One of Gov. John Kitzhaber"s biggest selling points, back during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, was his claimed ability to think long term and substantially restructure government. He said he"d do this with health care, with education -- and with the environment.
In one of the many position papers that adorned his campaign site, he called for "a strategic plan that integrates the state emission reduction goal, the Renewable Energy Standard, aggressive conservation and energy efficiency strategies, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard and the Renewable Fuel Standard into a comprehensive state Energy and Climate Strategic Plan.”
Kitzhaber has been in office for a year now, enough time for us to check in on his progress. We got Scott Nelson, one of the governor"s advisers, on the phone.
During the past year, the governor has established an advisory committee to help craft a 10-year energy plan with five specific goals: Reduce dependence on carbon fuels and foreign oil, develop renewable energy resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and boost the economy.
Five subcommittees are looking at particular facets of the broader plan.
Those teams have submitted draft recommendations to the governor. After a staff review, they"ll go back to the committees for another four to six weeks of refinement.
The hope is that around March, the plans will be ready for public hearings and stakeholder meetings. Right now, the idea is to have a comprehensive pitch ready this summer, Nelson said. "We intend for this to have recommendations on legislation for (the) 2013” session. Some of the changes the governor will likely be able to institute himself, others will need legislative approval.
Clearly, this plan still has a long way to go, and there"s no guarantee that lawmakers will back any of it. It"s also worth noting that Kitzhaber hasn"t appointed a permanent head for the Department of Energy. Still, the governor has put together a framework that, if all goes right, should produce the "strategic plan” he promised voters. We"ll keep tabs on his progress and take another look when the final proposal comes out this summer. Until then, this promise is In the Works.