Framework Part 1: The New Direction for Oregon

Updated 12/7/07

Rob asked me to add the graphic below on Greenhouse Gas emissions for Oregon. Click on the chart for a larger version.

Original Post 12/6/07

Well, I promised a report from the Oregon Business Plan Leadership Conference, but Rob Zako beat me to it, with an excellent summary published on the OTRAN list (you can subscribe here). – Chris

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

THE NEW DIRECTION FOR OREGON: All proposed, laws, rules, plans, policies and other actions must be judged in terms of how effectively they keep Oregon on track reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Proposed efforts taking us in the wrong direction must be rejected. Efforts that don’t go far enough must be strengthened to keep us on track. Every year and at every level, Oregon must assess how well it is doing compared to the House Bill 3543 targets, and make adjustments as necessary.

INTRODUCTION

At the recent Oregon Leadership Summit, it became clear what direction some want to take Oregon’s transportation system:

Keynote Address to the Oregon Leadership Summit, Governor Ted Kulongoski

Policy Playbook and Initiative Guide: Moving Forward, Oregon Business Plan (see especially pp. 45-57)

The Cost of Highway Limitations and Traffic Delay to Oregon’s Economy, Oregon Business Council and Portland Business Alliance

The Keep On Truckin’ direction emphasizes moving freight, expanding the highway system, and raising taxes — albeit with a tip of the hat to climate change, peak oil and other sustainability issues. Despite the label “moving forward,” it is a direction back to the last century. In the 1920s, President Calvin Coolidge often said, “The business of America is business”… just before the Great Depression changed the business of America. We need a New Direction for Oregon, one suited to the 21st Century, not merely a continuation of outdated practices from the 20th Century.

The Keep On Truckin’ direction is the wrong direction for Oregon for many reasons explained below, but it is the wrong direction even for BUSINESS in Oregon. For one thing, the Keep On Truckin’ direction is out of touch with the average Oregonians, who will reject the proposal to raise the gas tax 7 cents by the year 2011 (see Policy Playbook, p. 57). For another, the Keep On Truckin’ direction ignores the twin threats of climate change and peak oil, which will change the nature of the global economy in the coming years and decades.

Nonetheless, it would serve no good purpose to simply argue against the Keep On Truckin’ direction, as doing so would likely result in a stalemate on transportation issues in the 2009 Legislative session. Rather as we move in the right direction, it is critical to understand the concerns of the business community, to build connections with them, and to help them get on board moving in the right direction for Oregon.

Many other organizations and individuals have already contributed great ideas for the New Direction for Oregon. These include:

Blueprint for Oregon’s Future, 1000 Friends of Oregon

2007 Legislative Handbook, OLCV Education Fund (see especially Chap. 12)

Goodbye Gridlock: Improving the Way Oregon Funds Transportation, Oregon Environmental Council

Oregon Strategy for Greenhouse Gas Reductions, Governor’s Advisory Group of Global Warming

Mitigation of Climate Change, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

In this and following posts, I hope to build on these and other good ideas by fitting them into a larger framework. George Lakoff in Don’t Think of an Elephant! taught us that progressives too often talk about issues while conservatives talk about values. In order for us to be successful, it won’t be enough to merely say what policies should be adopted. We will need to talk from our hearts and souls as much from our minds, to offer a better world view, and to explain why the ideas we are advocating for respond to concerns held by average citizens.

I hope others will take up these ideas, improve them, and make them OUR ideas. Working separately in different directions, we can do nothing. Working together in the same direction, we can change Oregon and set an example for the world. Let’s get started…

THE NEW DIRECTION FOR OREGON

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the following graph, adapted from the Oregon Strategy for Greenhouse Gas Reductions, tells most the story:

Oregon_GHG_Targets

Total greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon are generally rising year after year. (See the upper Historic and “Business-As-Usual Forecast” lines.) But to avoid catastrophic climate change, the scientific consensus is that Oregon and the rest of the world need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions well below recent levels. Indeed, the Governor and Legislature recently adopted House Bill 3543, making it the policy of the State of Oregon to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 75% below 1990 emissions by the year 2050. (See the lower HB 3543 Targets line.)

In brief, Oregon is heading in the wrong direction towards rising greenhouse gas emissions. Oregon needs to make a sharp turn and head in a new direction towards significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The targets in HB 3543 aren’t suggestions or aspirational goals. Oregon can’t merely try halfheartedly to achieve the targets and then pat itself on the back if we fall short. These targets reflect the scientific consensus of what we actually need to achieve simply to avoid catastrophic climate change. Oregon — and the rest of the world — must achieve these targets, we must commit NOW to doing so, and we must demand our leaders focus their efforts in this direction.

Bottom line:

THE NEW DIRECTION FOR OREGON: All proposed, laws, rules, plans, policies and other actions must be judged in terms of how effectively they keep Oregon on track reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Proposed efforts taking us in the wrong direction must be rejected. Efforts that don’t go far enough must be strengthened to keep us on track. Every year and at every level, Oregon must assess how well it is doing compared to the House Bill 3543 targets, and make adjustments as necessary.

In particular, insofar as the transportation sector accounts for roughly 38% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon, transportation policies and funding must head in the New Direction for Oregon.

Generally speaking, this is really all we need to do: Assert the New Direction for Oregon over and over again. Demand leadership, commitment and accountability. Expect real, measurable change. If you read no further, keep the graph above in mind whenever you think about transportation issues, or indeed about any issues. Keep in mind that we must stay on track along the New Direction for Oregon.

In more detail, to have a fleshed-out proposal for transportation (and other) reform in Oregon, we need to do more than simply demand measurable outcomes. We need to offer specific proposals for how to get there. But before it even makes sense to talk about specific policies, it is essential to frame the discussion and to make sure others are on board heading in the New Direction for Oregon.

Coming up…

Framework Part 2: Leadership, Commitment and Accountability

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