The focus for this issue is climate change. As a society, we’ve too often looked at climate change as a problem for the future. There is little doubt that the future has arrived. This is not our kid’s problem to solve. It’s our problem, and it impacts not only our health but the very systems we rely on to survive. The recent heat wave killed over 100 people in the northwest, and scientists are now studying with alarm the humidity and temperature at which humans simply die because they can no longer cool themselves. Heat waves, hurricanes, wildfires, drought, pestilence, crop failures, pandemics… welcome to what many scientists warn is becoming the “new normal.”
Scientists, academics and activists have warned us for decades not to get on this roller coaster, while oil companies and conservative talk shows assured us we had nothing to worry about. That’s all in the past now. We can blame ignorance for our inaction, and sue oil companies for hiding the truth, but no matter what we do, we’re on the ride now and there’s no getting off. There’s no point in talking about “preventing” climate change. It’s here. The focus now must be on mitigating the causes and effects of a new emerging reality that will be with us for the rest of our lives.
With this legislative session, Democrats have begun to pass serious climate change legislation, over the opposition of most Republicans. While we have failed to move as quickly as we should have or done as much as we could have, by passing HB 2021, Democrats in Oregon have gone farther than any other states to displace carbon-emitting energy sources. That feels good and is something we can be proud of, but don’t be lulled into thinking that will be enough. There’s still a lot more we need to do.
PS: We’re ramping up for our biannual county platform convention! Please participate to help craft our position on issues for the next two years. Fill out this platform interest form.
Our mission is to build a diverse grassroots movement to address the causes of climate disruption through justice-based solutions by inspiring, training and mobilizing people to act.
350PDX exists to address capitalist and political systems where profits trump people, false climate solutions are written by those protected from climate chaos, and the climate movement is steeped in white supremacy culture. We solve these problems by centering the needs of frontline communities in our campaigns and programs, while being co-conspirators in the fight for social and racial justice. Read more at https://350pdx.org/about-us/who-we-are/
While we understand your organization may be non-partisan, in what ways does your work align with our Democratic values and platform? http://multdems.org/platform
What is a recent/past campaign you worked on in Multnomah and/or Oregon?
350PDX has been involved in dozens of campaigns locally, statewide, and regionally since we formed in 2013. Most recently, 350PDX was a key member of the Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity campaign, a frontline-community-led statewide legislative campaign that won three major bills this session: the Healthy Homes Act, the Energy Affordability Act, and the 100% Clean Energy for All Act. Also, in April, we helped bring about a major victory at Multnomah County on a new 100% Renewable Buildings resolution, which now requires all new County-owned buildings to be fully electric and built without fossil fuels.
What is your current focus/campaign?
The Defund/Divest Team of 350PDX has just initiated a statewide coalition campaign to end new investments in fossil fuels by the Oregon State Treasury since they pose a financial and climate risk to Oregonians. While the campaign is still being shaped by the coalition which supports it, it is encouraging the Oregon Investment Council to end all fossil fuel investments and move to sustainable energy investments, using a social justice framework. See the Informational Package We work in collaboration with the Climate Safe Pensions Network
How can our members get involved in your important work?
350PDX and the coalition working to end fossil fuel investment by the State are both open membership organizations with a volunteer base. Anyone who wants to join 350PDX can get on the mailing list and learn about teams/campaigns on the website: https://350pdx.org/. If interested in the Defund/Divest Team, sign up at: https://350pdx.org/campaigns/defund-divest/. If you are interested specifically in the Oregon divestment campaign, you can indicate that on the 350 website or contact .
How can we (or you) let your members know about our important work and how they can get involved?
We can let our members know about your article featuring 350PDX and use that to communicate about your organization. What do you want us to say?
Editor’s response: In your note to members, let them know that Multnomah County Democrats care deeply about the unfolding climate change crisis and are working tirelessly to elect climate champions and pass bills that address the causes and impacts of climate change. For a look at some of the bills Democrats passed this session, read more here. We invite you to get involved in helping shape our platform and work for climate policies in the political realm. Our next platform convention is this Fall!
How diverse is your membership? Are you making efforts to increase diversity?
350PDX was founded in 2013 as a majority white environmental organization that has now shifted to focus our work on climate justice and centering the leadership of frontline communities in our base and who we partner with. 350PDX is committed to the crucial work of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI), and is putting organizational resources including money, staff time behind it through the implementation of a 3 year JEDI Plan, which includes organizing a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Caucus within our base, a Solidarity Team to more adequately show up in genuine partnership and coalition building with our frontline partners, and a track record of fully showing up as an ally to frontline-led initiatives like the Portland Clean Energy Fund and the Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity Campaign
What is making you hopeful right now?
