House call enivronmental legislative wrap-up
At the 1908 National Governor's Conference in Washington DC, Theodore Roosevelt - my favorite president - said to the assembled state executives that the issue of conservation 'is the chief material question that confronts us, second only - and second always - to the great fundamental questions of morality.'
Well said, of course. And while Oregon's 2007 legislature largely avoided issues of morality, we did have the courage to tackle meaningful environmental and conservation reform. During the session we addressed everything from recycling to renewable energy, biofuels to water quality.
Some of our larger efforts include:
Senate Bill 838, probably considered the session's biggest success. This bill requires that 25 percent of Oregon's new electricity needs be generated from renewable resources by 2025. SB 838 will promote wind, solar, hydro and wave energy. All abundant in Oregon, and all designed to promote Oregon-based businesses and environmental entrepreneurism.
Recycling bills were also prominent. SB 707 will expand Oregon's bottle bill to include water bottles, crucial when you consider that upwards of 100 million plastic bottles are going into Oregon landfills every year. HB 2626 sets a similar standard for electronic waste, critical for control of mercury, lead, and other hard-waste toxins. Now when Oregonians need to dispose of old computers and TVs, they'll have a convenient place to go - free of charge.
Promotion of biofuels was accomplished via HB 2210. This bill requires that certain percentages of most vehicle fuels sold in Oregon contain a biofuel component. The bill provides incentives for the production and processing of Oregon grown biofuel feedstock and also provides incentives for Oregon consumers who use higher blends of biofuels for cars, trucks and home heating. The benefits of HB 2210 include promotion of Oregon agricultural and forest industries, cleaner air and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and reduced dependence on foreign oil.
There were other advancements in common sense conservation legislation. Some of these include promotion of solar technologies; a new toxic reduction strategy to help the Willamette River; and a clean diesel initiative to help retrofit or replace old, polluting diesel engines in school busses and heavy equipment.
Rep. Ben Cannon and I also introduced legislation for a carbon cap-and-trade program. This type of system is successfully being used in various places to promote industrial modernization and greenhouse gas reduction through market-based trading incentives. This would be a big step for Oregon and will require extensive dialog and cooperation. It will be a priority next session.
In short, the 2007 Oregon legislature made considerable gains in conservation policy but avoided the over-reach which has hamstrung past efforts. Legislation in this arena was largely undertaken in a solution oriented, bi-partisan manner. Our charge was simple: sound conservation policy that also promoted Oregon jobs and innovation. I am proud of our accomplishments this year. And I think Roosevelt would have been proud of us, too!
Rep. Scott Bruun represents West Linn and Tualatin District WHAT