Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed the state’s first climate change legislation Tuesday, capping what he called the “most momentous legislative session for energy and the environment in more than 30 years in Oregon.”
The bill sets ambitious standards for greenhouse gas reduction in Oregon, including reducing greenhouse gas levels by 75 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
The state’s greenhouse gases have been on the rise, according to federal data. Oregonians emitted 30.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, a powerful greenhouse gas, in 1990. In 2003, Oregonians emitted 40.4 million metric tons, a 32 percent increase.
The legislation, House Bill 3543, establishes both an Oregon Climate Change Research Institute within the Department of Higher Education and an Oregon Global Warming Commission. The Global Warming Commission will be charged with spearheading the greenhouse gas reduction efforts.
Despite the success of the bill, Kulongoski said he’ll revisit the issue in the 2009 session when he asks legislators to create a cap and trade system for carbon emissions.
“If you want to know where I’m going in this next session, this is the issue,” the governor said.
The governor also announced a new state effort to draft a comprehensive inventory of the state’s carbon footprint, the first such audit in the nation. He also announced that he has asked the Department of Environmental Quality to draft greenhouse gas reporting rules for the private sector.
Several winemakers attended the bill signing, saying they have committed to offsetting or eliminating all of their greenhouse gas emissions within 18 months.