Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but despite having been scheduled for a work session today, SB 1007 did not get passed out of the Senate Environment & Natural Resources Committee. This means that Sen. Arnie Roblan was not convinced to vote for it, which should be a surprise to no one. So…
Oregon SB 1007, the companion Climate Test bill to HB 3343, is now officially scheduled for a hearing and possible work session in front of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. The public hearing will be held on Wednesday April 12 at 3PM in Hearing Room C. This is in addition to the public…
Oregon HB 3343, the Climate Test bill, is now officially scheduled for a hearing in front of the House Energy & Environment Committee. The public hearing will be held on Monday, 10 April at 3PM in Hearing Room D. Please do consider attending, if possible. Equally helpful would be to submit written testimony in favor.…
WHY WE NEED A CLIMATE TEST IN OREGON
The current permitting process for fossil fuel infrastructure projects fails to adequately account for climate impacts. We need new standards for analyzing the impacts of such projects if we hope to limit global temperature rise.
Oregon is part of the Thin Green Line
We Oregonians love our state for its clean rivers, breathable air, abundant wildlife, and vibrant communities. Our culture values sustainability and good stewardship of the land and water – as well as making smart financial investments in our future.
Unfortunately, the Pacific Northwest stands squarely between Asian energy markets and large fossil fuel deposits in the interior of North America. In order to reach these markets, energy companies have attempted to build a range of large fossil fuel infrastructure projects in Oregon and other PNW states. Between 2009 and 2014, at least four new facilities were proposed whose sum total of fuel CO2 emissions, when burned, would equal 69.1 million metric tons per year. In contrast, the Oregon DEQ estimates that the sum total of CO2 emissions generated by the entire state of Oregon in 2014 amounted to approximately 60.0 million metric tons per year.
Oregon’s Current Regulatory Framework
Each infrastructure proposal has been subjected to a patchwork of regulations by a number of different jurisdictions, none of which take climate change considerations into account. An Oregon Climate Test is needed to ensure these considerations based on best available science are at the heart of decision-making on future fossil fuel infrastructure project proposals.
A Climate Test would require that qualifying fossil fuel infrastructure project proposals be subject to an environmental impact statement (EIS) with full lifecycle accounting of a project’s greenhouse gas emissions, coupled with an economic analysis that will show whether a project is viable in a world where climate goals are met.
First and foremost, Oregon’s energy policy must align with climate science. The Climate Test will use the latest climate science to evaluate major fossil fuel infrastructure projects proposed in Oregon, in light of the globally agreed goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 ̊C of the Paris Climate Accord.
Oregon communities deserve realistic job projections
Equally as important, Oregon’s energy policy must support the economic health and vitality of Oregon communities. The Climate Test will use the latest global energy market models constructed for a climate safe scenario to determine if a proposed fossil fuel infrastructure project is actually economically viable in such a scenario. Each application of the regulation would serve as a project-specific economic analysis. The economic analysis would ensure that the proposed infrastructure would not cost the community economically more than it contributes, should it become a “stranded asset” in a world of rapidly changing global energy policy and fossil fuel economics.
To date, environmental assessments evaluate the impact of new projects in a business as usual or “reference case” energy scenario that is consistent with 4 ̊C to 6 ̊C of warming. This means that our most important energy supply and demand projections are assuming continued failure to achieve internationally agreed climate goals. However, if the United States expects to achieve these goals, and Oregon to play its part in doing so, we must aim for success – and must measure policies and investment opportunities against a path that leads to climate safety.
The Paris Agreement set a goal – limit global warming to 2 degree C or less
In late 2015, the United Nations Paris Agreement, with the United States as a signatory, set an ambition to limit global warming to well below 2 ̊C and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 ̊C. In the rapidly changing global policy context, decision-makers in ￼￼￼￼￼Oregon do not currently have the information or analytical tools to properly evaluate whether a given fossil fuel infrastructure proposal is appropriate in a global market that is transitioning to lower carbon emissions consistent with the Paris Agreement. The low-carbon transition affirmed in the Paris Agreement will dramatically shift both national and global energy markets away from business as usual scenarios. The implications of that transition will be of great relevance to Oregonians faced with proposals from the fossil fuel industry to construct large export infrastructure projects in their communities.
Fossil fuels will be less profitable as the world acts to limit global warming
In an international market consistent with the Paris climate commitments, demand for fossil fuels will peak in the near future and decline, resulting in progressively weaker prices for coal, oil and natural gas. Incorporating an assessment of global energy markets in a climate safe scenario will allow policymakers to consider project and permit decisions in scenarios consistent with success in meeting international climate objectives, and help them avoid public and private assets being economically threatened by the global transition away from fossil fuels.
A rigorous Oregon Climate Test will provide Oregon agencies with the tools to more accurately assess the economic and environmental impacts of major project and permit decisions. As policymakers take action to incorporate a climate test into their long-term decision making process, the credibility of that test will rest on its adherence to the following broad principles:
- Energy decisions must be guided by climate science.
- Decision-makers must develop and consider models that are consistent with a global economic transition away from high-carbon fossil fuels. Environmental review processes must assess the need for projects and policies in the context of global energy supply and demand scenarios consistent with international climate goals.
- Environmental review processes must assess a project or policy’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Tell our leaders in Salem to pass the Climate Test bill!
A Climate Test is a powerful, efficient and inexpensive tool that would ensure that climate and economic considerations – based on best available science – are the foundation of decision- making on fossil fuel infrastructure projects. By adopting a Climate Test, Oregon would continue its global leadership role in climate policy, working towards a safe and just future for all Oregonians and for all of our fellow global citizens.