Case Study: Portland Clean Energy Initiative

Columbia Riverkeeper works with people in dozens of communities—from rural to urban—who share the same goals: Protect the health of their families and the places they love. 

Case Study: Portland Clean Energy Initiative

Portland Clean Energy Fund logo

With the growing issue of climate change and environmental injustices, we understand that an activist can’t stand up for environmental and climate issues without also fighting for social justice, such as racial equity and basic human rights. Social and environmental issues do not happen in a vacuum. They are synonymous with each other. The poorest of countries bare the brutal brunt of our global climate crisis. In the United States, communities of color and low-income families are on the front lines of oppression and survival when it comes to these interwoven injustices.

Columbia Riverkeeper was honored to be one of the many groups to endorse and work on the Portland Clean Energy Initiative (PCEI) in 2018. This was the first-ever ballot measure created and led by people of color to fund climate justice and jobs in the United States. Large numbers of community members throughout Portland volunteered countless hours, collecting signatures on the streets, bus lines and local events. And the people won! In 2018, voters enacted a groundbreaking initiative: a one percent surcharge on the retail sales within Portland of certain large retailers to raise millions of dollars for clean energy and clean energy jobs. 

Before working for Riverkeeper our newest community organizer, Mario Mijares,  volunteered part-time for six months for PCEI. “When I first heard about this initiative, I prioritized volunteering nearly every step of this process. My favorite moment was dressing up as ‘Captain Weatherization,’ a PCEI mascot. We had lots of fun that day and our action was very effective. I am very excited to see the brilliant accomplishments in the years to come,” says Mario.