24 Hours of Reality : Chapter special presentation

Join former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and other members of the Southwestern Oregon Chapter of The Climate Reality Project as we talk climate in Oregon and globally. Learn more about the science and how climate will effect drought, fires, and fairness for all. The presentation will also include solutions that are happening right now and in development.

Registration is now closed. Thank you to all who attended!

#24HoursOfReality #JoinTheCountdown Find the event on Facebook.

FAQ: The Oregon Climate Action Plan: What it is and What to do

By Mike Green

What is the Oregon Climate Action Plan?

The Oregon Climate Action Plan, or OCAP, is a comprehensive plan to dramatically reduce climate pollution and protect Oregon’s air and water by systematically increasing the adoption of clean, renewable approaches in transportation, businesses, and buildings. The long-term plan will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly but will also improve health, save money, and create jobs.

Alvord Desert, Oregon Photo by Elle Storset

What’s new about it?

This plan, authorized by Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order 20-04 in March 2020, is the most comprehensive and aggressive approach in our state’s history to address the crisis of climate change. You can read the executive order here and follow updates from Governor Brown here.

How comprehensive is the plan?

OCAP is a broad and systematic approach to foster a clean economy, make fuels cleaner, and make buildings more energy-efficient. For example:

  • Clean Economy: OCAP requires corporate polluters to reduce pollution over time by strengthening the existing pollution-reduction targets and requiring large polluters, by law, to reduce emissions. Large polluters will be required to lower climate pollution levels 45% below 1990 levels by 2035, and at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
  • Clean Fuels: OCAP extends the state’s successful four-year-old Clean Fuels Program, which creates jobs and lowers pollution from fuels by making cleaner options available. The program’s previous goal was to reduce pollution by 10% by 2025. The added goal, to reduce pollution 25% by 2035, is the most ambitious goal for clean fuels in the nation.
  • Clean Buildings: OCAP requires that new homes and buildings in Oregon be able, by 2030, to produce as much clean energy as they use and to maximize energy efficiency. By broadly applying technologies already in use today, homes and buildings will waste less energy with more efficient heating, cooling, and lighting.

The COVID pandemic and the large-scale movement for racial justice have put a spotlight on the many struggles of Oregonians. How does OCAP help disadvantage populations and communities?

The plan has an intense focus on communities of color and lower-income communities who are more likely to live and work closest to the major pollution sources and thus be harmed most by climate change. For example, OCAP requires state agencies to consult with impacted communities and the Environmental Justice Task Force on climate actions. The plan also prioritizes actions that help impacted communities adapt to climate change and calls for the creation of an interagency work group to address climate harms to impacted communities.

Is there any progress yet?

Yes. In May 2020, twelve state agencies submitted their plans to carry out the Governor’s Executive Order establishing the plan. Agencies with specific directives—ranging from the Department of Environment Quality to the state’s departments of Energy and Transportation—provided detailed plans to achieve major climate progress in Oregon. These include concrete plans for increasing transportation electrification, using cleaner fuels to replace petroleum, installing more infrastructure for clean energy generation and usage, building cleaner and more energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings, reducing food waste, reducing methane emissions from landfills, and mandating better land use planning. You can read the agencies’ detailed plans here

What comes next?

Much is yet to come from both state agencies and advocacy groups across Oregon. For example, by mid-September the Building Codes Division will outline options for achieving the 2030 energy efficiency goal over the next three cycles of updating the state building code. And many of the state’s administrative processes are making individual directives within the governor’s order a reality. In addition, advocacy groups within the Renew Oregon coalition have submitted letters to many agencies to inform their plans, and those groups are exploring how to coordinate their activities and collaborate with the OCAP goals in mind.

What can we do as Oregonians and as Climate Reality Project members to make OCAP successful—and accelerate its gains?

First, we should work to do everything we can as individuals to set an example and reduce our own emissions and overall carbon footprint, by following the advice of Oregon groups like reneworegon.org and international groups like The Climate Reality Project. Then we should require the companies we buy from to meet or exceed their requirements under OCAP—or do business with companies that do. And we should make sure we VOTE to elect or re-elect the officials who will lead with the integrity and urgency that the climate crisis demands. For more information see the Turn Out for Tomorrow initiative of the Climate Reality Project and follow our Oregon legislative activity here.  