350PDX and our team are working in collaboration with a broad section of the activist community and the success that generates makes me hopeful. The Defund/Divest Team is part of a 150-organization national coalition Stop the Money Pipeline and it is enormously energizing to work in campaigns with that collective power and support.
What advice or encouragement can you provide to our members in Multnomah County when it comes to working on the issues you care about?
This is a pivotal moment in which the fossil fuel sector is in decline and we have a chance to shape what replaces its influence in our government and our culture. With the backing of coordinated national campaigns and independent local action in concert with those campaigns, we can see how we are shifting the narrative and the funding.
In 2016 Oregon Business Leaders convened their Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Reduction Task Force to formulate a 5-year plan to recommend strategies to reduce in-state emissions. These leaders did not question the link between business climate and state emissions.
Legislators, mostly Democrats, energetically responded to the carbon pricing strategies recommended in the task force report found here, pages 17-19.
This is what the business task force recognized:
The longer we delay, the more climate change adaptation and mitigation will cost. Taking the wrong actions today could also increase costs; increasing energy prices would hurt the pocketbooks of Oregonians and reduce the competitiveness of Oregon businesses in the global marketplace.
There was nothing unconventional about this strategy. Notably, it provided evidence that declines in GHG emissions were attained with no adverse trends in economic measures like GDP. Legislators, mostly Democrats, energetically researched and compiled a comprehensive bill and gave it a priority in the 2020 session in Salem. It offered relief from economic stress to specified business interests including agriculture and forestry. Then there were surprises. Log trucks circled the Capitol.* Rural legislators left the state. It was clear that some electeds regarded economic threats from carbon pricing to exceed the prospects of climate/economic damage not seen until today (105 deg F, higher tomorrow).
These Oregon Business Strategies from 2017 clearly offered a success path in defending GHG-sensitive resources (people, property, agriculture, forestry, public health, the young and the old) from predictable and dire circumstances coming to pass now.
*It must be noted that Oregon timber harvester interests were not included as members of the task force but had a disproportionate role in defeating the business task force strategies dealing with cap and trade policy.
Oregon takes a significant leadership role
Today our Oregon legislature passed the 2021 Clean Energy Bill, HB 2021 C. Rather than pricing carbon it calls for a positive transition to non-emitting energy sources that are less costly for utilities and eventually rate-payers than carbon-sourced energy. Here are the emission reduction numbers (expressed annually in million metric tons of CO2 – mmtCO2 ) as committed for Oregon’s future if the transition non-emitting resources succeeds by the legislated end dates. Oregon’s annual emissions are typically reported as 60 mmt CO2 in adding up all sectors.
HB 2021 C
‘Baseline emissions level’ means the average annual emissions of greenhouse gas for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 associated with the electricity sold to retail electricity consumers …
Emissions Displaced per year
2010 = 20.3 mmt CO2
2011 = 18.1 mmt CO2
2012 = 17.3 mmt CO2, with average of 19 mmt CO2/year.
You will find it difficult to find any enacted policy anywhere on the planet that in one measure attains half of the UN IPCC carbon reduction goals in the energy sector by 2030. The good news does not end here.
Duty of care begins with knowing what is needed. Significant progress in cutting carbon emissions since 2000 is not generally known. To continue effectively and confidently, our advances must be understood from open evidence.
This IEA graphic shows that annual carbon emissions declined during the global COVID crisis and are expected to rebound as economies return. Various possibilities for rebound are noted. Global emissions are measured in Gigatons CO2/yr (Gt CO2). Gt = billions = 1000 mmt
What is the % decline in emissions due to COVID beginning early 2020? It’s about 11%.
A similar decline occurred from the 2008 mortgage crisis, measured in millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions reduction in 2009 in California. The % decline measured from CA emissions data was 6% per year.
As our commitments get more serious, it’s good to know what it took to attain these historical reductions on a beneficial scale.
Emissions from business-as-usual in the US have been in decline for a number of reasons. “With emissions down 21% below 2005 levels, this means the US is expected to far exceed its 2020 Copenhagen Accord target of a 17% reduction below 2005 levels.” This quote from a Rhodium Group report indicates a trend that should enlist continuing confidence in steady decarbonization: business is finding ways to reduce carbon fuels, operate more efficiently, invest in energy saving technology. https://rhg.com/research/preliminary-us-emissions-2020/
Clean energy subsidies have taken on a significant role, enabling cycles of virtuous investment. “How the U.S. Made Progress on Climate Change Without Ever Passing a Bill
Democrats and the Oregon Economy? Is anyone more effective in dealing with the fossil fuel-driven future that no one wanted or admitted?
Under Governor Brown’s Executive Order 20-04, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is engaged in rulemaking on a Climate Protection Program to reduce GHG emission reductions from three main sources: Fuel suppliers; Natural gas suppliers; and Stationary industries. Results from the energy system modeling work supporting the rulemaking show natural gas consumption declining in all policy scenarios by 59 to 63% compared to more than 9% growth in the reference scenario. Furthermore, the policy scenarios show a greater contribution of renewable natural gas (RNG) contributing up to 57% of total gas use in 2050.
