Wildfire, Climate & Conservation: Update from the Capitol

Representative Pam Marsh

Wildfire, Climate & Conservation: Update from the Capitol

Dear Friends,

Trees are blossoming and early season flowers are enticing bees out of hibernation. With longer days and sustained patches of good weather, our spectacular southern Oregon landscape has emerged from the winter overcast. 

Up here in Salem we are reviewing legislation to address our climate crisis, protect critters and keep our air clean and our water pure. From wildlife corridors and efficiency incentives, to bans on fracking, single-use shopping bags, and pesticides, the Capitol is bustling with environmental policy proposals in the 2019 legislative session.

I’m also advocating for additional resources to help us keep our communities safer from the threat of wildfire. Against the backdrop of a longer-term discussion, we need resources to invest immediately in prevention strategies and firefighting. 

I invite you to stay engaged as the session progresses, and to bring your concerns and questions to an upcoming Town Hall--April 14 in Ashland, or April 27 in Phoenix.

Many thanks for your interest and support. I hope you find joy and renewal in these colorful spring days.


Representative Pam Marsh

State Representative
Oregon House District 5 - Southern Jackson County

In this Issue - Quick Links:

A Forest Fire Resilience & Investment Package

Trends and projections indicate the strong likelihood of hotter summers and extended fire seasons, with more large wildfires and smoke, and impacts to human health and public safety. Oregon wildfires cost a record $514M in 2018, exceeding the record $447M in 2017. We must invest in more firefighting resources, develop effective community responses and promote landscape resilience.

Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) needs adequate funding to implement fire protection and preparedness in targeted, at-risk communities and landscapes, as well as resources to respond to the fires that we will likely face just a few months from now.

As a short-term solution, during this biennium, I am asking my colleagues in legislature to support the Oregon Forest Fire Resilience & Investment Package.

This four-part legislative package:

  1. provides additional initial attack resources to keep fires small
  2. provides additional funding and staffing for ODF to implement fire protection and preparedness in targeted, at-risk communities and landscapes, while investing in staff to protect forest resources and public safety
  3. funds and implements a “Community Resiliency and Smoke Impact Mitigation Grant Program” for at-risk communities
  4. funds a landscape analysis of wildfire risk and develops strategies to help strategically target investments with the goals of reducing risks to priority landscapes and associated communities.

Here my Guest Opinion published in the Mail Tribune on March 24, as well as a follow up Editorial supporting for this proposal.

Assignment to Governor's Wildfire Response Council

Wildfire Council Executive Order 1-29-19

01/28/19 - Executive Order Signing Event - Governor's Wildfire Reponse Council, Medford

I was appointed to serve as an ex-officio (non-voting) member on Oregon’s new Wildfire Council, established via executive order by Governor Kate Brown and just getting underway. The Council has been tasked with developing long-term recommendations to address our longer and more destructive fire seasons. I expect  this group to come up with strategies and funding to improve the effectiveness of firefighting operations, to increase the pace and scale of prevention activities and to address the important matter of restoration.

You can find agendas and meeting materials for the Council here. I will be reporting the group’s progress and recommendations via future newsletters.

HB 2020 - Legislation to Price Pollution & Generate Jobs

HB 2020 Lobby Day at the Capitol, 02-06-19

02/06/19 - HB 2020-Clean Energy Jobs Lobby Day at the Capitol

For years in southern Oregon we’ve been experiencing the effects of climate change in the form of turbulent storms, a shrinking snowpack, frequent and sustained drought and disrupted biological patterns. With HB 2020, Oregon will join California and much of the international community in addressing greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, the forces driving climate disruption. Only a coordinated global effort will bend the global warming curve, and Oregon must join that effort.

During the month of February, my colleagues and I on the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction traveled across the state to Springfield, southern Oregon, the Dalles and Bend to solicit input on House Bill 2020, the Clean Energy Jobs act. We also received testimony here in Salem and, via electronic means, from residents of Baker City and Newport. With feedback in hand, we are in the process of drafting amendments to be incorporated into the bill.

HB 2020 will establish a statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions. The cap will ratchet down in years to come and set Oregon on a track to achieve our greenhouse gas reduction goals. The state’s biggest emissions polluters will be required to purchase greenhouse gas emissions permits. Revenues generated from the sale of permits will be invested in climate mitigation and adaptation projects across the state, including forest restoration, irrigation modernization and sustainable agricultural practices. The bill is likely to contain a refund of up to $100/individual to cushion any impacts of increased fuel costs on median income families.  

When I ran for office in 2016, I focused on climate change as the state’s biggest challenge. HB 2020 will mark Oregon among the leaders in our fight to stabilize the planet.

HB 3094 - Home WRAP for Residential Energy Upgrades

I am the Chief Sponsor on HB 3094 that will establish a Home Weatherization, Retrofit and Affordability Program (WRAP) within the Housing and Community Services Department. The program will provide incentive payments to middle income homeowners to support residential energy improvement projects. The right energy efficiency investments will reduce utility bills, increase disposable income, and trim a family’s carbon footprint. On April 4, HB 3094 passed out of Committee and been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Ayes for the Environment! No Fracking or Off-Shore Drilling in Oregon!

