Well-Intentioned but...

Dennis Linthicum

Well-Intentioned but...

Just before leaving Oregon for Bonn, Germany and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Governor Kate Brown issued a couple of Executive Orders which she claimed would, “drive the state's efforts forward in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

The governor's first executive order, would require new homes built after September 2020 be equipped and ready for solar panel installation. Commercial buildings must meet the same mandate by October 2022. Additionally, by October 2022, all parking structures for new homes (this means your garage or car port) and commercial buildings must be wired for at least one electric vehicle charger.

Then, by October 2023, Gov. Brown directed the state's Building Codes Division to require all new homes to be "zero-energy ready.” 

Wow … How will this impact new home prices in a state where our “affordable housing” fuel gauge already reads, “Empty.” 

These are two excellent examples of seemingly well-intentioned Executive Orders that actually harm poor, under-privileged and middle-class households while squandering valuable resources at the same time.

These building requirements impact all new construction not just new construction in prime solar gain environments. Every new home, even those shaded by tall, near-by buildings, tall evergreens, or situated on north-facing slopes will be required to purchase and install features that will never be utilized.

For the countless other homes with moderate solar gain potential, what percentage of those will utilize these “solar-ready” features? These mandates force substantial resource waste while harming a disproportionate number of poor and lower middle-class families by saddling them with associated direct costs that they cannot afford and will never use. Will Moms be forced to give up a year's supply of bread and milk to buy a feature they'll never use?

The Founding Fathers knew, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy. So, why don’t we allow voluntary, free-markets to work? To wit, if you are building a new home and want it to be “solar ready,” then make that choice, if not, then no one should force that decision on you. Why would the Governor want to force someone to buy something they don’t want or need?  This reminds me of Obama’s healthcare requirement that all males purchase maternity and prenatal health insurance even though they will never need or use this coverage.

It appears Gov. Brown’s policy interventions were made without considering the unintentional waste stemming from the one-size fits all standard. Additionally, this policy neglects simple things like possible technological innovations and market supply/demand constraints.

Meanwhile, the agencies tasked with implementing these policies will be ever diligent in doing their best to follow the rules. This becomes a situation where bureaucrats are hard at work following the flowchart and checking the boxes to ensure that they adhered to the letter of the Executive Order. All the while, the ill-defined terms of this executive mandate will lead to practical implementation problems via obtuse rules and opaque administrative procedures.

With regard to “driving the state's efforts forward in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” these two Executive Orders don’t really drive anything, anywhere. Rather, they will make new housing and construction more expensive, waste precious resources, and tighten existing housing markets which will adversely affect people lower on the socioeconomic scale.

As I mentioned earlier, these orders were announced just before the Governor left for the UN conference for climate initiatives in Germany.  Apparently, this was the point.

Unfortunately, the governor has fallen prey to empty sophistry and these executive efforts resemble meaningless rallying points for her gubernatorial campaign and for all  like-minded Democrats rebelling against President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

Looking at news releases, the latest Bonn meetings didn’t accomplish much, either.


The greenhouse emissions from the eruption of Mount Agung, Bali weren’t addressed. Nor, were the forest fires that raged across the Western United States, or elsewhere on the planet. Additionally, the talks reported 273 gigawatts of worldwide coal capacity which is currently under construction, with another 570 gigawatts in planning stages. This would be a whopping 42 percent increase in global energy production from coal. This building boom will be necessary because the electric vehicle charging stations will have to be powered by coal, hydro or natural gas – solar power can’t meet the battery demand.

Besides, this year’s stated goal continues to be a target of keeping global temperature rise to well below 2-degree C, and 1.5-degree C if possible. This 2-degree global warming metric is the same 2-degrees that renewable energy cronies and government elites have bandied about for over 30 years.

In the US, it started with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearings on June 10, 1986. The event featured testimony from numerous researchers, one of whom was James Hansen, a leading climate modeler with NASA.

In essence, Hansen, "predicted that global temperatures should be nearly 2 degrees higher in 20 years" and "the average U.S. temperature has risen from 1 to 2 degrees since 1958 and is predicted to increase an additional 3 or 4 degrees sometime between 2010 and 2020."

Note, none of these predictions came to pass. Nor, is there substantial evidence that these conditions are imminent. Luckily, there is a nice escape hatch for being undeniably wrong.

The errors are explained away by, "the natural variability of the temperature in both real world and the model are sufficiently large that we can neither confirm nor refute the modeled greenhouse effect on the basis of current temperature trends."

In other words, “We don’t know what we are talking about but we are here to save you; so, give us your money!”

Remember, if we don't stand for rural Oregon values and common-sense, No one will.

Senator Dennis Linthicum signature

Dennis Linthicum
Oregon State Senate 28

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1728
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-305, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: sen.DennisLinthicum@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/linthicum