Last week’s announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency calls for states to implement policy actions to reduce power plant carbon emissions. This is, of course, a big step forward by the Obama Administration, and other states will likely be looking toward Oregon for leadership implementing their own action plans.
Oregon’s climate leadership has already brought attention to the discussion following the EPA’s announcement, with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy visiting Portland State University last week to discuss the new rules with state and local leaders. Here in Bend last Thursday, an in-depth conversation was held with innovative green energy producers and community thinkers who are taking to task the big-picture energy challenges facing Central Oregon. This conversation was part of The Environmental Center’s application preparation for the Georgetown Energy Prize Competition, a national competition that aims to dramatically improve America’s energy standing by challenging communities across the U.S. to rethink their energy use.
Attendees last Thursday brought attention to the opportunities Central Oregon already offers, including an experienced energy sector business base with many green energy professionals, abundant sunlight and solar energy potential, and a strong competitive and entrepreneurial spirit. Leveraging this network and enthusiasm to take the next steps towards creating a more sustainable energy future will continue to be an important focus of The Environmental Center as it moves forward with the Georgetown Energy Prize Competition application, and long into the future for the Central Oregon community. As one attendee at the Energy Challenge meeting aptly said, “If we win, we win! If we don’t win, we win!” Either way, the long-term effects of a energy-saving plan will be a win for Central Oregon and an inspiring motivator for others to follow.
While the new Climate Change Plan has already been sharply criticized by coal-reliant state leaders, others are looking for examples of what can be done now and how to achieve these goals. With cities like Bend leading the way, Oregon will continue to be a guiding light helping to create a healthier climate in the future.
For more information on the Georgetown University Energy Challenge, contact Lindsey Hardy at The Environmental Center.