Rulemaking 101: the power of the public voice and the rulemaking process in Oregon.

Rulemaking is an essential part of lawmaking. When the Oregon State Legislature passes a law, that is just the beginning. The law is basically a decree. A new law declares what lawmakers have decided to do, but it says very little about how everyone will need to do it. The how part is called the rulemaking process. It is also the part where the voice of the public is tremendously important.

The voices of Oregon citizens are essential to ensuring the rulemaking process. But because the rulemaking process can sometimes be complex, people who care about issues like climate change do not always know how to take part. To help with that, we put together a ‘Rulemaking 101’ video to help clarify the process.

This video is a conversation featuring Bill Bradbury, former Oregon Secretary of State, and Hogan Sherrow, founder and president of ROCPAC (Rural Oregon Climate Political Action Committee). Questions addressed include ‘what is a rule?’ Answers deal with the examples of recent climate laws, including the new Executive Order (the Oregon Climate Action Plan) passed by the Governor in March 2020.

Click the video as Bill Bradbury and Hogan Sherrow walk us through Rulemaking 101: the power of the public voice and the rulemaking process in Oregon.

We hope you enjoyed the video! To learn more, check out these articles : Rulemaking: The Basics. Check back for new posts, we will be posting also information about public comment periods, as well as the strength building in coalitions.

Thank you for visiting the Southwestern Oregon Chapter of The Climate Reality Project. Click to learn more about our chapter, and more about The Climate Reality Project. If you are interested in joining our chapter, email us and/or apply.

Rulemaking, the Basics

We know that human industry can be extremely destructive to the environment. And we also know that risks require rules. That’s where laws and public policy comes in. This article is a very basic rundown of what rulemaking is, and how rules become public policy. (To learn more about rulemaking in Oregon, see our post and video Rulemaking 101.)

Rules and Law-Making

Rulemaking is an essential part of the process of lawmaking.

Humans enact laws to address environmental problems such as air pollution, water contamination and climate change. A law can come from the legislature, or as an executive order. The passing of a law or the signing of an executive order is only the first step for a brand new law. The very next thing that needs to happen with a new law is to figure out how that new law will be put into effect.

A new law rarely includes specifics about how the law will be enacted. A new law is mostly a directive about what needs to be done in general. So, a law might decree that we ‘reduce fossil fuel emissions to zero.’ Okay, great start! Next, tho, for a new law to actually work, we have to figure out how we are going to do it: ‘how do we reduce fossil fuel emissions to zero?’

Rules and State Agencies

When it comes to how, a new law moves from the legislators to the state agencies, agencies such as DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) or ODOT (Department of transportation). Depending on how comprehensive a new law is, one or many state agencies might be involved. The agencies are staffed with experts who know the territory they are being asked to deal with. It is the role of the state agencies and state experts to figure out how a law will be carried out. They will need to figure out new rules for how things will be done.

Rules and Environmental Protection

Environmental law has a lot of rules because many things in our everyday industrial world from our cellphones to our cars to the rain run-off from our roof have chemicals, heavy metals, and other components that can impact our environment. Some rules specify how old cellphones are disposed of, or what types of fuel can be used in cars. These rules change if the law changes. The idea with environmental laws is to protect public and planetary health. It doesn’t always play out this way, however, so that is why citizen participation is important.

Draft Rules and Public Comment

So. A new law is written and put into effect. This new law goes to the agencies and their experts. And the experts in these agencies work on figuring how the new law can and should be implemented. They need to get into the specific details as to what new rules the new law requires.

Their first effort in writing new rules is a draft. Nothing yet is set in stone. The agencies draft what they believe the new rules could/should be. Then, and this next part is really important; then this draft goes to the public for comment.

Public Comment Periods

Agencies not only draft new rules, they also set up a calendar with times, dates, and places set out for the public to come and address the proposed rules. Public comment is the chance for everyday people and all kinds of experts outside the agency to speak up and give their take on whether or not the draft rules that are being proposed are a good idea. Are the rules effective? Will any proposed rules be too onerous? Or harmful? Do the proposed rules go far enough to actually address the problem they are designed to address?

