It’s Monday, July 30, and Portland voters will decide whether big corporations should pay for clean energy.

Campaign for the Portland Clean Energy Fund

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A new ballot initiative in Portland would raise $30 million a year for clean energy through a tax on giant retailers.

The campaign for the Portland Clean Energy Fund is led by groups representing communities of color and grassroots environmental organizations. “It’s groundbreaking,” says Jenny Lee, advocacy director at the Coalition of Communities of Color, an organization spearheading the measure. “It’s the first environmental or climate initiative, as far as we know, that’s been led by organizations of color in Oregon.”

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The money generated by the fund would be directed toward renewable energy and energy efficiency projects; clean-energy jobs training that prioritizes women, people of color, and people with disabilities; greenhouse gas sequestration programs; and a “future innovation” fund.

The campaign officially qualified for the November ballot on Friday after gathering 60,000 signatures from Portland voters (it only needed 34,000.) Lee says the volume of signatures speaks to the public enthusiasm for the measure, which would place a 1 percent charge on mega-retailers on revenue from Portland sales, excluding groceries and medicine.

So who would be paying up? We’re talking Wells Fargo, Apple, Comcast, and Banana Republic — companies that make over $1 billion in revenue a year and over $500,000 in Portland alone.

Will Portlandians decide to make big companies contribute to the green revolution? Time will tell. Read more about the effort here.

Kate Yoder

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