Donate to the Clatsop County Democrats!

Click an option below

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Log in to website

You are here

Oregon Blog Updates

Subscribe to Oregon Blog Updates feed
Latest entries from BlueOregon
Updated: 19 min 52 sec ago

$6,000 Oregon Tax Credit for installing solar is ending at the end of 2017

September 30, 2017 - 10:16am

I recently learned that the $6,000 Oregon Tax Credit for installing solar is ending at the end of 2017.

Because switching from fossil fuels to solar energy will help slow climate change + knowing this information will save people money + this feels like the right thing to do = I am encouraging you to take action NOW! If you're ready to go solar or know someone who is - now's the time to act. Contact a solar installation company in your area and get started with the process - here's how it works:

  1. The state tax credit expires at the end of this year. To qualify for the tax credit, you must sign up and make a payment in 2017 and the system must be completed before April 1st 2018.

  2. The federal tax credit is claimed on the tax year in which the system in installed. If your project is finished in 2017, then you get the tax credit on your 2017 tax return. If it's finished in 2018, then the credit is claimed on your 2018 tax return, which is filed in the spring of 2019.

Here's a Benefit Estimator from Energy Trust

Thanks for making the world a better place. Feel free to share this on social media or with any environmental organizations that might find this something they can get behind.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Climate Champions Don't Permit Dirty Fracked Gas Terminals

July 31, 2017 - 11:29am

Submitted by Sarah Westover, a Jackson County resident and No LNG Campaign Organizer at Rogue Climate, and Nicholas Caleb, born and raised in Klamath Falls and the staff attorney at the Center for Sustainable Economy.

The climate movement in Oregon has achieved incredible things in recent years. We’ve beaten back environmentally disastrous fossil fuel infrastructure projects, said no to new fossil fuel infrastructure in our communities, persuaded Portland General Electric to suspend plans for dirty fracked gas power plants, sued the federal government for its role in allowing and permitting climate change causing activities, and have started the process of transitioning our cities to a 100% renewable energy powered economy. Despite this progress won by the thousands of Oregon residents deeply engaged in the struggle to protect our state, region, and planet, we still have incredible difficulty getting Oregon Democrats to act on climate with anywhere near the urgency that is required. Even those who deploy some of the strongest rhetoric on climate simply cannot bring themselves to do what is necessary when presented with difficult decisions.

For example, Governor Kate Brown still refuses to take a position on the Jordan Cove fracked gas export terminal and Pacific Connector Pipeline that, if constructed, would become one of the largest sources of climate pollution in the State of Oregon. After two prior attempts were denied by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), this never-ending nightmare of a project is back. This time, it is at the top of Donald Trump’s list of carbon-intensive dirty energy projects and will likely be reviewed by Trump's own appointed FERC commissioners, should they be confirmed by the Senate. As someone who has recently claimed to be committed to climate action after President Trump declared the United States would not uphold its obligations under the Paris Accords, Brown’s refusal to take a position on one of Trump’s top three dirty energy projects is outrageous.

In the wake of the dismal 2017 Oregon legislative session, in which climate policy was completely neglected and the Residential Energy Tax Credit allowed to sunset, the Governor has increasingly deployed strong environmental rhetoric, signaling that she wants to be seen as a climate leader. In June, the Governor went to California for a photo op and speech detailing her commitment to upholding the Paris Accords. Shortly after, she announced she will travel to Germany in November to meet with global leaders about the Paris Accords at this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference. Most recently, she announced her support for the Clean Energy and Jobs Act in the 2018 legislative session (after failing to use her office to push for urgent passage in 2017). These public declarations have been accompanied by social media surveys and fundraising asks (one disguised as a survey of attitudes on environmental protection) declaring that Governor Brown is “leading the way on implementing progressive climate policies” and asking people to “Stand with Governor Kate Brown and demand that our government make protecting the environment a priority.”

It is imperative that politicians’ strong rhetoric be accompanied by equally strong action. And unlike comprehensive climate policy in Oregon, which requires legislative action (or a very well-designed ballot initiative), the Governor has the direct authority to influence the outcome of the Jordan Cove Project. She just simply does not want to take up the issue because it is politically risky. This continued silence has angered pipeline and terminal opponents in Southern Oregon so much that they interrupted a speech in Medford in April to demand a meeting, resulting in the first meeting impacted community members have been able to obtain with a Democratic governor in the past 12 years.

As Kayla Fennell, Ashland high school student, and Deb Evans, owner of property through which the Pacific Connector Pipeline would be constructed, described in their April 16 guest opinion to the Medford Mail Tribune entitled “Merkley can’t have it both ways on LNG”:

If approved, Veresen, the Canadian company behind the project, would construct a new pipeline through Southern Oregon to transport natural gas from mostly Canadian “fracked” wells to a liquefaction terminal in Coos Bay. The project would generate over 1,000 new frack wells over the next 20 years. 

