- Tackling Climate Change
Tackling Climate Change
Our nation is addicted to fossil fuels. This addiction is bad for our economy, our national security, and our climate, and it’s one we need to end. The carbon pollution in our atmosphere from burning fossil fuels like oil and coal is waging a direct and unchecked assault on our farming, fishing and forests – the cornerstones of Oregon’s rural economy.
When Jeff was young, his dad worked as a millwright. He spent his childhood in Southern Oregon timber communities, where timber jobs were what put food on the table and kept roofs over folks’ head. Fires and insect infestations are already killing trees at alarming rates across the Northwest, and climate change will only make these threats to our forests worse.
Timber is not the only iconic Northwest industry affected by climate change. Today, warmer, more acidic oceans are threatening fisheries and shellfish farmers. Several shellfish growers in the Northwest are already facing a crisis because their baby oysters struggle to survive in more acidic waters. These changes to our oceans will have a profound effect on our fisheries, and on the fishermen that have relied on these fisheries for generations.
The decline of snowpack is affecting our rivers and streams in Oregon. Without good snowpack in the winter, those rivers and streams dry up in the summer and fish die. Without water coming down into our rivers and lakes in the spring and summer, our farmers don’t have the irrigation water they need for the growing season. The Klamath Basin has seen repeated droughts in recent years, but the farmers and ranchers there are not alone. Natural disasters are steadily on the rise nationwide.
Congress needs to wake up. Climate change is real, and it’s bad for our economy and jobs, especially in rural Oregon and the places that most depend on our abundant natural resources.
Boosting Fuel Efficiency
Jeff has applauded the President’s efforts to boost fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks. Cutting the oil we use for cars and trucks will lower carbon pollution and save us money at the pump. The new efficiency standards implemented by the Obama Administrations will save vehicle owners and operators an estimated $50 billion in fuel costs and save a projected 530 million barrels of oil.
Jeff has also introduced a bipartisan bill to boost the production and use of electric vehicles. This legislation would increase incentives for electric vehicle purchases, promote the deployment of charging infrastructure and launch a “deployment communities” pilot program where selected communities across the country would get assistance in encouraging broad adoption of electric vehicles in the marketplace.
Reducing Energy Use: Creating Jobs and Saving Money for Families and Businesses
Energy-saving renovations to homes and businesses can create construction jobs, support a growing clean energy sector, and put more money in the pockets of families and businesses. To assist homeowners and business owners with the high upfront costs of these renovations, Jeff sponsored legislation to allow homeowners and business owners to receive low-interest loans that can be paid back from the money they save on their energy bills. Jeff’s bill to provide these low-cost loans to families and businesses who get their power from rural cooperatives was included in the latest farm bill and signed into law. He also recently introduced similar legislation to provide low-cost loans for energy-saving investments in manufacturing facilities, which will not only reduce industrial energy use, but also make American manufacturing more competitive.
Renewable Energy: Home-Grown Energy, Home-Grown Jobs
Jeff believes that replacing fossil energy with clean energy is critical to tackling climate change, but more policies are needed to make that transformation happen faster. Long-term policies are needed to encourage investment in clean energy. Jeff supports a national Renewable Electricity Standard, similar to Oregon’s standard, which would require utilities to generate 25 percent of our energy from renewable sources by 2025. Jeff also backs financial incentives to help families and businesses choose to use renewable energy and help build more renewable energy projects, as well as expanding transmission capacity for renewable electricity sources like wind, solar, and biomass.
Generating Power from Oregon’s Forests
Jeff believes the sustainable biomass from our forests and agriculture waste can and should be a new source of renewable energy to help replace foreign oil and coal, as well as an economic engine to create jobs in rural Oregon. Rural communities, in particular, can save money by using local forest waste to heat institutions such as schools and hospitals rather than paying to ship in fossil fuels. Jeff worked to include funding for renewable heating energy and biomass heating projects in the 2009 clean energy jobs legislation.
Jeff has also proposed legislation to allow biomass from public lands to qualify for the current renewable fuels program and make sure that biomass is eligible for renewable electricity and climate change programs.
A 21st Century Transportation System: Better Options, Less Pollution
Jeff is proud of Oregon’s role as a leader in public transportation and believes all Americans should have better access to transit options including buses, streetcars, and light rail. As a member of the two Senate committees tasked with overhauling our nation’s transportation legislation, Jeff is working to ensure that there is adequate federal funding available for public transit and highway projects.
Closing and Revamping our Dirtiest Power Plants
Coal-fired power plants are the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in America. Jeff is very supportive of the Obama Administration’s efforts to implement carbon emissions rules for new and existing power plants.