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  • Chelsea Kaleikini

Portland Clean Energy Fund saves lives, safeguard it for our future

Updated: Feb 26

All of us should have the freedom to breathe clean air and drink clean water.

This freedom is increasingly at risk as every corner of the planet is seeing extreme weather patterns, including the people of the Pacific Northwest who have lived through record heatwaves, wildfires, and ice storms. 

In fact, around 70 people died because of a lack of air conditioning during the heat dome in the summer of 2021. Most of these deaths were elderly community members who lived alone – and all of these deaths were preventable.

In 2018, Portlanders took an innovative step when we overwhelmingly passed the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund (PCEF) to help our most vulnerable communities be more climate-resilient. No matter your age, race, income, or zip code, all of us should be prepared to live in a changing climate. 

In response to the heat wave, the Portland Clean Energy Fund quickly invested in the Heat Response program to distribute thousands of heat pumps to vulnerable households in the city — faster than the state could take action and before the next wave could take more lives. That is just one reason PCEF is vital to our future. Climate emergencies like this are increasing; PCEF should not be used as a slush fund for the special interests of politicians running for office. Every dollar must be preserved to help the most vulnerable Portlanders and neighborhoods because these disasters are not felt equally and our communities are not equally equipped to respond.

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