Happy Earth Day we stop to reflect on all the good work going into the Environmental Justice Movement world wide!

All of Oregon’s Communities will Benefit from the Oregon Climate Action Plan

On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Eugene/Springfield NAACP and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters are coming together to celebrate Governor Brown’s historic executive order for climate action. Although it seems like a lifetime ago, it was just last month that Governor Brown signed the Oregon Climate Action Plan into law as she was surrounded by youth climate activists from communities throughout the state, who looked on with faces full of hope and excitement for a greener future for all of those who call Oregon home. 

As we began to celebrate this victory, the coronavirus outbreak brought Oregon to a sudden halt. We have since reshaped our lives, working diligently to distance ourselves and keep each other healthy during the pandemic. We’re all in this together, and we’re looking forward to the day when social distancing is no longer necessary. Now more than ever we need quick and sustainable solutions to address the current crisis at hand, and the Oregon Climate Action Plan will answer that call. 

OLCV and the Eugene/ Springfield NAACP are thrilled with the Oregon Climate Action Plan’s guidelines for transitioning our state to clean energy and reducing carbon emissions. Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by air pollution and the impacts of climate change, and the Oregon Climate Action Plan has developed greenhouse gas reduction standards with equity as a top priority. A higher clean fuels standard will help reduce air pollution from automobiles, including sulfur, arsenic, and mercury pollution, reducing rates of asthma, heart disease, and cancer in our communities. Clean air should be a right for all people, regardless of income or background, and the Oregon Climate Action Plan will help us take steps in the right direction. 

Additionally, the Oregon Climate Action Plan requires higher standards for energy efficiency in new buildings. This, along with a transition to 100% clean energy for all public utilities, will help reduce electricity costs for families and small businesses. In the future, Oregon’s buildings will run on wind, solar, and small-hydro power, instead of coal and natural gas. Not only will this reduce energy costs for Oregon families and improve energy security, it will significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.

Many Oregonians, especially those who live in low-income communities, communities of color, and rural communities do not have easy access to public transportation. The Oregon Climate Action Plan calls for a transition to a fully electric fleet of buses and trains while ensuring the transportation needs of low-income and underserved communities are met. The transition to more efficient and accessible public transportation will provide Oregonians a sustainable and energy efficient way to travel. It will also identify ways to make public transportation more accessible and equally benefit all communities. No more walking in unsafe areas or relying on gasoline to get to work. 

The Oregon Climate Action Plan will make sure that all of our communities can adjust to a changing world, in which wildfires are more common, droughts are more severe, coastal towns are routinely flooded, and heatwaves have become our regular summer temperatures. And it will also work to prevent the worst of these effects from ever happening. By doing our part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we’ll be setting an example for other states, and once again leading the way on climate action.

So, although many Earth Day plans have changed due to social distancing, we still have something to celebrate here in Oregon. Thanks to the decades of advocacy by environmental and social justice groups—all those years of rallying, and marching, and attending public hearings, and writing to legislators—and thanks to Governor Brown, who listened to the voices of Oregonians, we have achieved one of the biggest environmental plans of action in Oregon’s history. We hope you’ll join us in taking a moment to enjoy what we’ve accomplished, and continue to hold our elected officials accountable in making a just and sustainable transition to a greener future for all Oregonians. 

Haley Case Scott and
Eric Richardson, Executive Director of the Eugene/Springfield National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

Doug Moore, Executive Director of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters