FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, June 7, 2023
CONTACT: Masayo Simon, Rogue Climate, Masayo@rogueclimate.org, 541-852-2883
Ashland becomes third Oregon city to commit to developing policy to transition homes off of fossil fuels
Ashland City Council’s instruction to staff to develop an electrification policy is a victory for a youth-led local campaign seeking to upgrade homes and buildings to run on clean electricity
Ashland, Ore. — The Ashland City Council unanimously voted to instruct city staff to develop an ordinance that would transition future residential construction off of fossil fuels last night, joining Eugene and Milwaukie in efforts to address climate and air pollution associated with gas. The ordinance will be developed and voted on at a future meeting.
The Council vote was in response to organizing led by students with the Ashland Youth for Electrification campaign, who have been working alongside the city’s Climate and Environmental Policy Advisory Committee (CEPAC). The Ashland Youth for Electrification campaign, along with environmental and social justice organizations such as Rogue Climate, have been advocating for this policy for over a year, highlighting the significant health and climate benefits of electrification and the need for immediate action to reduce emissions.
“This policy will move forward impactful climate action while improving indoor air quality and public health for our communities,” said Anya Moore, Ashland High School Senior and youth organizer. “By setting limits for polluting emissions in new residential construction, we can ensure that our city is building smart from the start, and not contributing to air and climate pollution while we work to expand access to affordable housing.”
Ashland is now the third major city in Oregon pursuing policies that transition new residential construction off of polluting methane gas, despite unprecedented lobbying against these policies from the gas industry. In Eugene, the first city in Oregon to finalize such a policy in a vote this February, the gas industry spent more than $1M in just a few weeks to rollback the ordinance by creating a front group to run a referendum ballot campaign and hiring out of state petition gatherers. The Washington Post reported that the American Gas Association has been coordinating with NW Natural on that campaign, and is prepared to spend up to $4 million to fight electrification in the city.
“Despite the gas industry’s multi-million dollar strategy to oppose and rollback climate policy in Oregon and across the country, local governments continue to take steps to tackle pollution and make fossil fuels a thing of the past,” said Jess Grady-Benson, Rogue Climate. “This vote shows that our movement for climate justice is unstoppable and we commend the council for taking action to implement Ashland’s Climate Plan.”
Staff will bring back draft ordinance language for a stakeholder engagement process in July, with a final vote from Council expected as early as August or September.
“We have seen extensive community support for this ordinance and are working to continue the community’s engagement in this process,” said Piper Banks, Ashland High School Sophomore and youth organizer. “Inciting change is often difficult and rarely a straight shot, but with the extensive support from the community and the passion that we are seeing from youth, it is more than possible.”