Fossil fuel risk bond programs underway in Oregon and Washington, now part of national legislation

Center for Sustainable Economy’s (CSE) work on fossil fuel risk bond programs (FFRB) – a signature ‘polluter pays’ project on fossil fuel infrastructure that was launched about 2 years ago — would provide a major deterrent for building new fossil fuel infrastructure as well as incentives to retire existing infrastructure early in any jurisdiction that adopts it.  

2019 and 2020 brought major national, regional and local victories getting FFRB programs off the ground. The City of Portland, Multnomah County, and King County all began implementing Phase I of the FFRB – the risk assessment phase – to quantify the extent of taxpayer liabilities for accidents, spills, and dismantling of fossil fuel infrastructure. Inspired by these successes, members of the Washington State Legislature are now drafting legislation to scale these programs up to the state level.

Sightline Institute, 350 Seattle, 350PDX and others have partnered with CSE and our grassroots supporters to make this happen. Similar legislation is now in the works in Congress by Rep. Jamie Raskin. Both the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren presidential campaigns added FFRB policies to their presidential campaign platforms (thanks to lobbying from CSE board member, Anthony Rogers-Wright) and are now in a position to encourage the Biden Administration to adopt them.

Local officials in Vancouver, WA, Chicago, Illinois, and Contra Costa County, California are also considering getting FFRB programs going. All these successes are a clear indication that the concept is no longer just a good policy idea, but a reality quickly gaining traction on the ground.

This is an innovative polluter pay policy that can and is being implemented at the local, state, and federal level. Among the national groups most interested in collaborating with us right now are NRDC and 350.

Daphne Wysham, Climate Justice Fellow, Center for Sustainable Economy (503) 657-7336 office (503) 310-7042 Skype ID: daphne.wysham Twitter: @daphnewysham