First look at the “Clean Economy Initiative” to Stop New Fossil-Fuel Infrastructure in Oregon

The “Clean Economy Initiative” that may reach the ballot in 2016 is an attempt to prevent any new or expanded fossil-fuel infrastructure from being created in Oregon, and it would also define commercial transport containers larger than 50 gallons as infrastructure under the law.

In terms of significance, this initiative would likely have a far greater effect on Oregon’s future than the much-more publicized tax initiatives that will command attention of the corporate press. OregonPEN will follow this initiative’s progress closely in 2016. The one-sentence description and the one paragraph summary below are taken from the Pacific Green Party:

In one sentence: This initiative would prohibit the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure in the state of Oregon.

This initiative would draw a clear line in the sand and tell the fossil fuel companies “NO MORE!” It is written in a broad and encompassing manner to prevent workarounds and loopholes. Furthermore it would impose fines that would make any violation prohibitively expensive rather than another cost of doing business.

Below is the draft text in full:


Whereas Climate science indicates that carbon dioxide levels contribute to global climate change.

Whereas Climate science indicates that, globally, we are approaching a carbon dioxide concentration threshold crossing which would lead to fundamental and dangerous climate change.

Whereas such climate change is imminent and dangerous both to the future of the human population and the environment.

Whereas the evidence indicates that a drastic and immediate reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions is necessary to avoid said calamity.

Whereas it is acknowledged that the primary source of carbon dioxide emissions are from human activity, especially from the combustion of fossil fuels.

Whereas the people of Oregon hold that the wellbeing and interests of its people are both more important than the economy and the purpose of the economy.

Therefore, the people of Oregon, with the intent of stemming the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, prohibit the construction, laying, installation, expansion, or reopening of infrastructure related to the extraction, processing, shipment, transportation, or distribution of fossil fuels.

Definitions

Prohibit: The state shall not authorize said activity and will incur fines equal to twice the projected 5 year revenue for the infrastructure or $20,000 which ever is greatest.

Expansion: Where a facility/premises/infrastructure exists expansion refers to any physical change or modification to that location that would increase its capacity to process, extract, ship, transport, or distribute fossil fuels. Expansion here does not refer to any change or modification that reduces the location’s ability to process, ship, transport, or distribute fossil fuels and changes that would reduce that location’s emissions of carbon dioxide. Expansion also does refer to any change which lowers a location’s emissions of carbon dioxide but also increases its capacity to process, extract, ship, transport, or distribute fossil fuels.

Reopening: Is the resumption of fossil fuel processing, extraction, shipment, transportation, or distribution activity associated with a given facility/ premises/ infrastructure after its closure or disuse for a period greater than 3 months.

Infrastructure: refers to permanent or semi-permanent structures or machinery, fixed or otherwise erected at a given location. Additionally, it also refers to the commercial transport containers exceeding 50 gallons in volume commonly used in the shipment of fossil fuels by train, ship, truck, and plane.

Fossil Fuels: includes petroleum, natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, diesel , coal, and their derivatives.

Exemptions

The construction, laying, installation, expansion, or reopening of infrastructure related to the processing, shipment, transportation, distribution, recycling or reuse of post-consumer waste is exempt from this prohibition.

Transportation: does not refer to the transportation of fossil fuels in an amount less than 50 gallons within a personal automobile.