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Oregon Climate Change Legislation Becomes Law

On August 7, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed landmark climate change legislation to reduce carbon emissions, address the threats of global climate change and pave the way for more development of renewable energy.

The new law, House Bill 3543 (HB 3543), sets ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon and establishes a comprehensive statewide effort to address climate change and its associated impacts.

HB 3543 mandates a reduction in Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and to 75 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The law does not create any additional regulatory authority for state agencies.

HB 3543 also creates the Oregon Global Warming Commission, which will recommend ways to achieve the emission reduction goals and ways for Oregon to prepare for the effects of global warming. As part of its task, the Commission will examine the suitability of a multi-state carbon cap-and-trade system and other market-based mechanisms for achieving the emission reduction goals.

The Commission will also monitor the economic, environmental, health, and social impacts of global warming and will report biennially on Oregon’s progress toward the emission reduction goals. The Commission is also charged with increasing Oregonians’ awareness of the scientific aspects and economic impacts of global warming.

The Commission will be composed of 11 voting members appointed by the Governor, and 14 ex-officio nonvoting members representing various state agencies and the Oregon legislature. The voting members will have significant experience in the areas of manufacturing, energy, transportation, forestry, agriculture, and environmental policy.

The legislation also creates the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute within the state’s Department of Higher Education. The Institute will be administered by Oregon State University and will facilitate climate change research, serve as a clearinghouse for climate change information, provide technical assistance to local governments, and support the Global Warming Commission.