These modeling results show that electrification of buildings is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions, even before the benefits of the recently passed 100% clean electricity law are considered. This modeling result underscores the importance of the new fact-finding docket opened by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission on the future of natural gas utilities. The goals of the fact-finding are “to 1) consider potential customer impacts that may result from limiting GHG emissions of regulated natural gas utilities and 2) identify the regulatory tools available to the PUC to protect consumers during the upcoming transition.” However, the potential impacts of GHG reductions on the natural gas industry will not be limited to DEQ’s Climate Protection Plan. Many other market and societal factors will also motivate most consumers to transition away from methane-based fuels in any form.
This docket will help set the stage for how Oregon can wind down its residential and commercial sector natural gas use while protecting remaining customers and promoting the public utilities to transition to suppliers of clean fuels for industrial consumers with applications that are not easily electrified, and building the green hydrogen infrastructure that will be needed to provide the seasonal storage capacity that our natural gas system currently provides. For more information click here. Interested members of the public can participate in this new docket by emailing . The docket number is UM 2178.
Big wins and some losses on Climate Change in Salem
As we face another heatwave in Southern Oregon that sucks the desert dry due to drought we did have some wins…
HB 2021 – Clean Energy for All passed along party lines. This commits our 2 commercial electric companies to 100% clean, carbon-free energy by 2040 the strongest targets in the nation. The bill has the strongest labor and apprenticeship provisions ever included in a 100% clean law and contains multi-million dollar investments for community-based renewable energy and storage projects to protect marginalized and frontline communities during outages.
House Bill 2842 – Healthy Homes passed 56-2 in the House and awaits the governor’s signature. It creates a healthy homes program in the state’s health authority and provides grants for low-income households and landlords to repair residential units at the same time as energy efficiency work.
HB 2165: Electric Vehicle (EV) Incentives are extended for purchasing or leasing electric vehicles. The bill expands theCharge Ahead Electric Vehicle Rebate Program for low- and moderate-income residents and requires utilities to invest in EV infrastructure with at least half the funds going to underserved communities.
HB 2180 EV Ready building codes are now required in new construction so that electrical hookups are available to cost-effectively install EV charging stations in the future. Sadly similar codes for solar have not been enacted or developed through the Executive Order on climate and in the next legislative session.
Unfortunately, SB 583 and HB 2924: Prohibition on future Confined Animal Feedlot Operations (CAFO’s) or mega-dairies died in the legislature, again!
Join the Multnomah Climate Action Team to learn more and to help create more wins in the future!
June is time to remember our hard-fought rights, from emancipation from slavery in June, 1865, the expansion of voting rights to women across the US in June, 1920, to the Stonewall riots in June, 1969, and the fight for rights for queer people everywhere..
Today, we celebrate Pride each June, and Juneteenth was just made a state holiday. Of course, we still have to stand up for our rights and freedoms, and remember that we are not free until all people are free… We still take a stand for what matters, as we did this past year, because Black Lives Matter, and queer lives matter, and believing women matters.
The effort to secure democracy is also a continuing battle. As Republicans double-down on their Big Lie to justify suppressing voting rights across the country, here in Oregon Democrats are fighting to strengthen democracy. If you haven’t already, go to this FastAction page to send a letter in support of Campaign Finance Reform! The Pandemic has taught us that no one’s health is secure until all of our health care needs are met. Democrats worked hard to refer an amendment to voters in 2022 guaranteeing this right for all of us. If you haven’t joined our Action Alert Network yet, I invite you to do so today.
We’ll touch on this and more in this issue, and spotlight change-makers who have helped take the lead on so many issues.
Speaking of local Democratic leaders, here’s a special call-out to one of our own party leaders serving at the state and national level, Travis Nelson!, who was recently named a Queer Hero for 2021 by the Gay and Lesbian Archive of the Pacific Northwest! Thanks for your leadership, Travis!
Today, Oregon is known as one of the most broad-minded states in the country. It has consistently for years been placed in polls as one of the top 10 most liberal states to live in. Portland, the state’s largest city, has hosted the most continuous Black Lives Matter protest in the nation. It is also credited as one of the driving forces against the Trump Administration’s attempts to use the Nixonian campaign strategy of “law and order” to win a second term. Just recently on June 1st, 2021 the Oregon State Senate passed House Bill 2168 establishing a cultural and historical significant date as an official Oregon State holiday known as Juneteenth. Senator Lew Fredericks stated “HB 2168 designates June 19th as an Oregon State holiday, commemorating the arrival on horseback of the news of the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston Texas, in 1865 to the cheers of African Americans then Enslaved.”
