Quick! You have seven minutes to tell Oregon legislators everything they need to know about stopping climate pollution. . .  GO! That was my task last week when testifying at an Oregon Senate informational hearing about two bills that would stop the free lunch for climate polluters in Oregon—see the video of my testimony below.

Senate Bill 965 is a cap-and-dividend bill that would give all the revenue back to Oregon taxpayers, and House Bill 3470 is a cap-and-delegate bill that would put the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in charge of limiting pollution. There was a full panel of testimony, including Julia Olsen from Our Children’s Trust making a compelling case for Oregon to act on climate now, and Phil Harding from Oregon State University giving an inspiring perspective on technological innovation. I used my time to make the following points:

  • Oregon is not alone. By the end of next year, one quarter of all the greenhouse gas pollution in the world will have a price tag attached.
  • Making polluters pay will not hurt the economy. Experience from other states and provinces that have been pricing carbon for years, as well as modeling from Portland State University indicates that Oregon could grow jobs and wages by pricing pollution. By phasing out pollution, California has attracted billions of dollars of cleantech investment into the state. Oregon could do the same.
  • Oregonians don’t want to wait. There is strong support for stopping pollution and transitioning to clean energy. Other jurisdictions are already stopping pollution and they are reaping the benefits in the form of advancing their clean economy and improving public health and quality of life.
  • There is no need to wait for federal action. In fact, Oregon could get a two-for-one—staying on the cutting edge of the clean energy economy, and also complying with new federal Clean Power Rule requirements—by passing a bill.
  • The main point of these bills is to stop the free lunch for fossil fuels. But there are lots of good options for what to do with the revenue:
    • Giving a climate dividend to every Oregonian, as SB 965 would do, would leave two-thirds of Oregon households with more money in their pockets than they have now.
    • Investing in energy efficiency saves money and creates jobs: energy efficiency is the cheapest electricity we can buy, and it creates two to three times as many jobs as spending the money on fossil fuels, And those jobs are all local, whereas many fossil fuel jobs are out of Oregon.
    • More low-pollution mobility options—such as transit, better land use planning, safe walking and biking infrastructure—cut pollution and improve quality of life.

Oregon can choose to be one of the growing number of places in the world that squeezes out pollution and opens the door to clean energy. Or it can keep the door shut by continuing to give pollution a free ride. Hopefully the hearing helped arm Oregon legislators with the information they need to move forward.