El Niño rains and early snowmelt that flood our fields and orchards. Droughts, floods and stronger storms. Farmworkers toiling in unsafe working conditions through smoke and extreme heat, while water restrictions impact our ability to protect our crops from that heat. These are the realities of how climate change is unfolding in Oregon. These are the impacts our family farms are struggling with — all of which have been predicted for the Pacific Northwest due to climate change.
But there are solutions — and Oregon is on the cusp of enacting a bold one. The Clean Energy Jobs bill is the biggest action our state can take to combat the climate crisis and build clean energy and resilience for our state. In passing Clean Energy Jobs, Oregon can lead the country in reducing pollution that causes climate change and transition our economy to clean energy. The bill would cap and price climate pollution from the largest emitters in the state and invest major funds into helping Oregon communities, small businesses and consumers — it’s a “cap and invest” program.
Individual farms like ours would not be regulated — but we would be eligible to receive program funding to help capture greenhouse gases in healthy soil, save on energy costs by upgrading buildings to use energy more efficiently, or make power onsite with solar, wind, or renewable biogas equipment.
Additionally, funds from Oregon’s Clean Energy Jobs bill can help farms upgrade diesel equipment for more efficient, less-polluting alternatives — from heavy duty trucks, to agricultural pump engines, harvesting equipment, tractors and other equipment. Existing carbon pricing programs show us how it can be done. California’s cap-and-invest program has provided $135 million to help farmers, commercial nurseries and loggers acquire cleaner equipment. Their program will cover up to 65% of the cost of a cleaner new or used heavy duty truck, up to 80% of other equipment. These are real, tangible savings that improve the bottom line by making operations more efficient and improving air quality for all.
It’s for these reasons that we are among the more than 220 statewide, supporting the Clean Energy Jobs bill. While all of us deal with changing technology and the cost of doing business, we simply won’t be able to adapt to unchecked global warming. After decades of inaction, Oregon must step forward to lead or the natural disaster costs to farms, forests and the State’s treasury will bury us.
As farmers who work land every day, we experience climate change in a deeply personal way. It is already disrupting our lives and livelihoods, and if we continue on our current course, it’s only going to get worse. Decade after decade scientists warned and politicians ignored, aided by million-dollar disinformation campaigns from the fossil fuel industry. Now climate change is here, and we’re living in a small window of time when we can feel it, but still have the power to change it.
Laws similar to Clean Energy Jobs are already working elsewhere. The agriculture economy in California has doubled in size in the last decade with their Cap & Invest law in effect. Clean Energy Jobs offers a powerful framework for Oregon to join with Quebec, California, and potentially others for cooperative action — the three together would be the 5th largest economy in the world — enough economic might to move markets and show leadership beyond our borders.
The science couldn’t be more clear: we have only 11 years to significantly reduce our use of fossil fuels and transition to a clean energy economy. Oregon must do its part to combat climate change. We owe our children a healthier planet. With Clean Energy Jobs, our state will be a leading example for others to follow while making major investments at home.