NW Natural is proud to be a national leader in working toward decarbonization to help address climate change, including our support of the carbon cap and trade bill in two consecutive Oregon legislative sessions and in our support of the landmark renewable natural gas bill. As part of this work, we have consistently applied these principles: Carbon policy should be clearly authorized by laws and regulations; and those laws, regulations and resulting programs should be effective and as affordable as possible; they should result in verifiable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions; and the impact on consumers should be clearly understood.
Today, NW Natural joined other utilities, businesses, and the Oregon Farm Bureau to challenge the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) climate program under Governor Brown’s Executive Order. After exhausting all other options, this legal action was taken as a last resort on our customers’ behalf.
For more than a year, we worked side-by-side with a broad group of stakeholders who brought forward to the DEQ valuable ideas and legitimate concerns. We provided hundreds of pages of comments, including analysis from third-party experts, to improve the program alongside thousands of written pleas by customers, businesses, and other members of the community.
Our requested changes would have provided verifiable emissions reductions but were rejected.
In addition, the DEQ did not analyze the costs, alternative solutions, and economic impacts of their final program design, so no one knows the true cost to Oregonians - at the pump, at the grocery store, in other goods and services, or in their energy bills.
We believe the DEQ is working outside its authority in moving forward with this program. We also believe the new program lacks accountability, will be costly for customers and is unlikely to result in all the emission reductions customers will be paying for. Notable concerns include:
- The program lacks cost cap protections for customers, including Oregon’s most vulnerable low-income customers already struggling with cost-of-living increases.
- DEQ rejected the use of verified offsets as a compliance option, a proven strategy to lower emissions affordably.
- A significant portion of DEQ’s program is based on untested paper credits, referred to as Community Climate Investments, which do not ensure climate benefits attributed to the program actually occur.
These elements are inconsistent with all other carbon regulation in North America and should be fixed.
While the legal process unfolds, we intend to comply with DEQ’s program as required. We will also continue to pursue other decarbonization strategies that balance costs, reliability, and resiliency, including aggressive energy efficiency and innovative technologies, renewables distributed and stored in our system, and verified offsets.
We believe in the importance of effective climate policy and remain deeply committed to doing our part in addressing climate change, moving towards a clean energy future, and serving you, our valued customers.