Oregon Executive Action—In the Face of Inaction

Last week, the state of Oregon made significant strides toward limiting its carbon footprint. Governor Kate Brown announced an executive action to provide $5 million “to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all emissions sources, including point sources, natural gas emissions, and transportation fuels” for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. This action comes as state legislators failed to reach a deal on a cap-and-trade bill earlier this month. Oregon Senate Republicans walked out of the Senate session to deny a necessary quorum for the legislation to consider. 

Governor Kate Brown (D) said in a press conference: 

“I have always been clear that a legislative solution was my preferred path to tackle the impacts of climate change for the resources it would bring to our rural communities and the flexibility it would provide for our businesses. However, I will not back down. In the coming days, I will be taking executive action to lower our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Governor Brown’s executive action set out the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2035, and then by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The state also will aim to lower pollution from fuels 25 percent by 2035.

Brown also detailed her goal with clean fuel:

“This is the most ambitious goal for clean fuels in the country, and it will substantially reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector, using a model proven to reduce pollution at a very minimal cost. At the same time, it will create new jobs in the biofuels sector and expand investment in transportation electrification.”

Even in the presence of non-cooperative state legislators, climate action is imperative that state and local governments should prioritize. Governor Brown did something significant by setting this precedence and deserves praise for taking decisive action.