As forward thinking as Oregon is, and as supportive as Oregon appears to be of its African American residents, the 86% white state has a history of racial subjugation and prejudicial societal ideals. Even before Oregon became a state it was being purposely designed as a Caucasian-only haven. In the 1840’s the provisional government enacted laws against slavery while at the same time forbidding people of African descent the legality of settling in the area. With such laws as the 1843 Oregon Lash law stating that any free black person over the age of 18 “caught” living in Oregon was to be whipped every six months by the county constable until the person left the territory; literally criminalizing the presence of black people in the region. In 1859 Oregon was the first and the only state to be admitted into the Union with Racial Exclusion Laws in its Constitution. The laws remained until 1926, with original racist language finally being changed in 2002. In the 1920’s, one in twenty Oregonians was a card carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan, the highest percentage of any state west of the Mississippi.
Oregon has been slow to confront its bigoted history, taking 89 years (in 1959) to affirm the 15th amendment giving Black citizens the right to vote (which was ratified by the rest of country on February 3rd , 1870) and 162 years to eradicate the racist language in its constitution. Oregon also took another More baffling still, is the fact that Oregon didn’t fully ratify the 14th amendment granting citizenship and equal protection to African Americans until 1973!
It is important for societies to remember their histories, especially when it comes from such places as Oregon’s racially iniquitous past. As the saying goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We can use it as a barometer to measure where we are and what direction we as a state should be headed. State Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland) said it best “This new holiday recognizes that the people of the state of Oregon, despite our past, can take the veil of ignorance away and each year celebrate hope on Juneteenth.” That being said, Juneteenth’s recognition as an official state holiday starting June 19th, 2022 does not erase the past, but shows us as citizens of Oregon that however slow; progress is being made.
Please see more about Juneteenth, in this 2020 article by Dr. Rosa Colquitt, HERE.
(Damien Grace is the pen name of David Burnell, Multnomah County Democrats activist and PCP in HD 43.)
May is a month of many celebrations… from international labor to Asian and Pacific Islander heritage. For MultDems, we’re preparing for our biggest celebration of the year, Celsi, while also redoubling our effort to get good bills passed — starting with campaign finance reform which will help open the door to passing many other bills we care about. The contrast between the major parties is increasingly stark, as Democrats seek to rebuild America while Republicans double down on their election lies and defend the interests of the ultra-wealthy over the needs of the American people. Locally, while Democrats are working to end the influence of KKK-Era laws, we see Republicans partnering with Proud Boys as they become increasingly intolerant. We’ll touch on all this and more in this issue of the Digest.
On May 1st, 2021, the Multnomah County Republican Party signed a contract with a known affiliate of the Proud Boys to provide a security team for a private meeting. Daniel Tooze who voluntarily offered the security and signed the contract, received high praise from a letter the local republican party leadership had written to him stating “We were greatly pleased to have discovered you, and your extensive experience with church events, weddings, and various patriotic events.” They also stated in the letter that they were looking for a “safe event with no problems.” The May 6th private meeting was held to expel the county GOP chairman Stephen Lloyd, who has said to have been criticized for attempting to make the Multnomah County GOP more inclusive and open its meetings to the public. An Internal party petition read “The Chairman should promote the party platform, and not state, ‘Diversity is an extremely important part of society and diversity of ideas is what we should be striving for.’ ” The event was held at the Portland City Blessings Church with the contracted security team patrolling the local neighborhood from 5pm until midnight, according to a post from the social media platform NextDoor.
For more information, please go to wweek.com, yahoo news, and the Daily Beast
Photo from Sophie Peel’s worthwhile May 10 2021 WW article below. Check it out!
Campaign Finance may well be the FOREMOST PRIORITY for this Oregon legislative session. Until comprehensive limits are set, elections will remain unfair and unreachable to everyday citizens.
Voters resoundingly approved constitutional amendment Measure 107 last November, to allow finance limits, post SCOTUS Citizens United decision.
But unless follow-up legislation establishes stringent, comprehensive limits—elections will continue to be “bought” and money will steal the ability of everyday citizens to be heard fairly. Electeds will be chosen by money and subsequently influenced by money. Few of lesser means can compete as candidates. Legislation aimed to benefit everyday (esp. poor) people will be impaired. That includes many, many bills for which MultDems advocate in our Platform and support by testifying at hearings and writing to their electeds.
Our Election Integrity study group sees HB3343 as the best of 3 current limit-setting bills still alive. But we are not satisfied that any of them satisfactorily limit money flow FROM groups (e.g., PACs, SuperPACs, and party caucuses).
Unless legislation effectively limits ALL contribution sources, especially including groups, from funding a campaign, it’s like squeezing a balloon; flow may be partially restricted, but rushes in from the rest of the balloon.
Write your legislators to boldly restrict contributions by groups.