In 1968, environmental protection was not the high-priority issue it is today. The federal Environmental Protection Agency was still two years away from being created. But that year, a group of Oregonians united to amplify their efforts to make their home healthier and safer for future generations. Those PTA and garden club members, outdoor enthusiasts, and conservationists became the Oregon Environmental Council.
The OEC’s work and legacy still inspires the community generations later. For example, 12-year-old Greyson, who lives in the metro Portland area, recently received $500 from his parents to donate to the non-profit of his choice. After researching various options, Greyson decided to have his parents direct the money to the OEC. He made this choice because “it is helping the environment that I live in every day,” he said.
As a statewide non-profit membership-based organization, the OEC brings people together to find common-sense environmental solutions that enable everyone to participate in making our state a better place to live. For OEC, the environment is more than Oregon’s natural wonders–it’s also the communities where we live and work and where children learn and play.
A decades-long record of changing laws and lives.
OEC’s legacy of creative, collaborative, and innovative solutions extends more than five decades and enables millions of other Oregonians to be part of the solution to environmental challenges. If you recycle at your curb, it’s because of OEC’s advocacy for a state law in 1983. The OEC’s advocacy for Oregon’s “Bottle Bill” in 1971 means that people in Oregon now recycle one billion cans and bottles every year. In September 2022 OEC supported the adoption of an expanded Clean Fuels Program by the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission (EQC), making it the strongest such plan in the country. These strict standards will further reduce climate emissions and co-pollutants in the transportation sector throughout the state.
Looking forward, below are three state-mandated standards Oregon will meet by 2050, thanks to the work of OEC and its allies:
- 100% of Oregon’s electricity will be emissions free by 2040.
- 100% of all new cars and trucks will be electric.
- Climate pollution from industry and utilities will be cut by 90%.
Committing to environmental protection that protects all.
Despite these achievements, the OEC wants to go even bigger with its work. They envision a future where everyone in Oregon can benefit from a healthy environment, regardless of their geographic location, race, or social and economic status.
To do this, the council developed a new strategic plan to create healthy and resilient homes, workplaces, communities, and ecosystems while sustaining a clean, equitable, and thriving economy. The council listens to the lived experiences of Oregon’s community members and organizations and partners with them to create on-the-ground projects that provide tangible local benefits. These projects often provide a foundation for developing effective new laws, regulations and other public policies that transcend community boundaries and amplify the impact on the Oregon of tomorrow–the Oregon that kids like Greyson will live in.
Projects the OEC is currently working on include:
- Helping to implement programs for statewide climate-friendly buildings while also participating in a Hacienda CDC project to install solar panels and heat pumps in hundreds of affordable housing units.
- Expanding state rebates for electric vehicles, while working with Oregon State University to demonstrate how farmers and ranchers can also embrace EVs for on-farm use.
- Offering “eco-healthy” home cleaning and personal care tips while also winning new statewide policies for safer cosmetics and toxic-free children’s products.
Consider supporting the Oregon Environmental Council’s efforts.
OnPoint donated $10,000 in 2022 and is giving an additional $35,000 this year to OEC’s efforts to support equitable environmental solutions in the places we call home. If you are interested in adding your own support, the council welcomes donations from individuals or through workplace funds. To stay current on when you can weigh in on crucial environmental policy decisions, join OEC’s Grassroots Action Information Network.
“Just like OnPoint, Oregon Environmental Council supports healthy families,” said Jana Gastellum, OEC’s Executive Director. “We’ve won protections to get toxics out of toys and keep drinking water safe, and helped expand access to rebates for clean cars to protect the air kids breathe. A healthy environment is the bedrock foundation for healthy kids.”
Learn more about everything the Oregon Environmental Council does to create a healthy and more sustainable environment for everyone.