HB 2623  10-year Ban on Fracking: I signed on as a sponsor for this bill, which prohibits hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas exploration and production in our state. It passed in the House by a wide majority on March 18, and is headed to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee for consideration.

SB 256  Off-Shore Drilling Moratorium: On March 19, I voted to repeal the sunset on the moratorium banning oil, gas and sulfur leasing off the shores of Oregon. The governor has already signed this bill, ensuring that Oregon’s iconic coast will be free of drilling rigs for the foreseeable future.

HB 2834 - Supporting Safe Passage for Wildlife

HB 2834 House Committee on Natural Resources Hearing 03-14-19

03/14/19 - House Committee on Natural Resources Public Hearing

Though critters in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument don’t have say in the legislative process, it’s safe to say they would support this bill. The Monument and the ecosystem it protects are divided by the I-5, splitting the habitat and stranding flora and fauna on one side or the other of the freeway. HB 2834 aims to improve connectivity for wildlife biodiversity and reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. It requires the State Department of Fish and Wildlife, in consultation with Oregon Department of Transportation, to develop a Wildlife Corridor and Safe Road Crossing Action Plan.

I’m sponsoring HB 2834, and on March 14, I delivered testimony to the House Committee on Natural Resources public hearing. Here is a video of my comments.

Conservation Bills in the In-box

My staff and I see dozens of e-mails each week from constituents who care about conserving natural resources. With thousands of proposed bills in this legislative session, and many related to conservation, it’s hard to know about them all early in the session. In fact, sometimes we learn about them from YOU, the people who write letters to share your support, concern or objection.

Since the legislative session started in January, here are some of the conservation bills that have generated mail from House District 5 constituents:

HB 2007  Stronger Diesel Emissions Standards: Directs Environmental Quality Commission to adopt by rule diesel engine emission standards for medium-duty trucks and heavy-duty trucks. At an April 4 work session, the House Committee on Energy & Environment referred HB 2007 to the House Committee on Rules for further consideration.

HB 2250  Oregon Environmental Protection Act: Requires Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Health Authority to assess and uphold current federal standards for the Clean Air and Water Acts. This legislation has already passed in the House and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources for consideration.

HB 2509  Single-use Bag Ban: Prohibits use of single-use checkout bags except in certain cases. The House Committee on Energy & Environment held a public hearing on this bill in February and heard proposed amendments at an April 4 work session.

HB 2688  Right to Repair: Requires original equipment manufacturers to make available parts, tools, service manuals and other devices to equipment owners and authorized repair providers to diagnose, maintain or repair digital electronic equipment. This bill is currently in the hands of the House Committee on Business and Labor with a public hearing scheduled for April 10, however, it appears that the Committee does plan to move the bill forward this session.

HB 2883  Polystyrene Food Container Ban: Prohibits food vendors from using polystyrene containers in selling, serving or dispensing prepared food to the public. The House Committee on Energy and Environment has held two public hearings and it began hearing propose

HB 3058  Yes to Pollinators, No to Pesticides: I am a sponsor of this bill, which requires the department of agriculture to review current scientific data regarding the safety of pesticide products containing chlorpyrifos. I am also supporting HB 2619 which prohibits the sale, purchase or use of pesticide chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic pesticide. It would also place neonicotinoids on a restricted use list, meaning that these products could be used only by individuals who have applied for an applicator license. Neonicotinoids are highly toxic to bees, beneficial insects, fish, and birds. 

Celebrate, Participate, Engage!

No LNG Exports Lobby Day, 03-28-19

03/28/19 - No LNG Exports Lobby Day advocates visit my office in Salem (Photo courtesy of Dasja Dolan)

Springtime gives us a chance to celebrate with the people and organizations that work tirelessly to protect and enhance the natural environment. Join me and dozens of local organizations on April 20 for Rogue Valley Earth Day festivities, and take part in opportunities to celebrate Earth Day all month--here is a calendar of regional events assembled by KS Wild. These are great opportunities to learn more about the issues and team up with neighbors to care for our home.

It’s an exciting time for conservation at the Capitol, and I encourage my constituents to be active in the legislative process. You can track the progress of any bill here at the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS). As always, feel free to reach out to my office with your concerns.

Town Halls on the Horizon

Talent Teach & Greet 1-20-19

01/20/19 - Teach & Greet at Talent Community Center (Photo courtesy of Dasja Dolan)

I enjoy the opportunity to share legislative updates and to hear from my constituents in person. At the Town Hall in Phoenix on April 27, Senator Jeff Golden and I will pair up to report on activity in the House and Senate, and to answer your questions.

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1405

District Phone: 541-282-4516

Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-375, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: Rep.PamMarsh@oregonlegislature.gov
Website & E-subscribe: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/marsh