Governor to push help for commute, environment
PORTLAND — Gov. Ted Kulongoski promised Friday an aggressive push to address problems of transportation, greenhouse gases and climate change, saying that the goals are not exclusive and that Oregon is capable of handling all of them.
In an address to the Oregon Environmental Council’s Business Forum, the governor said the current transportation system is unsustainable.
“We must ramp up our investments in green transportation while making even bigger cuts in greenhouse gases,” he said, promising Oregon’s most aggressive push yet to deal with both issues in the 2009 Legislature.
He said possible steps toward improvement could include such things as tax credits for businesses that encourage telecommuting, bike commuting and use of public transportation.
While the governor has stressed many of these points previously, he aimed some of them straight at the business community.
“Building a transportation system well suited to the needs of the 21st century and addressing the indisputable threat of climate change would both be worth doing, even if neither one affected our economy. But of course, as you know, they do,” he said.
“The fact is, addressing the issues around transportation and climate change are critical to our success in the global marketplace and maintaining our quality of life.”
He noted that California and British Columbia already have low-carbon fuel standards.
“If Oregon and Washington follow suit, the entire West Coast transportation fuel supply will be standardized toward this lower carbon fuel future. We should accept nothing less,” he said, adding that the Bush administration has “thrown up every roadblock at their disposal” to prevent the standards from moving ahead.
“Oregon and many other states are currently litigating because this is too important of an issue to let politics trump good public policy,” he said.
He said Oregon must avoid the danger of higher temperatures, less snowpack, fewer fish and dangerous storms that could cause billions of dollars in damage.
“We cannot allow ourselves to fall into the trap of thinking of transportation and climate change as conflicting policy choices; they’re not. We can do both, and we must do both.”
The challenge, he said, lies in making the public understand the importance of both in maintaining Oregon’s quality of life.