2015 Environmental Scorecard for the Oregon Legislature

The Bill Graveyard

The Scorecard shows how legislators voted on bills that made it to the House or Senate floor. But many other bills – good and bad – never make it out of committee. Others fail on the floor, while still others are sent back to committee before all legislators can be held accountable by a vote. We highlight the best of the best and worst of the worst here in our Bill Graveyard.


Frustratingly, despite two big wins, this session was marked by the failure of many good bills to even make it to a vote in either chamber. Four of these bills were either OCN Priorities for a Healthy Oregon or related to an OCN Priority for a Healthy Oregon:

OCN PrioritySB 477/HB 2729 About one-third of the power used in homes and businesses in Oregon is generated by dirty, aging, coal burning plants. SB 477/HB 2729 would have moved Oregon's investor-owned electric utilities away from coal by 2025, encouraging renewable industry growth and job creation in Oregon. Utility opposition stopped the bill in its tracks despite polling that showed support from 71% of Oregonians.

OCN PrioritySB 613 Our state trails behind all other Pacific Northwest states when it comes to protecting drinking water, salmon streams, and rural community health from pesticide drift and run-off. SB 613 would have strengthened rules requiring community members to receive advanced notice about aerial spraying, increased the public’s access to information after a spray, and created buffers to protect residences, schools, drinking water, and fish. Heart-wrenching stories from victims of errant pesticide sprays were unable to overcome the power of the timber industry in the Legislature.

OCN PriorityHB 3474 Protecting the Elliott State Forest is an OCN Priority for a Healthy Oregon. HB 3474 would have taken positive steps toward resolving this complex issue by allowing for the decoupling of the Elliott from funding for public schools. The bill died in committee after last-minute opposition from the timber industry.

OCN PriorityHB 3470 Emerging late in the session on a swell of grassroots support from around the state, this bill would have placed a cap on greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon and given agencies the authority to create a plan to meet emissions reduction goals. It’s exactly the sort of next step Oregon must take on climate change. Unfortunately, the bill was tied up by the end-of-session attempt to repeal the newly-passed Clean Fuels bill.

There were many other bills supported by OCN members that should have made it through the process given the pro-conservation majorities in both chambers. Legislation that would have done all of these things failed to move forward, often despite bipartisan support.

  • Increased penalties for poaching (HB 2537)
  • A ban on fracking (HB 3415)
  • Better preparation for natural hazards (HB 2633)
  • More solar energy in Oregon (HB 2745, HB 2447, HB 2632, HB 2559)
  • Innovative steps to reduce diesel pollution (SB 824)
  • Improved access to the land use appeals process (HB 3379 and SB 359)
  • A balanced approach on suction dredge mining (SB 830)
  • A ban on harmful plastic microbeads (HB 3478)
  • Healthier well water (HB 3076)
  • Safer septic tanks (SB 246)
  • Increased access to transit (HB 2979)


OCN Major ThreatHB 2503 Removing authority from agencies with expertise over complex issues would set dangerous precedent. Specifically, this bill would have restricted the power of the Fish and Wildlife Commission to regulate hunting ammunition and fishing gear and vested sole authority with the state legislature.

OCN Major Threat SB 712 Protecting fish and water is a core Oregon value. This legislation would have overturned portions of a recent Court of Appeals decision in order to allow some cities to avoid including protections for fish and water when carrying out water projects.

OCN Major ThreatSB 25 Every session there are bills designed to allow sprawl on lands that have been in continuous farm or forest use for generations. This one would have suspended the goals of Oregon’s land use program in eight Eastern Oregon counties.

OCN Major ThreatSB 716 Another attempt to create an exemption from Oregon’s land use laws, this legislation would have allowed each Metro county to designate one large-lot industrial parcel each of 150-500 acres, allowing development of farm, forest, and natural resource land.

OCN Major ThreatSB 748 Still another attempt to circumvent Oregon’s land use system, this bill would have provided an automatic exception to any and all statewide planning goals in counties that are experiencing high unemployment, a lack of growth, or high poverty levels if just 10 high-paying jobs would be created.

HB 3533 The Elliott State Forest offers some of the best habitat for fish and wildlife in the Northwest. HB 3533 would have given authority to the State Land Board to sell the Elliott, which would have been a step in the wrong direction in addressing the complex situation regarding the iconic forest and its tie to school funding.

HB 2281: Fueled by the Oil Industry: An Unprecedented Attempt to Repeal Clean Fuels. The last weeks of session were dominated by shocking efforts to repeal the just-passed Clean Fuels act. When we should have been working together on a transportation plan for the future, we were instead embroiled in a cynical conflict manufactured by the Oil Industry. To protect their profits, Big Oil and their legislative allies tried to force legislators to choose between the Clean Fuels Program and a transportation package. Pitting clean air and good roads against each other is a false choice, and the attempts made by Oil Industry allies to repeal a just-passed law were unprecedented. Their backroom deal-making materialized in HB 2281, and included a risky and uncertain greenhouse gas reduction plan drafted by Big Oil. This plan, cobbled together at the last minute, made it even clearer that the Clean Fuels Program was the most cost-effective and reliable way to reduce emissions from transportation. The bill failed within hours of seeing the light of day, but the fact that the Oil Industry was able to push this so far is troubling and speaks to the money they spend to influence Oregon politics. We applaud the House of Representatives for their commitment to sound policy and an open legislative process, even in the face of tremendous political pressure. Governor Brown later joined the House in wisely deciding that Clean Fuels and a transportation package should not be tied together – we need both cleaner air and better roads.


About OLCV

The Oregon League of Conservation Voters is a non-partisan organization with a simple mission: to pass laws that protect Oregon's environmental legacy, elect pro-environment candidates to office, and hold all of our elected officials accountable.

For more information about OLCV, visit our website at olcv.org.

About the Scorecard

For more than 40 years, OLCV has protected Oregon's natural legacy. An essential part of our work is holding our elected officials accountable. The OLCV Environmental Scorecard is not only one of our most important accountability tools, but also a tradition. The first scorecard was published in 1973.

By sharing how each member of the Legislature voted on the most critical conservation bills, we help Oregonians understand whether legislators listened to their constituents, or if they listened to special interest groups instead. It also serves as a summary of environmental bills and includes special recognition of the legislative champions.