SALEM — Oregon has extended the deadline for the public to comment on a plan to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to slow the impacts of climate change.
The proposed Climate Protection Program is being criticized by both those who have fought for years for such a plan, and those the plan would regulate.
The state has received more than 5,000 written comments on the proposal, said Colin McConnaha, manager of Oregon’s Office of Greenhouse Gas Programs. The new deadline for written comments is 4 p.m. Oct. 25.
Gov. Kate Brown signed an executive order in March 2020 directing multiple state agencies to take actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The proposal also calls for declining caps on greenhouse gas emissions, with targets of reducing greenhouse gas pollution by at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2035, and by 80% by 2050. It regulates large corporate polluters, transportation fuels and other liquid and gaseous fuels. It exempts landfills, electric power plants and some natural gas compressor stations.
Many of those speaking at the hearings pushed for the reduction targets to be accelerated.
They noted that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s updated report, published in August, found that to have any chance of meeting climate goals, drastic reductions in C O2 are needed this decade, and net zero emissions by 2050.
Oregon’s targets were developed before the report was released.
Business and industry groups, meanwhile, said the proposal goes too far and could raise prices for businesses and consumers.
“We do have to take action here in Oregon. At the same time, action that Oregon takes will not have much impact on what we’re experiencing today,” said Dan Kirschner, executive director of the Northwest Gas Association.
“But we do need to take action. And that action should be taken in a pragmatic way that preserves to the greatest extent possible affordability and reliability,” he said. Officials will respond to all of the comments on the proposed rules, McConnaha said, and could modify them.
A final proposal will go before the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission before the end of December.