DPO Environmental Caucus

Help Avert Climate Disaster

By Catherine Thomasson, MD & Phil Carver PhD.

Oregonians need Representative Schrader’s help to protect us from the smoke and destruction from wildfires triggered by the warming climate. Last year smoke blanketed the state as 1.2 million acres burned, ten times the average burn area 20 years ago, along with 4,000 homes, displacing 10,000 residents and destroying hundreds of businesses. Forestry specialists warn that rising levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) will further desiccate the forests.

Two hundred medical journals around the world recently warned that “a global increase of 1.5°C above the pre-industrial average risks catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse.” The IPCC reports we are at a 1.1°C rise already. To avoid catastrophic health and other disasters, the science is clear: greenhouse gas emissions must be cut in half by 2030.

Oregon enacted legislation this year to cut emissions from electric power generation 80% by 2030. President Biden has challenged Congress to make similar reductions nationwide. Enacting both the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill should greatly help Oregon and other states to reduce emissions from all fossil fuels: coal, oil and natural gas.  We need this investment to help build new renewable energy, electrify the transportation system and improve the electric grid to manage the transition to renewable energy.

Rep. Schrader could play a major role in deciding whether Congress will require all states to embark on the path to clean energy to help lead the world to solve the climate crisis as Oregon’s member of the House Energy and Commerce committee. Unfortunately, in June, Rep. Schrader introduced a bill with a Republican from West Virginia to postpone switching to clean energy until after 2031, and then allowing utilities until 2050 to reduce emissions by 80%.

Backed up against the deadline, Rep. Schrader was the lone Democrat to vote against the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) in the Energy and Commerce committee. The CEPP reduces emissions from the electricity sector 80 percent by 2030 in line with Biden’s goal for a Clean Energy Standard. A recent poll in Oregon by the non-partisan Oregon Values and Belief Center showed 80 percent support for prioritizing clean electricity.  We do believe that addressing the Climate Crisis does need to be a multi-partisan effort; but, we emphatically implore Rep, Schrader to vote for his constituency for the final bill. The CEPP is estimated to create over 7 million new jobs by 2031 and add $1 trillion to the economy by a study from independent firm Analysis Group.

The latest RED ALERT for humanity issued by the leading global panel of climate scientists makes clear that further delay is unacceptable. Allowing the world to cross the 1.5 degree C threshold would mean far worse destruction from floods, drought, hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfire than anything we have seen to date. We ask Rep. Schrader to heed the science by helping enact a national Clean Energy Standard as proposed by President Biden and passing the reconciliation bill. Oregon needs his leadership to protect us.