Oregon lawmakers: Climate change executive order puts corporations ahead of health concerns

Oregon lawmakers reacted to an executive order, signed Tuesday by President Donald Trump, that rolls back climate change mandates set in place over the last several years.

The order is aimed at curtailing the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempts to curb emissions, with the hope of boosting job growth in the industrial and mining sector. The order would rescind the ban on coal mining on federal lands and seeks to cut down on EPA red tape.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, Sen. Ron Wyden pledged to fight the rollbacks.

“Addressing climate change stands out as a major challenge of our time,” the statement read. “But the administration is instead focused on benefiting special interests and corporations while hurting the health of our families and communities.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley was among a group of lawmakers reintroducing an act to limit offshore drilling in federal waters and limit coal, oil and gas extraction on federal land. Climate change is accelerating, Merkley said in a joint statement with Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), among others.

“In that context, it would be a monumental mistake for the U.S. to keep issuing new leases for the extraction and combustion of our citizen-owned gas, coal, and oil,” Merkley said in the statement. “Not only would such leases directly magnify the destruction, but they would also undermine the international leadership of the United States in addressing this threat to our planet.”

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, who represents Oregon’s 1st Congressional District, released a statement of her own, pointing to President Barack Obama as a leader in clean energy and calling out Trump for “[turning] the clock back.”

“That’s bad for our country and our planet,” Bonamici said in the statement. “The executive order withdrawing the Clean Power Plan is contrary to the mission of the Environmental Protection Agency, and it severely undermines critical efforts to protect clean air and water. This order will have detrimental consequences for future generations.”

It’s unclear what, if anything, he rollbacks would mean for some of Washington County’s largest polluters.

Hillsboro Airport, which is managed by the Port of Portland, has made efforts to cut emissions over the last several years beyond federal and state standards, Steve Johnson, Media Relations Manager for the Port of Portland said. Many large corporations on the west side of Portland — including Nike and Intel — use Hillsboro Airport regularly.

“We expect no changes for Hillsboro Airport related to the executive order,” Johnson said. “Greenhouse gas emission reduction throughout our entire Port operation is driven by our aspirational goals, not by regulation.”

The spokesperson for Intel, the state’s largest private employer, did not immediately return request for comment. Intel manages several campuses in the Hillsboro area.