We sent each of the candidates six questions on where their priorities lie when it comes to environmental issues and climate change.

PORTLAND, Ore. — With 10 days before ballots are due, we wanted to check with the candidates vying to be Oregon’s next Governor about where they stand on environmental policy and climate change.

We sent each of the candidates — unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson, Republican Christine Drazan and Democrat Tina Kotek — six questions. Drazan and Kotek both took the time to answer our questions, but Johnson’s communications director told us the candidate was too busy and instead referred us to Johnson’s website where “Betsy’s positions on climate change and the environment are readily available.”

Below you’ll find each of the questions we posed to Kotek and Drazan, along with their unedited responses.

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Christine Drazan

Where does climate change rank on your list of priorities?

Oregon is already a national leader when it comes to lower emissions and a clean power supply. Just eight percent of Oregonians identified climate change as a top issue in the recent Oregonian/OregonLive survey. The voters I have talked to are primarily concerned about solutions to violent crime and homelessness, improving our schools, and reducing the cost of living. Those are the same issues I’m focused on.

What actions would you take within your first 100 days to increase the state’s resilience to the impacts of climate change? What actions would you take in that same timeframe to lower the emissions that are exacerbating those impacts?

I will advocate for the legislature to reinstate the research and development tax credit, which Governor Brown and Tina Kotek eliminated, to ensure that we are promoting innovation in low-carbon technologies and resilience. I will also immediately order an end to the state’s participation in efforts to remove hydroelectric dams. Our dams provide some of the cleanest, most cost-effective energy in the world and must be protected. I will also pledge support to drought-impacted communities to ensure we are better adapting to changing conditions on the ground.

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Climate change policy is often a game of trade-offs. Removing dams could improve outcomes for endangered salmon, but it could also hurt our ability to generate clean power. Investing in infrastructure for electric vehicles may not benefit residents who can’t afford them. How do you weigh the costs and benefits of policies that may be helpful to some and harmful to others?

Oregon has always been a leader when it comes to protecting the environment and will continue to be under my administration. New environmental policies will be evaluated for their overall impact on emissions with a balancing standard which takes into consideration increased costs associated with their implementation. I’m not supportive of policies that drive up the cost of living while providing little in the way of tangible environmental benefits. Every single decision has an impact and a consequence and a tradeoff for someone else. I will not advance a climate agenda that risks exacerbating Oregon’s affordability crisis.

What do you see as your role in implementation of the environmental aspects of the Inflation Reduction Act, especially incentives to increase use of electric home heating and cooling and electric vehicles? 

To the extent the federal government has provided resources that align with Oregon’s strategic vision toward our clean energy future, I will pursue and deploy those resources as efficiently as possible. While I do not consider myself a supporter of the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, it’s my responsibility as governor to ensure that the investments that do come to Oregon serve Oregonians in a manner that is consistent with what is best for our state. Further, efforts to mandate removal of natural gas from homes is a step backward. Renewable natural gas is an energy source we should embrace. 

Your website specifically mentions cutting carbon dioxide emissions by working to more aggressively fight wildfires. How do you plan to reduce emissions in the sectors responsible for the majority of the state’s emissions, namely transportation and electricity production?

With respect to transportation, the state should continue to encourage the use of low-carbon transportation options, which will in turn reduce the share of transportation emissions. We must also commit to reducing commute times by increasing job opportunities in the communities Oregonians live in and by addressing congestion through additional lanes and investment in infrastructure. Again, we must also restore the R&D tax credits to incentivize the private sector to continue to innovate so that Oregonians continue to have access to energy that is plentiful, affordable, and reliable.

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You’ve said you would repeal Gov. Brown’s 2020 executive order addressing climate change. What would you replace it with? 

I will tear up Governor Brown’s cap-and-trade executive order on Day One. I will replace it with a commitment to work with businesses and legislative leaders to continue to balance opportunities to support a low-carbon future with the needs of Oregonians in all corners of our state to support their families and communities. I am committed to preserving our hydro-electric dams, better forest management to reduce the frequency and intensity of carbon-intense forest fires, and an accounting of the unique carbon sequestering power of our state’s working lands.

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Tina Kotek

Where does climate change rank on your list of priorities?

