Alanna Mayham

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) — Oregon broke with disclosure requirements when it implemented plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Oregon Court of Appeals determined Wednesday, invalidating the state's 2021 Climate Protection Program.

“Specifically, we agree that the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC), in adopting the CPP rules, did not comply with the heightened disclosure requirements applicable to it when it adopts rules that apply to entities required to obtain Title V permits under the federal Clean Air Act (Title V sources),” Judge Jacqueline Kamins wrote in the order.

The three petitions underlying the order came from numerous businesses across various industries, including Northwest Natural Gas Company, Cascade Natural Gas Corporation, Oregon Farm Bureau Federation and Western States Petroleum Association in 2022, challenging rules adopted under an aggressive Oregon Department of Environmental Quality program. The department's policy and rulemaking board, the Environmental Quality Commission, is also named as a defendant.

With the measure Oregon Governor Kate Brown aimed to reduce 90% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions from fuel and natural gas companies by 2050. Regulators in 2022 capped fuel suppliers at one ton of greenhouse gas emissions per year — an amount that would slowly decline over time.

Under the program a local nonprofit, Seeding Justice, implemented its Community Climate Investment program, which allowed fuel companies to avoid reducing their annual emissions by purchasing carbon credits that funded environmental justice projects in underserved communities.

Opponents argued that the rules would decrease the amount of fuel available in Oregon and increase costs. They also argued that Oregon failed to make required disclosures to companies that hold federal industrial air pollution permits explaining why the limits exceed federal rules under the Clean Air Act and whether its agencies considered other alternatives.

The state’s Department of Environmental Quality said it would work with attorneys from the Oregon Department of Justice to determine the next steps.

"The Climate Protection Program is integral to Oregon's work to reduce greenhouse emissions, address climate change and benefit the most impacted communities," said department spokesperson Lauren Wirtis in a statement. "DEQ is confident the Environmental Quality Commission has authority to adopt and enforce the Climate Protection Program, and this does not deter us from developing climate programs that move Oregon towards meeting its climate goals."

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