Secretary of State sued over clean-energy ballot measures

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Environmental advocates are suing Oregon’s Secretary of State over her rejection of two clean-energy ballot initiatives, claiming the action was without legal reasoning and constituted an abuse of power.

The Statesman Journal reports in a filing to Marion County Circuit Court Wednesday, complainants asked for an expedited review to allow Initiative Petitions 48 and 49 to continue the process that would allow them to put the measures before voters in November.

Eric Richardson, chief petitioner and executive director of NAACP Eugene/Springfield, said the actions by Secretary of State Bev Clarno and Deputy Secretary Rich Vial are unconstitutional.

An email from the newpspaer to Clarno and Vial requesting comment was not immediately returned.

The blocked initiatives would require Oregon to produce all of its electricity through renewable and carbon-free sources by Jan. 1, 2045, up from about half today. Washington, California and Nevada already have similar targets.

One of the two proposed initiatives would also require utilities to more aggressively invest in beneficial electrification programs, such as electric car charging infrastructure.

Clarno rejected the initiatives because she said they violated the single-subject provision of the Constitution, which requires that initiatives address only one subject.

In September, she rejected three forestry-related initiatives that would have sought more protections for forests waters. In that case, the Department of Justice declined to defend Clarno’s decision, leading to the Secretary of State’s Office retaining private legal counsel.

Clarno said those initiatives also violated the single-subject provision.

A Marion County judge ruled in November that Clarno acted properly in her rejections. The plaintiffs have appealed and asked for an expedited case designation.

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