You can usually find the calendar and current drafts on the agency web pages. Comment periods are scheduled to offer opportunities for the public to give testimony in person, and/or via written comments.

How extensive a comment period is depends on the complexity of the proposed new rules, and the potential impart of those rules. With proposed environmental rules, there can be a lot of energy spent in arguing. There are many interested parties, each with something to gain or lose. How many jobs might the project provide? How much water might be used? How much of that water can be contaminated before all the fish die? Does it really matter if a little arsenic gets in there. Who gets to decide?

With so much at stake, agencies that draft environmental rules often hold multiple comment periods across the state. This is to ensure the public–those who are impacted by what is decided–and businesses–who often are the ones facing regulation–have a chance to speak to the draft.

Why Public Participation Matters

Lawmakers and agency experts don’t and can’t know everything. Public participation is a really important part of the process because the public is like a whole big group of experts who can offer insight into everything from air quality impacts on children, to the cares of teachers, students, and grandparents for the future they envision for their communities and their state.

There are many things that agency members may not know to consider prior to public comment. For example, when regulating, say, the transportation of crude oil by train, agency experts might not know how inadequate last-century train technologies is for transporting highly flammable materials. They may know that air quality is important, but they might not know how important. They may not see the consequences of an inevitable accident the same way members of a community might who actually face that danger near their schools and homes. Lawmakers and agency folks may have seen the beautiful brochures from business interests, without realizing that many, many people want nothing to do with a proposal no matter how slick the trifolds.

Public input is important to lawmakers and state agencies. Public input is essential to the making of good rules.

Rulemaking and Public Policy

A new law goes to the state agencies. The state agencies draft proposed rules so that it is clear how the law will be put into effect. The state agencies hold public comment periods where businesses, experts, and the public can offer their feedback on those draft rules. Based on all of that, the state agencies recommends a final draft of rules, which at some point are codified into public policy. This policy will govern how the law plays out. How much arsenic will get into the water? The policies created in the rulemaking process will be the standard set, and the standard to be met.

For a great conversation about rulemaking and public comment, see our video Rulemaking 101.

Rulemaking is an essential part of lawmaking. This video is a conversation featuring Bill Bradbury, former Oregon Secretary of State, and Hogan Sherrow, founder and president of ROCPAC (Rural Oregon Climate Political Action Committee) as they walk us through what happens after a law is signed, and the months or years long process that is called rulemaking. So, what is rulemaking? And why is it important that citizens pay attention and speak up during this process? Find out ‘what is a rule?’ Learn using examples of recent climate and environmental laws, including the new executive order (the Oregon Climate Action Plan) signed by Governor Kate Brown in March 2020.

Thank you for visiting the Southwestern Oregon Chapter of The Climate Reality Project. Click to learn more about our chapter, and more about The Climate Reality Project. If you are interested in joining our chapter, email us and/or apply.

The more you know…Explore the links and learn more. A lot more.

What exactly IS climate change? Explore the links to learn more. A lot more.

Greenhouse gasses are a natural part of our planetary system. But humans are dumping 152 million tons of global warming pollution into our atmosphere every year–enough to destabilize climate and planetary systems. The effect is catastrophic and our time to deal with it is running out.

Keep scrolling for a lot of links. Because climate change impacts everything, there is a lot to learn. Start where you are. Learn a little. Learn a little more. Because the more you know…

climate change courses

This one. Climate Change: the Science and Global Impact. It’s free online through Edx.org, but for a small fee you can earn a certificate. It is taught by Michael Mann Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State University. It’s a big step in terms of jumping in, so if you are not quite ready keep scrolling for other options. There are also other climate change courses available at Edx.org

Experts on Video

Global Weirding by climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. Her blog and youtube channel are absolutely chock full of information, delivered in a digestible way. Among her many videos, this answers a question that comes up a lot, what is the difference between climate and weather? Also, check out her TED talk, Let’s Talk About It.

