FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
Wednesday, March 23, 2022

CONTACT:
Molly Tack-Hooper, 206-701-9763, mtackhooper@earthjustice.org
Allie Rosenbluth,
allie@rogueclimate.org, 541-816-2240

Environmental Justice Advocates Respond to Industry Lawsuits Attacking Oregon Climate Protection Program

Fossil Fuel Challenges to CPP are a Diversion; Agencies Should Focus on Addressing Significant Program Loopholes

[SALEM, OR]Oregon’s natural gas utilities, Northwest Natural Gas, Avista, and Cascade Natural Gas, and several business associations that use fossil fuels filed lawsuits last week challenging Oregon’s first greenhouse gas regulatory program, known as the Climate Protection Program (CPP). The lawsuits, filed in the Oregon Court of Appeals, claim that the CPP could potentially impact the cost of fossil fuels. The petitions do not explain what allegedly is illegal about the CPP rules, but cite a statute that allows a court to invalidate agency rulemaking if it is unconstitutional, exceeds the agency’s authority, or was adopted in a procedurally deficient way.  

“There’s no question that ending our reliance on fossil fuels is essential to avoiding the most devastating impacts of climate change, and that it will involve a significant reshaping of our economy,” said Representative Khah Pham (Portland, District 46). “Instead of resisting that change, we invite Oregon’s business community to join our calls for more safeguards to ensure that the transition is an equitable and fair one. Suing to overturn the Climate Protection Program doesn’t move us towards a just transition.”

“We are running out of time for meaningful action on climate, and the program that has come into industry’s crosshairs reflects just the beginning of the work that needs to be done to transition away from fossil fuels. There is no doubt that Oregon has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and a clear mandate to do so,” said Molly Tack-Hooper, Supervising Senior Attorney at Earthjustice. “These lawsuits do not identify a single legal problem with the Climate Protection Program, and will only serve to stall climate progress.”

“Any time significant action is taken on climate, industry finds ways to create and exploit loopholes and avoid accountability to the communities they pollute,” said Oriana Magnera, Energy, Climate, and Transportation Manager at Verde. “Diversions like these lawsuits change the conversation from how to meaningfully protect vulnerable Oregonians to how to enable polluters to do harm unchecked.”

The CPP regulates emissions from gas utilities, fuel suppliers, and a small number of stationary sources of pollution. While environmental justice and public health advocates have applauded this step forward for action on climate, they have also expressed concerns about major gaps in the program including exclusions for fracked gas power plants and the vast majority of industrial sources that burn natural gas.

“Regulating the gas industry and fuel suppliers is an important first step for climate action in Oregon, but the State still needs to focus on strengthening this program by closing loopholes that give industry a free pass to emit pollutants that harm the health of communities and contribute to climate change,” said Allie Rosenbluth, Campaigns Director at Rogue Climate. “These lawsuits are just another example that, despite big talk about climate goals, fossil fuel corporations will do anything they can to weaken climate action and delay a just transition to clean energy.”

“The Climate Protection Program regulations are a necessary step towards mitigating the negative health impacts of greenhouse gas emissions. Burning fossil fuels releases air pollutants and particulate matter that can cause cardiovascular and respiratory ailments as well as other detrimental health issues. The fossil fuel companies challenging the Climate Protection Program are impeding on much needed climate action that will protect and benefit the health of Oregonians,” said Samantha Hernandez, Climate Justice Organizer at Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.

 

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