It’s a high priority because Oregonians treasure the clean air, clean water, and natural beauty of our state, and it is our responsibility to preserve it. It is also our responsibility to do what we can to combat climate change, which is a real and present danger that Oregonians are already experiencing firsthand. Oregon’s economy and the health of our communities require ongoing bold action to match the scale of this crisis. I understand that Oregon alone cannot solve the climate crisis, but I am committed to making sure Oregon does our part. 

Meanwhile, both Christine Drazan and Betsy Johnson are taking massive checks from big oil and corporate polluters. And they have both made it their goal to block climate change legislation.

And, as House Republican Leader, Drazan led her caucus to walk off the job to prevent the legislature from taking action on climate change. Now, Drazan is campaigning on a promise to undo efforts already in place to reduce our state’s carbon emissions.

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What actions would you take within your first 100 days to increase the state’s resilience to the impacts of climate change? What actions would you take in that same timeframe to lower the emissions that are exacerbating those impacts?

My priorities for addressing climate change and protecting our natural environment include:

  • Protect the progress we have made.

  • Decrease pollution from transportation by increasing the use of zero-emission vehicles and increasing investments to make public transit the convenient and accessible choice for more Oregonians.

  • Transition away from the use of fossil fuels like methane gas in homes and commercial buildings.

  • Increase climate resiliency for communities on the frontline of extreme weather events, including protecting people who have to work outside and supporting community-level technical assistance for small family farms and ranches.

In my first 100 days, I will direct agencies to provide a status report and recommendations for next steps to meet the above priorities and increase the state’s resilience to the impacts of climate change.

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Climate change policy is often a game of trade-offs. Removing dams could improve outcomes for endangered salmon, but it could also hurt our ability to generate clean power. Investing in infrastructure for electric vehicles may not benefit residents who can’t afford them. How do you weigh the costs and benefits of policies that may be helpful to some and harmful to others?

As governor, I won’t spend my time playing partisan games or walking off the job. I’m going to fight to get the job done.

The challenges ahead of us are real. They are serious. And they will require a clear vision and strong leadership to bring people together to find compromises that work best for the greater good.

I believe we can build the clean energy future of tomorrow while also helping communities deal with the wildfires and droughts we’re seeing today.

This shouldn’t be a partisan issue — and we will need everyone working together to solve these challenges. 

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What do you see as your role in implementation of the environmental aspects of the Inflation Reduction Act, especially incentives to increase use of electric home heating and cooling and electric vehicles? 

As governor, I will work with our federal partners to maximize the progress Oregon can make from the clean energy investments in the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, such as building out electric vehicle charging stations along highways and investing in cleaner buses and trucks.

The Inflation Reduction Act will lower energy costs for hundreds of thousands of Oregonians, invest an estimated $1.2 billion in large-scale clean power generation and storage between now and 2030, reduce air pollution, and more – but Republican Christine Drazan opposes it and would move our state backward.

Opponents of the Climate Protection Program, which you’ve said you would leave in place, have cited disproportionate costs to rural Oregonians, mostly in the form of increased fuel prices, as one of the reasons they are against the program. What would you do to make sure people outside of Oregon’s large cities aren’t bearing an unfair share of the burden?

Climate change impacts like wildfires and extreme weather are already a major threat to our way of life and have deadly consequences, like last year’s extreme heat that killed nearly 100 people. That’s why I am committed to transitioning to a clean energy economy, one that provides clean renewable energy, grows jobs – especially in rural Oregon, and helps fight the effects of climate change.  

There is no doubt that our gas prices are too high right now. But, let’s talk about why. Corporate polluters, like oil and gas companies, are taking in record profits while they increase prices at the pump for working families. Unlike my opponents who are both bank-rolled by corporate polluters, I will work with our federal partners to hold big oil accountable for price-gouging Oregonians.

I believe that we can take bold action on climate change and protect Oregonians at the same time. As governor, I will be focused on ensuring our transition to a clean energy future also brings targeted investments in good paying jobs. 

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Oregon has some of the most progressive climate policies in the nation, but critics often argue that, as a small state, our actions have little impact on total global greenhouse gas emissions. What would you say to people who believe that the costs of our climate policies aren’t worth it considering the small role Oregon plays in total global emissions?

This isn’t an either/or proposition. We can create good-paying clean energy jobs that also reduce our emissions and help us do our part to take on the climate crisis.



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