McLain: Clean energy bill for farmers, first responders, families
As a mother, grandmother and retired schoolteacher, I think about the future often. The decisions we make today will impact our children's future, and theirs.
My daughter, Emily, got married this summer. Her wedding was a time to celebrate beginnings, and I carry my joy for her new life's chapter into my work as a legislator. In the same way I hope for a bright future for my own children and grandchildren, I want to ensure that the future world creates ample opportunity for all kids to thrive.
In 2018, the Oregon Legislature has an historic opportunity to pass legislation that will make a difference for Oregonians.
The Clean Energy Jobs bill will cap and price climate pollution and reinvest proceeds into Oregon's clean energy economy.
The Clean Energy Jobs bill is currently being refined by four bipartisan workgroups made up of legislators and stakeholders from a wide range of industry and interest groups. Using the lessons learned from others that have implemented this policy, like California and Quebec, we will create a program that benefits all. We will ensure that businesses are capable and have time to implement the program; it needs to be clear, simple, fair and equitable for all business.
Our state is poised to reap the rewards of such a policy: more well-paying jobs, clean air and local, renewable energy. The bill includes a specific provision to reinvest a portion of proceeds to help the communities that need it most — communities like ours in Washington County, where the effects of climate change have been felt by our farmers, first responders, families and communities.
Earlier than normal downpours, followed by extended periods of high heat are impacting our farmers' crop yields and shortening growing seasons, which hurts their livelihood and ours through higher prices at the grocery store.
We've spent approximately $340 million on fires as a state this fire season. Approximately 1,120,000 acres were affected by wildfire in the Northwest, and now California is dealing with fires that have taken dozens of lives. The job of a first responder is already dangerous, and climate change is making the job even more perilous for our firefighters.
Our families are also feeling the impacts. Think of the smoke we had this summer. Climate change and climate impacts, like wildfires, worsen already life-threatening illnesses like respiratory conditions and heart disease.Some of our most vulnerable community members — children, pregnant women, senior citizens and others with existing health conditions — are especially vulnerable to these impacts. Climate change affects our water, our air and almost every part of our planet.
The economic benefits of the bill are also great.
Oregon has the chance to be ahead of the curve, not merely benefiting from the growth of the clean energy job sector, but driving it. Currently, more than 52,000 Oregonians already work in the clean and green economy producing $7 billion in goods and services.
Two good examples in House District 29 are Thunderbolt Racing in Cornelius, where fruit juice waste is converted into ethanol, and Blooming Nursery, where the state's largest solar thermal project heats a 54,000-square-foot greenhouse.
Clean Energy Jobs will raise $700 million per year to benefit communities hit first and worst by climate pollution. It will create opportunities for Oregon workers with new jobs and job training. Just imagine what major new investment could do for Washington County.
We cannot continue to ignore the real world impacts of climate change; we must act now. Clean Energy Jobs is how Oregon can reduce emissions, create more opportunity for Oregonians, and lead with a policy that other states can follow.
I feel proud to leave a legacy of conservation and economic empowerment for my children, grandchildren and for future generations.
Susan McLain is state representative for House District 29, including Forest Grove, Cornelius and west Hillsboro. She lives in Forest Grove.
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