While we’re having an ice storm in the Albany area and much of western Oregon, this might be a good time to think about what the state government has in mind for us in terms of our ability to get around, or to keep warm if we stay home.
Almost a year ago, on March 10, 2020, Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-04. This order tells state agencies to do whatever they can under existing law to make sure that Oregon reduces its output of greenhouse gases. The goals are to reduce emissions at least 45 percent below the level of 1990 by 2035, and at least 80 percent below 1990 by 2050.
The Department of Environmental Quality was ordered, among other things, to devise a program to “cap and reduce” greenhouse gas emissions from sources including transportation and heating fuel.
For months the DEQ has been beavering away to get going on what they call “rulemaking.” They hope to have the rules drafted and out for public comment by the end of June.
What the rules will say is hard to predict. But given the severity of the goals, you’d think they eventually would have to result in the elimination of fossil fuels for transportation and heating your home.
Which sounds kind of unsettling right now, when it’s freezing outside and the natural-gas furnace in your house runs pretty much all the time.
We’re supposed to count on electrification to make life possible without burning motor fuel or natural gas. Somehow all this added electricity is supposed to come from windmills and solar farms east of the Cascades, or maybe ocean waves off the coast.
Maybe that will work. It is nice to think so. Maybe over the next generation or so, the 4 million motor vehicles in Oregon will all be replaced by battery-driven rigs. Every house will have an electric heat pump. And maybe there’s a way to generate all the juice this conversion will require.
Or maybe it will turn out otherwise. But by then our governor and other officials pursuing these policies will be long gone from public life, perhaps retired in a pleasant clime where they can’t be held to answer for the goals they set. (hh)