ashland.news
May 19, 2024

Letter: ‘The walkout jeopardizes a fleeting opportunity to revitalize Oregon’s coastal and rural economies’

May 24, 2023

Both Democrat and Republican elected officials have a responsibility to the whole of today’s society and future generations’ quality of life. All of the reasons for the Republican walkout are not apparent. Still, it’s pretty clear that the walkout jeopardizes a fleeting opportunity to revitalize Oregon’s coastal and rural economies in districts that Republicans mostly hold.

Two years ago, Oregon passed landmark legislation (HB 2021) that requires our major electric utilities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2040.  Historic levels of federal funding (IRA and IIJA) are now available on a competitive basis to provide billions for wind and solar projects. But only states that have programs in place to administer the funds have a good chance of being selected, and bills to do just that are currently stalled in the Senate due to the walkout.

It’s difficult to exaggerate the magnitude of the opportunity at risk. Oregon currently imports a substantial amount of fossil-generated electricity from other states. However, abundant solar and wind resources are available in rural and coastal parts of the state to replace that imported energy. Developing solar, offshore, and land-based wind resources will provide good family-wage jobs to areas where timber and commercial fishing industries have declined.

Studies indicate that the amount of renewable energy available is substantially more than the state will need, which could make Oregon an exporter of clean energy, further boosting this new industry well into the future. For example, a recent study at Princeton’s Net-Zero America project stated, “The best wind potential in the country, if not the world, is off the Northern California and Southern Oregon coast.”

It’s time for elected Democrats and Republicans to put their differences aside, find common ground, and develop renewable energy projects that provide economic growth for rural communities and generate hope for future generations.

David M. Petrie, Tribal Elder

Coos Bay

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