EUGENE, Ore. — According to a release from the Sierra Club, on April 13, Eugene community members, climate advocates, and elected officials launched the YES for Eugene campaign, aiming to uphold local climate policy to transition new homes to clean energy.
Eugene residents will have the opportunity to vote on the Clean and Safe Homes Measure in November.
Building homes with electric heat pumps instead of gas furnaces cuts climate emissions from a single-family home by over 70% in 15 years – a greater emissions reduction than giving up a gasoline car. Gas appliances in homes and buildings are also a major source of air pollution, generating many of the same toxic pollutants as car exhaust.
“Youth activists like myself have been leading the charge to hold polluters like NW Natural accountable for fighting to roll back climate policy in Eugene. It’s our futures on the line, and we aren’t backing down. In the face of this fossil fuel funded attack on local policy, we are confident that our local organizing will succeed, and the city of Eugene will uphold this step in the transition to clean energy in homes,” said Lottie Rohde, a student at Churchill High School.
The launch of YES for Eugene comes as NW Natural raised the gas rate in March, prompting concern from community members.
The Sierra Club says NW Natural customers have seen gas bills jump by more than 40% in just 18 months.
The Clean and Safe Home Measure aims to "protect against Oregon’s growing utility bill affordability crisis by ensuring that new homes in Eugene are equipped to run on affordable clean energy, rather than expensive gas."
"Low-income communities in Eugene are really suffering due to high gas bills. NW Natural's repeated utility bill rate hikes have had a devastating impact on rates. Ensuring the homes Eugene builds today are equipped with highly-efficient electric heat pumps, which lock lower utility bills, is a commonsense step to expand access to energy affordability," said Jerrel Brown, Environmental and Climate Justice Organizer, NAACP Eugene-Springfield.
Eugene is one of 100 cities in the U.S. with measures ensuring new homes are equipped with electric appliances that can run on clean energy.
The policy is part of the city’s efforts to achieve the climate commitments outlined in its Climate Action Plan and Climate Recovery Ordinance.
Endorsers of the YES for Eugene campaign include Jane Fonda, Bill McKibben, Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis, 4J school board vice-chair Gordon Lafer, and more than 30 racial, environmental, and economic justice organizations.
Learn more about the measure by visiting the YES for Eugene website.