On the heels of last year’s Climate Deal in Paris last year, Oregon has become the first state in the U.S. to pass legislation to phase out coal power generation. In March’s bipartisan vote, the Oregon Legislature not only commited to eliminating coal use, but also to supplying half the state’s power needs from renewable energy sources by 2040.
By eliminating the need for coal, the bill also results in the elimination of dirty coal trains in the state, instead attracting more wind and solar energy investment. Based on current standards, Oregon’s energy will be among the cleanest in the country.
Another result is that the increasing number of electric powered vehicles on the roads will also be powered by renewable energy instead of coal power plants. The bill includes a measure to increase the number of charging stations in the state.
The process of crafting the bill was also unique—the product of consensus between regional and national environmental groups, the state’s two largest electric companies, and the state’s utility consumer advocate. The result is a long-term energy strategy supported by environmentalists that doesn’t leave consumers on the hook for aging, outdated energy infrastructure. Energy providers benefit by being able to plan and invest appropriately for a stable energy supply.
While President Obama’s Clean Energy Plan remains stalled in the Supreme Court, Oregon’s actions show that progress can—and must—continue at the state level. The climate can’t wait.