Skip to content (press enter)


Oregon Legislature Passes Key Ocean Bills on Climate and Undersea Cables

Surfrider Foundation is celebrating the success of two key legislative victories this session for Oregon's ocean and coast. Following federal fiscal reinforcements at the 11th hour of the legislative session, Oregon's Ways and Means Committees kicked back into overdrive passing dozens and dozens of policy bills during the final week of the state's session, including two key ocean bills that were the centerpiece of Surfrider statewide campaigns this year: HB 3114, supporting Oregon's Ocean Science Trust and critical climate monitoring and adaptation investments for our ocean; and HB 2603, strengthened policies for coordinating, siting and planning for undersea cables.

Senator Arnie Roblan, original sponsor and leader on Oregon's Ocean Science Trust in front of the Oregon Capitol. Senator Roblan retired last year, but is due much credit for his leadership in founding the Oregon Ocean Science Trust.

While many superlatives will be shared about Oregon's 2021 legislative session, those coming out of our Surfrider Foundation chapters and staff in Oregon were some of the most unexpected. We filed more policy concepts and bills this legislative session than ever before (3 Ocean Protection, 2 Beach Preservation and 5 Plastic Pollution Bills). We found alliance with many new environmental, racial and social justice partners, supporting and testifying on many of their lead issues. The digital legislative session provided for more volunteers participating and testifying in the legislative process than ever before. And most unexpectedly, in the midst of so many other priorities from pandemic and wildfire recovery, it was remarkable we pushed Surfrider's Oregon Ocean Climate Action Campaign (via HB 3114) and Protect Oregon's Seafloor Campaign (HB 2603) across the finish line.

Oregon Ocean Climate Action

First across the finish line at the tail end of the session was HB 3114, a key effort from Surfrider Foundation for the better part of 8 years now! Since its establishment in 2013, Surfrider has been a steady advocate for Oregon's Ocean Science Trust (OOST), to promote and support state prioritized, peer-reviewed science for informing key ocean management decisions; however, Oregon's legislature had woefully never funded it. After three failed years in a row, HB 3114 successfully passed this year initiating funding for the OOST and several other key ocean science efforts related to climate change, marine reserves and estuaries. The bill will fund projects through a competitive grant process of the Trust, prioritizing key science and research addressing climate issues like ocean acidification and hypoxia - problematic issues for Oregon's ocean resources directly related to excess carbon in the atmosphere. Learn more on our campaign page.

An Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife volunteer holds a large Yelloweye Rockfish, as part of a catch and release study of the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve (Port Orford, OR). Understanding various species resiliency and monitoring climate impacts like ocean acidification in Oregon's marine reserves is a focal point of House Bill 3114 and Oregon's Ocean Science Trust. Photo: ODFW

Protect Oregon's Seafloor

And the final day of session the Oregon legislature passed HB 2603 to improve policies and planning for undersea cables and better protect Oregon's seafloor and beaches. Just over a year ago an undersea fiber-optic cable contractor for Facebook had an accident while performing horizontal drilling beneath Oregon's seafloor and beach near Pacific City, Oregon. A project that would typically go down with little complications, community impacts or environmental problems, the "Jupiter" submarine cable project's landing site could best be described as a series of unfortunate events that shined an important light on some needed planning and policy improvements for Oregon's seafloor and beaches. From required bonding and policies on abandonment of infrastructure on and under the seafloor to land use coordination in the siting of cables under our beaches and within coastal communities, there is much that can be improved upon to better protect Oregon's coastal resources and coordinate efforts.  After all, the legislature is looking to plan in our oceans for potential renewable energy, which will require siting of future cables and landings on Oregon's shore. Learn more on our campaign page.

Deep corals photographed from Oceana's ROV are likely to be impacted heavily by ocean acidification Deep corals photographed off Oregon's coast like these are likely to be impacted by ocean acidification. These are special seafloor places that require monitoring and planning for protection. Photo: Oceana