Electrify Eugene - An Update
Eugene was the first city to galvanize the electrification movement in Oregon when our city council passed the state’s first ordinance to mandate electric-only in new residential construction last February. But during the council meeting on July 10th, council rescinded the ordinance in the face of a recently contested Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling from a fossil-fuel funded lawsuit challenging a similar ordinance passed in Berkeley. That case likely means our ordinance would be illegal if passed at the ballot next November. (The ordinance was referred to the ballot after NWN funded out-of-state signature gatherers to qualify for a ballot referendum to the tune of over $1M.)
To its credit, the council reaffirmed their strong commitment to building electrification and decarbonization by passing two motions the same evening: 1) directing city staff to bring a suite of opportunities to take action on climate and reduce city greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and 2) directing the city manager to return to the council for a discussion on updates in the Berkeley case, and to explore alternative legally feasible ways to reduce fossil fuel use in new construction next year.
Now that the ordinance is off of the November ballot, city staff and advocates can work unconstrained to engage the community and address the necessary clean energy transition that is funded by the Inflation Reduction Act.
"Eugene remains steadfast in its commitment to electrifying new homes and buildings. We will not back down. However, it is disheartening that this misguided court ruling compels our city to allocate additional resources towards crafting a new policy with the same outcome. We eagerly anticipate the reversal of the Ninth Circuit court decision, so that local governments retain all pathways to build smart from the start, cutting pollution and protecting health with climate-ready new construction,” said Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis.
There are always lessons to be learned by those who lead the way. Those who follow will avoid pitfalls, as our movement inexorably builds to electrify the grid with clean energy. We are more committed than ever. This fall we will be pushing for the transformational change we need and we will not take no for an answer. Plan to jump in. Let’s be fierce.
Read the Sierra Club press release on the ordinance withdrawal & commitment to future action here and Breach Collective’s analysis of the Berkeley case and background as it relates to Eugene.
Check out Mayor Vinis’ Guest Viewpoint in last week’s online Eugene Weekly. Stick to your guns, Mayor!
On Saturday, June 24, Oregon Just Transition Alliance, and the major statewide coalition members Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Climate Solutions, Oregon Environmental Council, Unite Oregon and Community Energy Project, and community members came together to witness the passing of historic climate justice legislation in Oregon, the Climate Resilience Package. This bill package has resulted in huge wins for frontline communities across Oregon who are most impacted by climate change, and we couldn’t have done it without your support:
As a result of your action, over 10 important bills passed this legislative session:
2023 Resilience Agenda recap
Primary bill endorsements
Housing Choices (HB 2001) ⇒ PASSED!
Many people in Oregon struggle to find a home they can afford in a neighborhood with the things they need to thrive, like good-paying jobs, green spaces, and walkable neighborhoods. The Affordable, Abundant Housing provisions in the bill will increase the number of affordable homes built in our state and make sure they are built in a way that will most benefit frontline communities, addressing the housing crisis today and for the long term.
Community Resilience Hubs (HB 2990) ⇒ PASSED! (as part of the Climate Resilience Package)
Funds community resilience hubs and networks across the state to provide access to resources for vulnerable populations during disasters.
Healthy Heating & Cooling for All (SB 868) ⇒ PASSED! (as part of the Climate Resilience Package)
Aligns our energy efficiency programs with our state climate goals, accelerates statewide heat pump deployment, and ramps up other energy efficiency efforts like weatherizing and retrofitting existing homes to save money and energy while increasing Oregonians’ resilience.
Build Smart from the Start (SB 869) ⇒ PASSED! (as part of the Climate Resilience Package)
Improves building codes for new construction, codifying Oregon’s base building code so that all new buildings are constructed to be more energy efficient and resilient from the start.
Building Performance Standard (SB 870) ⇒ PASSED! (as part of the Climate Resilience Package)
Improves the energy efficiency of large, energy-intensive commercial buildings across the state through the adoption of a Building Performance Standard and incentives.
Smart State Buildings (SB 871) ⇒ PASSED! (as part of the Climate Resilience Package)
Reduces barriers for state-owned buildings to be made healthier and more energy efficient.
Other bill endorsements
Not all of our endorsed bills made it this session but the work doesn't stop here. These bills will either be coming back in the short session, in the long session in 2025, or are being pursued through other avenues. In the coming months, we'll keep you informed about how they move forward:
We got our message across: Mature and Old Growth Trees are Worth More Standing!
(Photo credit to the Eugene Weekly & the story is here.)
The spirited demonstration on July 5th to Stop Logging Mature & Old Growth Forests at Gate 4 of Sierra Pacific Industries on Highway 99 was part of a series of escalated actions in the Pacific Northwest. There were over 20 events and actions that took place in more than a dozen communities across the PNW, which collectively mobilized more than 300 people to take action to defend our forests & climate! The local action was planned in coalition with seasoned forest defenders. Thanks to all of you who organized a fine event and to those who turned out in support! We’re just getting started.
Sierra Pacific Industries has plans to double in size and is responsible for poor air quality in the already pollution-burdened West Eugene community. SPI is currently bidding and closing on controversial timber sales in the mature and old growth federal forests west of Eugene.
Thursday-Sunday, July 27-30th - Cascadia Wildlands WildCATs (Cascadia Action Team) are hosting a Field Checking BASECAMP for people interested in learning the important skills to protect special places that are under threat of logging. Sometimes discovering an uncharted stream, a stand of old growth or an endangered species can stop a timber sale in its tracks.
This is a great way to plug in if you are new to forest defense. Get to know our forests, get to know our people! Forest defense is climate defense!
Here’s more information and the registration form. Hope to see you there!
The science says we can meet all our demands for wood products without cutting natural forests and relying instead on industrial monocultures for our needs. The time to stop mature and old growth logging is NOW.
Protect Mature and Old Growth Forests - The federal forest rule-making commenting period is almost over. We're very close to having a record-shattering 450,000 comments! One last push TODAY (last day). Super easy. (If you have already commented that's okay.) Click here to send a strong message demanding permanent protections for mature and old-growth #ClimateForests on federal public lands!
Save the Date
March to End Fossil Fuels in NYC September 17th
President Biden has the power to stop coal, oil & gas corporations from destroying our future. He must put an end to the expansion of fossil fuels to ensure that we all have clean air and water, and better health and safety for our communities. Why hasn’t he kept his promise? Because the PEOPLE haven’t made the pressure unbearable!
On Sunday, September 17th at 1:00 pm, tens of thousands of people are going to hit the streets in New York City, three days in advance of the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit 2023 to make clear our demands. The evidence is clear.
Stay tuned for distributed actions being planned in our area. You can sign up for more information at the national March to End Fossil Fuels website.
You Were There
Our stalwart friends with the Florence Climate Emergency campaign celebrated their 200th climate strike last Friday in front of the Florence Chamber of Commerce. They appreciated 350 Eugene’s gift of four of our stunning sunflowers to add to their weekly demonstrations. That’s a lot of commitment and they’re making progress with their city government, despite all odds. (Pictured here with Deb McGee and Patty Hine are Mike & Pat Allen, co-founders of the group.) Go Team!
What’s new? 350 Eugene has a new street address! Please note for your records:
1711 Willamette St., Suite 301 #474, Eugene, OR 97401
As some of you know, 350 Eugene is undergoing a process of discernment regarding the future direction of our organization. The wonderful news is that a number of solid groups have emerged to join our local climate justice efforts in Eugene since we started ten years ago. Working with coalitions and diverse, younger organizations with paid staff has been a good way to broaden our impact and support emerging leaders with serious skills and energy. This summer and fall will be a period of reflection, study and strategic planning for our next steps. Thanks for being on this journey with us! More to come.
A recommendation from the Resilience Working Group: The Well Gardened Mind by Sue Stuart-Smith
Bill McKibben’s New Yorker Magazine comment from July 16, 2023
Big Heat and Big Oil: A rapid end to burning fossil fuel would arrest the heating that has caused extreme damage in recent weeks; and that rapid end is possible.
It’s hotter than ever and fossil fuel companies are doubling down to salvage their profits. It’s not “irresponsible” to wean ourselves off what’s destroying civilization, as Shell’s new CEO says. It’s irresponsible not to.
Let’s do this.