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Governor’s Plan To Eliminate Oregon Department of Energy Is On Hold

The entrance to the Oregon Department of Energy main office in Salem.
Oregon Department of Energy
The entrance to the Oregon Department of Energy main office in Salem.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s proposal to eliminate the Oregon Department of Energy appears to be going nowhere. The Democrat had proposed in her budget to end funding for the agency, which was created in 1975.  

Her idea was to roll many of its functions into a new agency called the Oregon Climate Authority. That agency would have managed the state’s clean energy strategies, including a possible new cap-and-trade program.

The entrance to the Oregon Department of Energy main office in Salem.
Credit Oregon Department of Energy
/
Oregon Department of Energy
The entrance to the Oregon Department of Energy main office in Salem.

But Brown says the complicated nature of that cap-and-trade program, contained in House Bill 2020, has put the brakes on the Oregon Climate Authority.

“Given the dynamics around House Bill 2020 and what we were asking this new agency to do, I am still very focused on making sure that happens, (but) the timeline probably is a little bit longer than what I had originally hoped,” she said Thursday.

The cap and trade program could come up for a vote in the Oregon House as soon as Monday. That's after months of hearings, numerous amendments, and a several committee votes. 

Meanwhile, a legislative budget panel is scheduled to vote Friday on a bill that would continue funding for the Oregon Department of Energy. That measure would require the agency to report back to the Ways and Means Committee during the February 2020 session. The report, according to a budget note, "should include an analysis of existing programs, the Department's key performance measures, (and) a review of agency administration." 

Copyright 2019 KLCC

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”