Tribes, and our rural communities.

In 2017 I-84 was shut down in the gorge for four weeks following the Eagle Creek Fire.

This past summer, the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon was devastated by smoke for over six weeks.

Currently ninety percent of the state is in drought.  And its only February.

Our Oregon Tribes have to go further and higher to gather first foods.

And 2018 is the warmest year on Oregon record since 1895.

We have to tackle these issues with urgency and in a way that doesn’t exacerbate economic disparities for our underserved communities.

This past fall, I outlined my climate and clean energy agenda for Oregon. It reflects my priorities in the following areas: 

          #1. Expanding electric vehicle infrastructure and incentives to support at least 50,000 electric vehicles on Oregon roads by 2020; and progress toward the goal that all
                passenger vehicle sales will be electric by 2050.  

          #2. Decarbonizing our electricity system through the transition to more renewable resources, greater energy efficiency, grid modernization, and regionalization of energy

          #3. Enhancing the capacities of our natural and working lands to sequester and store carbon and adapt to climate change.

The centerpiece of the strategy, however, is my goal for Oregon to adopt a well-designed market-based cap-and-invest program to achieve our state climate emissions reduction goals.

We have a very significant opportunity in front of us right now in Oregon.

Oregon would be the 2nd state in the US to enact an economy-wide cap-and-invest program.

The current administration in DC is rolling back environmental protections,

To my count now 53.

Here in Oregon, we’re leading the way forward.

Tackling climate change is one of Oregon’s greatest economic opportunities.

Global investment in clean energy exceeded $330 billion last year.

I want to attract more of that investment here to Oregon. A cap-and-invest program will position Oregon on the leading edge of these fast changing and competitive energy markets.

The program can achieve our state emission goals at least cost by aligning market incentives to drive greater efficiency and investment in low-carbon technologies and land use practices in Oregon.
We know the world’s economies are rapidly transitioning away from fossil fuels.

Seventy jurisdictions worldwide have carbon pricing programs implemented or scheduled, representing 20% of global emissions. This list includes eleven U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, China, and Europe.  The total value of the carbon priced under these initiatives exceeds $81 billion.
Oregon can join the vanguard of jurisdictions building long-term competitiveness, creating good jobs and improving access to affordable energy, or it can risk falling behind.

We have already seen the benefits of clean energy investment all across the state.

More than 50,000 people work in energy efficiency, clean fuels and clean power generation in Oregon.
More than half of clean energy jobs are found outside of the Portland metro region.
And 36 Oregon counties employ workers in clean energy.

Eleven thousand Oregonians work in rural energy.

More than 130 wind and solar companies call Oregon home. Like Vestas.

In addition, well paid jobs in the clean energy sector significantly bolster a region’s economy, by supporting other local businesses and the jobs those businesses support.

This is why it is critically important that Oregon pass the proposed clean energy jobs bill this session and continue to make progress on our other clean energy priorities.

And we must do so in a way that is equitable and invests in the communities and sectors that are most impacted by climate change.   Our rural communities, our low income communities, our Tribes, and our communities of color and our tourism and natural resource based industries.

Future generations here in Oregon, and across the US, deserve us to not just think about their future, but to fight to protect it.

That’s why I’m excited to sign HB 2020 into law later this year.