Climate action is one of those issues about which it is said that it is often faster to move locally than on a statewide or national scale.
Also, the more organized you are locally, the better equipped you are to influence matters elsewhere.
The Oregon Legislature is considering HB 2020, a carbon reduction bill, and Corvallis hopes to play a role. The City Legislative Committee has asked the Corvallis Climate Action Advisory Board to make recommendations to the City Council on HB 2020, and the board held a one-hour special meeting Monday to discuss the issue.
The board exists to implement the city’s climate action plan, which was developed by a community-led task force. Thus, Corvallis already has an infrastructure in place to analyze and respond.
“People have been working on this for 10 years,” said Annette Mills, the board’s project manager and facilitator for the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition. “It’s been a long time coming.”
“We need to mobilize our networks,” said board member Asher Miller of the Corvallis-based Post Carbon Institute. “It’s a big deal if this bill passes.”
Board members discussed which items in the bill should be non-negotiable, what compromises might be acceptable and which items need strengthening.
Board members agreed that the bill’s interim greenhouse gas emissions target of a reduction to 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2035 is critical. That’s because of Oregon’s current goal to get to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
“We need the interim target to keep folks from dragging their feet,” Mills said.
Another key element of the bill would not give firms planning to import energy into Oregon or build new fossil fuel infrastructure any extra time or “free allowances” to adjust to the program. New infrastructure includes the proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas terminal at Coos Bay that would be fed by a new pipeline.
Board members also are hoping that the legislation will find a way to reduce its impact on low-income communities.
Mills plans to organize all of the feedback from Monday’s meeting, share it with board members and forward recommendations to the City Legislative Committee by Thursday. The committee meets again at 4 p.m. Friday at City Hall, 501 SW Madison Ave.
It’s unclear what approach the City Council might ultimately take on the bill. The council could forward its thoughts to state Sen. Sara Gelser and state Rep. Dan Rayfield or perhaps pass a resolution in support of the legislation.
Acting is important, board members said, even if the bill that emerges is not perfect.
“The cost of not passing something is worse than that of passing something flawed,” said Brandon Trelstad, sustainability officer at Oregon State University. “We can always keep working on it to make it better.”