They will beat their swords into plowshares
and spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
nor will they learn war anymore.
Everyone will sit under their own vine
and beneath their own fig tree,
with none to terrify them.

                         -Micah 4:3-4

Since the beginning of January, work on our Net Zero house has been super intense. Much of the work has been ours to do. Sometimes it’s been hard not to get wrapped up in the illusion that it’s all about us. I mean, there have been some challenges…you know, like SUCKING AT FLOORS! Then there was the Rain Tank Debacle. The day after we set our three 3,000 gallon tanks in place and got them hooked up with big pipes in trenches to the house, the city inspector told us we had to move them! Now they tell us we can’t use the rainwater for drinking and household use. The codes won’t allow it. We will have to figure out how to change the codes and that’s a conversation for another day.
The point is, humus happens and this house thing is not all about us and whenever it begins to seem like it is…well, that’s a sign we have to step away from the new house smell for awhile and get our minds right.
One of the ways I did that in February was at the State Legislature in Salem, advocating for what has become the Healthy Climate Bill (SB 1574). When I started working on this legislation a year ago, I was drawn to it because it was the most comprehensive public policy approach to climate justice I had ever seen, a strategy put in place recent years by 10 states and 3 Canadian Provinces where it is creating the kind of revenue needed to retool our economies, in a swords-to-plowshares kind of way, from ones of violence to ones of vitality for all of God’s Creation.
In short, the Healthy Cimate Bill creates a Cap and Investment strategy to meet the emissions goals Oregon put into law in 2007. It is:

  1. A legally binding emission cap, lowered every 3 years to meet the goals:
    • 10% below 1990 emissions by 2020
    • 75% below 1990 emissions by 2050
  2. 44 businesses who emit 85% of Oregon’s emissions would participate.
  3. These would receive allowances:
    • One allowance is a permit to emit 1 Ton CO2/year:
    • Allowances available ratcheted down every 3 years to meet goals
  4. At quarterly auctions, businesses would buy and sell allowances.
  5. With cap reductions & fewer allowances available, the price of allowances at auction increases. So:
    • Businesses choose to trade for more allowances at the higher price
    • Or they become more energy efficient, reducing emissions
    • Those producing emissions lower than allowed may sell their surplus allowances
  6. Proceeds from auction sales go into three funds for investment in:
    • Conservation, renewable energy and research
    • Marginalized, low income & rural communities most vulnerable to climate change
    • Transportation options and opportunities

Of course this isn’t exactly the grandiose “everyone sitting under their own vine and fig tree” community Micah dreams of, but I think this legislation helps us begin to glimpse this New Economy from a distance.
As we gathered on our day of advocacy for this Bill, I was asked by Oregon Interfaith Power and Light to share a brief reflection which is now on YouTube and I pass it on to help us sustain our hope.

It also helped our perspective to attend the high school dance team competition where we witnessed our own Amy Wood in action with the students of the only special needs dance team in the State, as she helped one of our Children of God with his flag routine. Believe me, it’s not all about us!!!!

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