FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, March 3, 2022
Damon Motz-Storey, 303-913-5634, Damon@CoalitionCommunitiesColor.org
Oregon Lawmakers Pass Bipartisan “Emergency Heat Relief” Legislation
A broad coalition of stakeholders focused on public health, housing, and environmental justice united successfully to expand access to cooling for low-income Oregonians less than 9 months after a deadly heat wave.
[SALEM, OR] — Today, the Oregon House of Representatives approved Senate Bill 1536, the Emergency Heat Relief Act, with 49 votes in favor. The bipartisan bill passed 23 to 4 in the Oregon Senate earlier in the week and will invest millions into air conditioning, air filters, and cooling centers for low-income Oregonians and renters. The passage of the bill comes less than 9 months after the record-breaking Pacific Northwest “heat dome” in June 2021. At least 96 Oregonians died and countless others suffered without access to life-saving cooling devices.
“Oregon has been a place where we didn’t think we needed cooling devices, but conditions are rapidly changing. Protecting the health and safety of vulnerable residents now requires us to make sure that they have access to both cooling and heating.” – Rep. Pam Marsh (D-Southern Jackson County)
“As climate change accelerates, we have to be prepared for more devastating heat in Oregon. We need to plan for both short-term aid to keep everyone cool and safe while building the long-term future of slowing climate change. I applaud the communities and lawmakers who came together and passed Emergency Heat Relief to protect the health of Oregon’s communities of color, renters, low-income folks, children, our elders, and people with disabilities.”
– Candace Avalos, Executive Director at Verde, an environmental justice nonprofit based in the Cully neighborhood of Northeast Portland.
“Victoria! Gracias a una coalición de organizaciones, trabajadores de la salud, empresas y municipios, ganamos Ayuda para Temperaturas Altas de Emergencia en Oregon. El proyecto de ley asigna $34 millones para soluciones para proteger nuestras comunidades durante temperaturas altas, incluyendo las bombas de aire frío y calor. Las bombas de aire frío y calor son soluciones buenas para bajar las facturas eléctricas, reducir el uso de energía, y apoyar a nuestras comunidades para ser seguras y saludables. SB 1536 es una solución importante para empezar el proceso de adaptar nuestras comunidades para los impactos del cambio climático.”
– Alessandra de la Torre, Directora de Abogacía / Advocacy Director at Rogue Climate
English translation: Victory! Thanks to a coalition of organizations, healthcare workers, businesses, and municipalities, we won Emergency Heat Relief in Oregon. The bill allocates $34 million for solutions to protect our communities during high temperatures, including heat & cooling pumps. Heat & cooling pumps are good solutions for lowering electric bills, reducing energy use, and supporting our communities to be safe and healthy. SB 1536 is an important solution to begin the process of adapting our communities for the impacts of climate change.
Senate Bill 1536 increases access to portable cooling devices in residences overseen by landlords, homeowners associations, condominium associations, and local governments and directs the Oregon Health Authority to create a program to acquire air conditioners and filters for distribution on an emergency basis to eligible individuals. The measure also sets requirements for new residential rental units to provide adequate cooling facilities, creates a grant program at the Oregon Department of Energy to provide assistance for purchasing and installing heat and cooling pumps, and expands the Oregon Department of Human Services’ grant program for emergency shelters for clean air, warming, or cooling.
You can learn more about the Emergency Heat Relief Act, its supporters, and media coverage at www.emergencyheatrelief.org.