For Immediate Release

September 22, 2021

Press Contact

Dylan Plummer, Senior Campaign Representative, Sierra Club

541.531.1858, dylan.plummer@sierraclub.org

State Legislators Urge Eugene City Council to Take Climate Action

Members of the Oregon State Legislature endorse Eugene’s efforts to mandate 100% electric construction in new buildings

Eugene, OR – Today, five members of the Oregon legislature, including four members of the Eugene delegation, signed on to a letter asking the Eugene City Council to move forward with a long-discussed policy to reduce the city’s climate pollution. The policy would mandate that all new buildings be constructed 100% electric, without “natural” methane gas hook ups. 

State Senator James Manning, Jr. said:

“The historic and devastating heat waves, drought, and wildfires of the past year make it clear that we must take climate action at all levels of government to move our society away from fossil fuels and into a brighter and greener future. I am proud to support the City of Eugene to lead the state in electrification and the transition to 100% renewable electricity.”

State Representative Julie Fahey said:

“Communities in Oregon are experiencing the climate emergency firsthand, and we cannot continue to rely on fossil fuels like “natural” methane gas. Given that the state legislature passed a landmark policy this year to clean up our energy grid, now is the time for Eugene to mandate that new buildings be constructed 100% electric and to create a model for climate action that other cities can follow.“

The letter states:

“The undersigned members of the Oregon Legislature are writing in support of the City of Eugene leading on emissions reductions in buildings and construction through local policies aimed at decarbonizing existing buildings and ensuring that new buildings are fossil free. After another summer of historic wildfire, devastating heat waves, and sustained drought, and in light of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most dire report yet, it is critical for all levels of government in our State to push for the bold climate policy that scientists tell us is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of the crisis.”

The letter goes on to contextualize the need for climate action at all levels of government in light of recent legislation that passed in Salem:

“This past legislative session has helped to make electrification a common-sense policy to achieve emissions reductions, while protecting low-income Oregonians from price-increases related to the transition off of fossil fuels. The passage of house bill 2021, which mandates electric utilities to provide 100% renewable energy by 2040, and house bill 2475, which empowers the Oregon Public Utility Commission to create differentiated rate-classes to protect low-income Oregonians from increasing energy burden, position cities across the state to take bold steps to electrify buildings with significant gains to both emissions reductions while protecting those most vulnerable to utility price hikes associated with the transition. With the leadership of cities like Eugene, we will continue to advance state legislation to promote a just transition away from fossil fuels toward clean energy.”

The letter comes as the City Council is considering directing staff to draft ordinance language to codify the building electrification policy at their upcoming work session today, Wednesday, September 22, 2021. Community members and climate advocates hope that the City will move quickly to pass the policy, leading the state on the transition to renewable electricity.

Cities and states across the country are embracing efforts to require that new construction utilize electric appliances instead of gas-fired ones. For most of Oregon, swapping gas for electric heating is the climate equivalent of giving up a car cold turkey. 

The following legislators signed on to the letter:

Senator James Manning, Jr., Senate District 7; Representative Julie Fahey, House District 14; Representative Paul Holvey, House District 8; Representative Khanh Pham, House District 46; Representative Marty Wilde, House District 11.

Find the full text of the sign on letter here.

###