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Oregon AFL-CIO & Environmental Advocates Applaud Passage of Offshore Wind Labor Standards Legislation

Before ending the 2024 legislative session, state lawmakers passed House Bill 4080 last week, supporting state agency work on offshore wind, requiring robust public engagement and strong labor standards for any future development.

The legislation represents a common ground approach where a diverse coalition of advocates agreed that it should be the policy of the state to develop an offshore wind roadmap that engages diverse stakeholders and considers and analyzes all potential impacts, while exploring responsible approaches, and/or exit ramps, to development and localizing benefits. House Bill 4080 will help shape that process by: 

  • Directing the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) to develop an Offshore Wind Roadmap to support Oregon’s goals and policies related to communities, economic opportunity, protection of Tribal resources, offshore wind workforce development, environmental protection, and state energy and climate objectives. 

  • Requiring strong labor standards that align with federal directives and previous Oregon bills like House Bill 2021 on renewable energy projects.

  • Ensuring coastal communities and current ocean users like commercial fishermen and seafood processors have an authentic seat at the table  

“We’re so proud to be a part of the coalition of Labor, environmental groups, fisheries and developers to get House Bill 4080 across the finish line during the 2024 session,” said Graham Trainor, President of the Oregon AFL-CIO.  “As the Oregon economy shifts toward greener energy sources, it is essential that the workers are protected every step of the way.  House Bill 4080 ensures strong labor standards for construction, operations, maintenance and manufacturing jobs including the highest level of worker training and earn-as-you-learn apprenticeships, living wages, and family supporting healthcare.  This bill is an example of how Oregon Labor can provide a strong voice for all working people, as well as the communities in which they live and work.”

If offshore wind development comes to Oregon, it could create several thousand new jobs in industries spanning construction, operations, maintenance, and more. However, for coalition advocates it’s important that any approach to offshore wind does not displace or negatively impact businesses and workers in the fishing, retail, and tourism industry nor permanently impact ocean sea life.

“Oregon has an incredible opportunity to further our decarbonization goals through offshore wind,” said Nicole Hughes, director of Renewable Northwest. “But how we pursue this opportunity matters, and House Bill 4080 establishes a roadmap to explore offshore wind in a thoughtful, transparent, and inclusive manner. That means soliciting robust public feedback, and it means engaging with Tribes and other impacted communities and ensuring that they benefit from any investment in offshore wind. I want to thank the legislature for their work to create a more robust, more inclusive offshore wind process.”

“While offshore wind may play a role in Oregon’s transition to clean energy, there are a lot of unknowns about potential impacts to fisheries and the marine environment,” said Heather Mann, Director of the Midwater Trawlers Association.  “The Oregon Roadmap is the only way to ensure all voices are heard and that existing commercial fishing-related jobs are not replaced with offshore wind jobs.  Oregon’s fishing industry supports the Roadmap approach and is grateful for the passage of House Bill 4080.”

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has identified two potential areas within which offshore wind can be developed - one area off the coast of Coos Bay and another area off the coast of Brookings.  With the passing of House Bill 4080, Oregon agencies will have the funding needed to ensure the process is consistent with Oregon values and includes strong stakeholder participation. 

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