Coalition grows to defend Oregon climate policy

Fifteen organizations join Crag clients against fuel industry attacks to state’s Climate Protection Program. 

last updated January 19, 2022 | Megan Gleason

On September 7, 2022, Crag filed a motion to intervene to defend Oregon’s landmark Climate Protection Program against legal attacks by the oil and gas industry. Crag filed the motion on behalf of our clients Beyond Toxics, Climate Solutions, Environmental Defense Fund, Oregon Business for Climate, and Oregon Environmental Council.

On January 4, 2023, we filed a brief responding to the fossil fuel industry’s arguments and defending the State’s authority to limit climate pollution. Then, one week later, fifteen organizations representing business, environmental justice, labor, intertribal, and public health organizations filed amicus “friend of the court” briefs pointing out that the state has an obligation to protect communities against the health and economic impacts of climate change and the immense benefits Oregon stands to gain by maintaining a strong Climate Protection Program. You can read the press release here.

What is the Climate Protection Program?

In December 2021, after an extensive 18-month rulemaking process, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) adopted the Climate Protection Program (CPP). The Climate Protection Program is intended to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while centering environmental justice communities who are disproportionately burdened by the effects of climate change and air contamination. Under the Climate Protection Program, gas utilities and oil companies are required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a safer level: a 50% reduction by 2035 and a 90% reduction by 2050. You can read more about the program here.

    The Climate Protection Program will also:

    • Improve public health and resiliency for Oregon communities most harmed by fossil fuels and climate impacts, saving billions of dollars annually in avoided health costs.
    • Enable investments in clean energy projects to support job creation, economic vitality, and cleaner, cheaper, healthier energy and transportation options in communities of color, Tribal, low-income, rural, coastal and other communities across the state.
    • Incentivize technological innovation and advancement that will benefit Oregon’s workers and consumers by transitioning to a clean energy economy.

    Why is the Climate Protection Plan important?

    In the face of federal climate inaction, it is important that states and local communities take action to combat the climate crisis. Crag has worked for many years at both the local and state level to help communities stop fossil fuel projects and support government plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and defending the Climate Protection Program is an important tool to create a “floor” of climate action the state must take to build upon in the future. The Oregon Climate Protection Program will both reduce emissions and prioritize the environmental justice communities which continue to bear the brunt of climate change and air pollution.

    “The Climate Protection Program is a necessary first step for Oregon to meet its climate goals. Defending the State’s authority to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is not only necessary to protect the Climate Protection Program, but also future climate policies.”

    Maura Fahey, Crag Managing Attorney

    Looking Ahead

    What’s happening next? The Court of Appeals is reviewing the reply briefs Crag, NRDC, and the State filed in early January 2023 and has not announced when it will decide on the case. Fortunately, during the court process, the Climate Protection Program is moving forward.  

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