REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Oregon Environmental Protection Act – HB 2250 Bill Signing
Friday, May 24, 2019
Thank you to:
● Paige Spence, with the Oregon League of Conservation Voters
● Jana Gastellum, with the Oregon Environmental Council
● Richard Whitman, with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
We are here today to sign HB 2250, which will preserve the beauty and bounty of Oregon for future generations.
Oregon has a long tradition of being on the forefront of environmental stewardship. It all began 56 years ago when a television reporter named Tom McCall stood in front of this very river and hosted a documentary called “Pollution in Paradise.” With images of dying fish and bubbling water, he exposed the businesses that were dumping thousands of gallons of toxic waste into the Willamette.
People were moved by his words and passion, and also by what was happening to the Willamette River. A host of environmental regulations were ushered in and polluters were put on notice. Governor Tom McCall led these efforts before much of the rest of the country took similar actions.
Now, we take the next step in preserving the beauty and bounty of Oregon for future generations, cementing our 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.
And states are taking a stand.
When I first announced this legislation last fall, the Trump Administration had reversed course on 46 landmark environmental regulations. Now, 8 months later, it’s 61.
They have eliminated the Clean Power Plan and set our national energy policy backwards.
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.
This week, we learned that the EPA plans to change the way it calculates health risks from air pollution. In order to pave the way for coal mines and oil wells to continue to operate, and to be built on public lands.
This is a travesty, but it stops here.
Today, we are enshrining into law the standards of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. And, along with many other states, we can send a signal that rolling back federal environmental laws only creates uncertainty for business.
We are not alone. Colorado. New Mexico. California. New York. All are pushing forward on rules and policies to preserve their land and protect the health of their people, since we clearly can’t rely on the EPA.
As states working together, we can take a leadership role in preventing the erosion of core laws that protect our environment.
This bill is an insurance policy for our children. With this act, they will know that Oregon is not backsliding on its environmental commitment.