TedTALKs have for decades now been leading the conversation on the human conversation and especially the human imperatives. They have curated a section on Climate Change, but what may frustrate you is how long we have been having this conversation with so little headway! Climate Reality Project founder Al Gore has offered three TED talks, most recently June 2020. The appear here in order of most current. This final of the three, from 2008, seems already a lifetime ago. The information in the 2008 talk is dated, but still relevant.

Trusted Institutions & Reports

The Big Reports are the IPCC, NA4, COP26, SOCCR2, and, for Oregon, the OCCRI reports. These are the gold standard for statistics and analysis. Especially look to the NA4 and Oregon OCCRI, those are very accessible. Ideally, people and governments use the information gathered into these reports to make informed international commitments to keep our earth habitable, such as the Paris Agreement.

The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is a production of global researchers and scientists working with the United Nations. The document is broken into many reports, you can find the list on the reports page.

To highlight just a few of the reports, see this list:

  1. Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate which include sections on:
    1. Changing Ocean, Marine Ecosystems, and Dependent Communities and
    2. Sea Level Rise and Implications for Low-Lying Islands, Coasts and Communities.
  2. Climate change on Land, which includes a section on:
    1. Land Degradation and
    2. Food Security.

The NA4, The Fourth National Climate Assessment focuses on the United States. This report was completed in 2018, with the Climate Science Special Report completed in 2017. These comprehensive assessments are also made up of reports. The Climate Science Special Report is very science-y but awesome. If you are up to it, dig in! The 2017 reports are all listed here. The 2018 Climate Assessment reports are also comprehensive but easier to read through. You have to access them using the dropdown menu on the top bar, ‘chapters.’

Find reports including these:

  1. Water
  2. Human Health
  3. Forests
  4. The Regional Northwest

COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference/Summit that brings leaders from around the world together to address climate Change. While this isn’t a report per se, the conference generates a tremendous amount of material. More than you can sift through. Some links:

  1. COP26 Climate Summit home page.
  2. UN Climate Change home page.
  3. United Nations News.

SOCCR2, the Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report, which is produced by an interagency working group incorporating North American experts in the US, Mexico, and Canada. This is again a more science-y document, so prepare when you read through it. To access specific topics, look to the dropdown menu from the Chapters tab on the top menu bar.

Some sample report chapters from this report:

  1. Observations of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Methane.
  2. Future of the North American Carbon Cycle, including subsections on:
    1. future land,’
    2. future ocean,’
    3. future freshwater.’
  3. Energy Systems.
  4. Agriculture.

What is the Carbon Cycle? Check out this video from the World Meteorological Organization. There is a lot more chemistry to learn if you are inclined.

OCCRI, the Fourth Oregon Climate Assessment Report from the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, published in 2019. Most of what is included is the 2018 NA4 report for the Northwest. But there is also a preceding chapter with basic summaries for Oregon. (Here’s the full report PDF.)

The Paris Agreement. From the tremendous energy of governments, policy makers, economists, and scientists world wide has come a agreement of the highest imperative–literally a road map to how to stabilize the climate and give future (and living) generations a chance. The Paris Agreement must be ratified THIS YEAR and is a big push for The Climate Reality Project and many other climate concerned people and organizations. So far 189 out of 197 parties have ratified the agreement. Learn more about the Paris Agreement.

Listen to this TED talk by Tom Rivett-Carnac, one of the architects of the Paris Agreement with Christiana Figueres. They are also co-authors of The Future We Choose, and have a podcast, Global Optimism.

The US became a signatory to the agreement by Executive Order under President Obama. The Trump Administration is now in the process of withdrawing US support.

Former Vice President Al Gore released a statement and tweeted encouragement to those who are committed the Paris Agreement as a vital step toward a livable planet.

Important! Register to vote. Your voice is important in the global efforts agreed to in The Paris Agreement, and more.

news and blog sites

There are a lot of excellent resources out there from media and institutions addressing climate change. These are but a very few:

National Geographic (paywall), The Guardian, New York Times (paywall), NOAA Climate, Union of Concerned Scientists Climate Impacts and Climate Science and a 2019 Oregon Climate Factsheet (pdf), DeSmog, Yale Climate Communications, Oregon Public Broadcasting on climate change, US Forest service on Climate Change, and so many more.