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Great News! Governor Kulongoski today formally vetoed House Bill 2940!
Oregon PSR and other groups had requested such action.
HB 2940 would have reduced Oregon's commitment to clean renewable energy by redefining what is "renewable" under the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) passed in 2007. That Standard requires Oregon to have 25% new renewable energy by 2025. "New" was defined as coming online in 1995 or later. House Bill 2940 would have allowed old pre-1995 biomass and waste burning facilities (Marion County's Covanta "waste to energy" incinerator) to be counted as renewable facilities in meeting the RPS.
Below find the text of Governor Kulongoski's veto. It's particularly impressive that the Governor forcefully rejected adding municipal solid waste to the Renewable Portfolio Standard (see the fourth paragraph), but also suggested (in the third paragraph) a revision in legislative language whereby areas of the state with pre-1995 biomass plants could receive economic support in these lean times without undermining the RPS.
HB 2940 originally passed both the House and Senate by substantial majorities. Since the votes are there to override the Governor's veto when the Legislature reconvenes in February, our task is now to convince legislators to embrace the wisdom in Kulongoski's letter, and to instead craft legislation "to make a targeted expansion (increase) to the RPS to account for the additional renewable resources generated by biomass facilities built prior to 1995" (from paragraph three), but expressly EXCLUDE municipal solid waste from the RPS (as was the intent in 2007).
August 7, 2009
The Honorable Kate Brown
Secretary of State
136 State Capitol
900 Court St.NE
Salem, OR 97301
Dear Secretary Brown:
I am returning Enrolled House Bill 2940 unsigned and disapproved.
Enrolled House Bill 2940 would decrease the value of Oregon's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by including additional sources of generation not accounted for in the original standard at the expense of new renewable generation projects. The RPS is a great economic generator, and already has produced great environmental benefits. I cannot support reducing the standard and thereby, the economic and environmental benefits.
I am sympathetic to the original goal of HB 2940 - to create additional economic opportunity for biomass facilities in Oregon that were built prior to 1995.
I also acknowledge the efforts of the proponents of HB 2940 to attempt to mitigate some of the bill's adverse impacts to the RPS. Unfortunately, those efforts were inadequate to prevent diminishing the RPS. The correct approach to prevent a depreciation of the RPS is. Such targeted expansion would benefit both the goals of the RPS and Oregon's biomass industry.
The bill was amended several times, adding various generation sources into the RPS.
This ad-hoc approach even resulted in the inclusion of municipal solid waste, which many experts do not consider to be a renewable resource. In fact, the legislature expressly excluded municipal solid waste from the RPS just two years ago. Adding municipal solid waste to the RPS is a step backward and one I cannot support.
The RPS is a tremendous success story for Oregon. It has helped to stimulate billions of dollars of investment in this state, during one of the worst economic times in a century. The RPS has helped to make Oregon the leading state in the nation in green jobs and renewable energy.
Oregon's utilities are ahead of schedule in integrating the renewable resources required under the RPS at no appreciable added cost to Oregon ratepayers.
We must maintain the growth and momentum in our renewable energy sector at this critical juncture, not slow it. In that context, I hope to work with legislators and stakeholders to develop consensus on how to expand the number of megawatts required to be generated from renewable energy resources under the RPS, while also addressing in a more comprehensive way, concerns from individual renewable resource sectors that seek to become eligible for the RPS.
THEODORE R. KULONGOSKI
Allowing old biomass and waste burning facilities to be counted as renewable facilities undermines the intent of the 2007 Renewable Energy Standard. The Oregon Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility urges you to veto House Bill 2940.
Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and Oregon PSR are signatories along with hundreds of other national, state/regional, and local organizations to the "No Incentives for Incinerators Sign-on Statement"
circulated by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and other organizations in 2007.http://www.zerowarming.org/article.php?id=247 http://www.zerowarming.org/article.php?id=248
Joseph Miller, Ph.D.
Member, Board of Directors
Oregon Chapter, Physicians for Social Responsibility