City of Eugene voters have 20 more days to sign a petition that would refer to a public vote, the issue of banning natural gas and other fossil fuels in new homes starting this year.
The Eugene City Council has spent much of the past 18-months debating as to whether new homes, commercial buildings, and existing buildings should reduce the use of natural gas or other fossil fuels to be in alignment with stated climate policy goals. In its planning efforts, the City found that 30% of local emissions come from buildings, primarily from heating and cooling air and water ( by comparison over half of emissions come from the use of cars and other transportation).
After a murky and contentious year and a half of discussions and advocacy, the Eugene City Council held a public meeting on February 6th for the stated reason of deciding whether or not this issue should be decided by the voters, or decided by Council. A 2022 survey by the Eugene Chamber found that over 90% of respondents, who both agreed and disagreed with Council’s approach to climate action, believed the issue should go to the voters. In a 3-5 vote, the majority of councilors voted not to send the issue to the voters.
In an unexpected follow up to this vote, a Eugene City Councilor motioned and Eugene City Councilors voted 5-3 to pass the ordinance that night banning gas in new, low-rise residential buildings. Councilors Mike Clark, Randy Groves and Greg Evans were the three councilors that voted in support of sending the issue to the voters, and ultimately voted to oppose the passing of the ordinance as well.
In response, three Eugene residents, backed by a coalition of community members and organizations, (http://eugeneresidentsforenergychoice.com/) filed a petition to refer the ordinance to the ballot for voters to make the final decision. In order for the ordinance to qualify to be placed on the ballot, roughly 6,500 signatures must first be collected from registered Eugene voters. The Eugene Chamber has been a key member of the coalition opposing this ordinance and is working to inform members and citizens of the opportunity to sign the petition to help give voters the opportunity to weigh in on this issue.
A press conference was held on Monday, February 20th to address this issue, held by Eugene for Energy Choice. Brittany Quick-Warner, Eugene Chamber CEO and President, said at this press conference: “Right now, this community does not trust the City Council to make this kind of decision on their behalf – Council has a lot of work to do”, she says, “to rebuild trust in this community, so they [the community] can trust their councilors to make this kind of decision.That work needs to be done before we keep creating and voting on policies like this, which we have seen via surveys and polling data, most of the community doesn’t want to see this happen.”
At the time of this publishing, with 20 days left to gather the 6,500 needed signatures, the petition has garnered 6,060 signatures. This petition will be turned in March 10th and if validated by Lane County Elections, will refer this issue to the voters most likely in November 2023.
This story is developing and and will be updated.
To sign the petition
If you are interested in signing the petition, you may come down to the Eugene Chamber at 1401 Willamette Street between Tuesday – Thursday from 10am-4pm. There are only 20 days remaining to collect signatures, so be sure to make it down soon if you are interested.