The 36-inch diameter, 235-mile pipeline would cross public and private lands, requiring 95-foot construction easements and 50-foot permanent easements. The pipeline poses a fire danger, threatens waterways, fragments habitat, devalues private property and threatens tribal territories and cultural resources. The Jordan Cove terminal would be built in a tsunami zone; in addition to affecting wetlands, it would increase tanker traffic and release 1.5 million to 2 million tons of climate pollution each year. The LNG would be exported overseas.

[...]  

But newer research is revealing the climate impacts of natural gas operations to be much greater than previously thought, in part because they release methane, a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide. One study by Harvard researchers concluded that the oil and gas industry may be emitting nearly five times the methane from the south-central U.S. than previously estimated; when the fracked gas is exported, emissions are actually worse than coal.

In addition to environmental, climate, and seismic risks, the Jordan Cove Project is a direct attack on indigenous peoples. The Klamath Tribes -- whose waterways, fishing rights, artefacts, ancestral burial grounds, and cultural heritage are directly threatened by the Pacific Connector Pipeline -- have formally opposed the Jordan Cove Project along with the Karuk and Yurok Tribes. “We don’t want to mess around with the small stuff anymore,” Taylor Tupper, public information and news manager for the Klamath Tribes, told the Herald and News on July 21. “We don’t want to get to a Standing Rock (the North Dakota pipeline protest that gained national attention last winter). We need to organize now before we have a Standing Rock because we will. If this moves forward, it will happen.” Indeed, many of the same elements that were present in South Dakota inform the tribal opposition and conflict seems near-inevitable if Brown and others allow the Jordan Cove Project to move forward.

Governor Brown has the power to influence the outcome of the Jordan Cove Project. Under Oregon’s Constitution and state law, the State Land Board has the final say over decisions pertaining to specific state-owned waterway easements for the Jordan Cove and Pacific Connector Pipeline projects. Governor Brown, as a member of the State Land Board, would be one of the two votes needed to reject any permit granted for the Jordan Cove Project.

Equally important is that Oregon’s state agencies follow the Governor’s lead and her opposition to the project based on climate concerns would certainly inform agency review of the project’s required permits. Examples from Oregon, California, New York, and Maryland demonstrate that states can reject LNG proposals even when the federal government approves them. In 2007, the Land Board of the State of California denied the Cabrillo Port LNG facility, citing concerns about safety, damaged to migrating whales, air pollution, and climate change. Recently, New York utilized its Clean Water Act § 401 certification authority to deny the fracked gas Constitution Pipeline. Similarly, Maryland denied the Clean Water Act § 401 certification for an LNG terminal and fracked gas pipeline in Sparrow’s Point, Maryland. In 2010, Oregon used its § 401 certification authority to deny the Bradwood LNG terminal and fracked gas pipeline, citing potential harm to salmon habitat and water quality. 

Indeed, the Natural Gas Political Action Committee understands how important Governor Brown is to this process. Since October of 2015, it has given over $20,000 in campaign contributions to Gov. Brown.

Governor Brown can’t have it both ways. She cannot be a climate champion in Oregon, regionally or internationally if she can’t even be bothered to take a position on what would become the biggest climate polluting project in her own state, a project that she has the direct power to influence. Without action on the Jordan Cove Project, Brown’s climate grandstanding is little more than an attempt to win environmental credibility without having to make a hard decision that might cost her some political points with large corporate donors and the building and construction trades. The climate doesn't care about the politics of triangulation, horse-trading, or campaign contributions.  

As Bill McKibben has said, “‘No new fossil fuel infrastructure’ is the right rallying cry for this moment in history, a stand that would galvanize the rest of the planet and demonstrate where the future lies.” In Oregon, nothing short of opposing the Jordan Cove Project -- the single biggest fossil fuel infrastructure project proposal in the state and largest construction project, by cost, in state history -- can square Governor Brown’s rhetoric with the action needed for Oregon to meet our climate commitments. If we cap fossil fuel infrastructure, begin to dismantle our existing fossil fuel infrastructure, protect our forests, and dramatically shift to a 100% renewable energy powered economy, then we’ve got a fighting shot to prevent runaway climate change and build a world worth living in. There's no way we can do it with dirty energy projects like Jordan Cove.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Ethanol ain't all it's cracked up to be!

July 26, 2017 - 2:27pm

By Bob Rees of Milwaukie, OR. Bob is the Executive Director of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, 6th generation Oregonian, and a 26 year professional fishing guide.

Across the country, fishing may be seen as a relaxing hobby. But as we know it in Oregon and Clackamas County, it’s a way of life. The Northwest Steelheaders work to protect responsible and enjoyable sport angling with good access to healthy, abundant and sustainable fisheries in the Northwest’s healthy watersheds.

But Big Ethanol and their champions in the Corn Belt continue to come up with new ways to try and subsidize/mandate the use of corn based ethanol in our fuel that threaten fisheries and anglers. A new bill was recently introduced in front of Senator Merkley in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that would violate Clean Air Act rules to allow the sale of fuel with 15% ethanol (E15) year-round. Pushing more E15 fuel onto the market may be a favor to the ethanol lobby, but it will jeopardize our natural environment, the livelihoods of sport fishers and the safety of consumers throughout Oregon. Thankfully, this bill, S.517 did not advance, but we know Big Ethanol will be back and we should all be aware of what their attempts could mean for us all.

