Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on July 15 signed into law a new zero-emissions vehicles target, taking aim at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, her office said.
Senate Bill 1044 will accelerate the adoption of ZEVs, with goals of having 90 percent of new vehicle sales, and half of all registered vehicles, be zero emission by 2035.
“When zero-emission vehicles are widely used and charging stations are easily accessible to all, we can support economic development and the environment at the same time,” Brown said in a release.
Backers of the law hope it will amp up the state’s existing ZEV measures to help address the growing share of Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, which currently accounts for about 40 percent, mostly from cars and trucks.
Existing ZEV measures include Brown’s 2017 executive order calling for a 75 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 (over 1990 levels) for the state and setting a voluntary goal of 50,000 EVs by 2020.
The bill defines a ZEV as a battery electric vehicle or a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, but also includes plug-in hybrid electrics in this term because its use is “consistent with the goals” of the policy.
SB 1044 also requires the Oregon Department of Energy to monitor ZEV adoption, and recommend strategies—such as policies to develop more charging stations—to the Legislature when its adoption goals are not being met.
“Oregon has important and ambitious climate goals, and the only way the transportation sector will reach them is if ZEV adoption happens at a much faster rate,” said Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), one of the bill’s chief sponsors, in a statement. “Getting there requires clear goals, metrics and policy choices.”
The bill’s passage was also lauded by Portland General Electric.
“We applaud the work of the Legislature in taking a holistic view of creating a cleaner transportation system, leveraging the reliable, affordable and increasingly clean electricity system that PGE employees are working hard to achieve,” Maria Pope, PGE president and CEO, said.
The company joined a coalition of environmental, labor, customer advocacy groups and cities to support the bill, which it said was part of its goal to support economywide decarbonization.
The coalition included the City of Portland, Climate Solutions, Idaho Power, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, NW Energy Coalition, Oregon Citizens’ Utility Board, Oregon Environmental Council and Pacific Power.
SB1 044 cleared the House June 18 with a nearly party-line 39-20 vote, after a more bipartisan 22-5 vote in the Senate June 6. It was sent to Brown for signature on June 25. It passed amidst the walkout of Senate Republicans hoping to spike an ambitious climate bill, which was eventually sacrificed by Democratic leadership to allow action on budget bills before time ran out on the legislative session.