Flooding E15 fuel into the market will put any boat owner at risk. Fuels that contain more than 10 percent ethanol are known to cause unintended clutch engagement, corrosion and rubber swelling in engines — especially the small engines we use on our boats. If this bill passes, these engines will be at risk of damage, and those of us who rely on them will be stuck with the costs.

Furthermore, the continued subsidization of corn ethanol is a losing proposition for the environment. Already, increased use of corn ethanol has contributed to the conversion of more than 7 million acres of grasslands and wetlands, and other habitat to into corn production. This has worsened water quality, and wildlife and fish have suffered.

Now is not the time to double down on a bad environmental policy that will also endanger boat owners and their property. Senator Merkley should continue to fight bad policy like S.517 and help us Oregonians continue our sportfishing and summer adventures — while protecting our wallets and our fish runs.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

A tax credit for b.s. and six other Oregon tax policy changes you may have missed

July 21, 2017 - 6:30am

Tax policy took center stage in the 2017 legislative session. From a corporate tax reform proposal that fizzled, to a successful effort to protect health care coverage with health provider taxes, to a far-reaching transportation package mainly paid for by an increase in the gas tax. And that’s not all. While less notable, the legislature enacted further changes to our tax system.

Here are seven stories about Oregon tax policy you probably did not read about in the newspaper:

1. The Con-way corporate minimum tax loophole won’t be coming back from the dead

Not long ago, some profitable corporations were getting away with paying less than the corporate minimum tax, even zero in some cases. These corporations were exploiting a tax loophole created by an Oregon Supreme Court ruling in a lawsuit brought by Con-way, Inc., which held that the trucking giant could use a tax credit to eliminate its minimum tax liability. The 2015 legislature put a stop to this end run around the corporate minimum tax, but only temporarily. The legislature placed a six-year “sunset” — expiration date — on the closing of the loophole, meaning that the Con-way loophole would return from the dead in 2021. But in the just-concluded session, the legislature got rid of the sunset, meaning the Con-way tax loophole is closed for good.

2. Legislature improved how Oregon taxes corporations that sell services

While an effort to overhaul Oregon’s corporate income tax system failed, the legislature did tweak how the state taxes multi-state C-corporations that sell services. Previously, Oregon taxed C-corporations providing services based on where they had the largest share of production costs. Moving forward, Oregon will tax them based on how much they sell in Oregon. The need for this tax change was identified in a 2011 legislative study with input from the business community, which argued it would be more fair and make Oregon more competitive. In addition to improving our tax system, the change is slated to result in a small (about 2 percent, or $5 million) increase corporate tax revenues each year.

3. Putting expiration dates on tax subsidies proved to be a smart approach

This legislative session reminded us that placing sunsets on tax subsidies and loopholes is a smart, fiscally prudent mechanism (the Con-way loophole sunset discussed above was an odd egg; it was an expiration date on a fix to a loophole problem). Over the years, lawmakers have stuffed the Oregon tax code with all manner of subsidies and loopholes. Fortunately, the legislature has also placed sunsets on many of them (though not all). Of the 16 tax subsidies scheduled to sunset, the legislature let all but a handful expire, and pared back several of those which remained. By letting these tax subsidies expire, the legislature avoided over $30 million in costs that would have been paid for by cuts to essential services such as education and assistance for Oregon’s most vulnerable children in the upcoming budget period.

4. Many, not all, rich “rural” doctors no longer qualify for taxpayer subsidies

Every year, no matter how rich they are, doctors and other medical providers who work in “rural” areas — defined as at least 10 miles from a major population center — have been able to claim a tax credit potentially worth up to $5,000, effectively exempting from taxation their last $50,000 in income . The credit has proven itself ineffective. While an effort in 2013 to reform this subsidy for wealthy doctors failed, in the just-concluded session, the legislature put some limits in place. Medical providers making more than $300,000 a year will no longer qualify for the credit, unless they are general surgeons or provide obstetrical services. Also, those claiming the credit cannot do so for more than 10 tax years in their lifetime.

5. If you deal in tons of bs there is a tax credit for you

While the legislature let expire a tax credit for biomass, it preserved the portion of the credit for those who produce and collect “bovine manure” for use in biofuel. In other words, a tax credit for bullshit, at $3.50 per wet ton.

6. The legislature could have just named it the “Special Klamath County Tax Break”

The legislature created a new “Employee Training Tax Credit” for counties that meet a lengthy list of criteria. Some of the requirements are having a population between 60,000 and 80,000, having an armed forces base employing at least 750 people, and having “an agreement with an institute of higher education to coordinate efforts to promote enterprise throughout the county.” Only one county meets the criteria: Klamath.

7. The legislature proved it can’t go a session without creating a new tax subsidy for the well off, no matter how hard it is to balance the budget

By creating the bovine manure tax credit and the employee training tax credit, the legislature passed an opportunity to go through an odd-numbered year "long" session without creating a new tax break.

They can try again in two years, I suppose.

Chuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at www.ocpp.org.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs