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Brown adviser traveling to Paris climate talks

A California environmental group is picking up the tab for representatives from Oregon and other states to attend.

By Hillary Borrud

Capital Bureau

Published on November 24, 2015 7:54PM

Last changed on November 24, 2015 7:56PM


SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown’s energy policy adviser, Ruchi Sadhir, will travel to Paris next week as part of a delegation from California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois and Tennessee at the international climate talks in Paris.

The trip is being paid for by a California-based environmental organization that operates the largest accredited greenhouse gas offset registry for the California cap-and-trade program.

The focus of the United Nations summit is to work on a new international agreement between nations to address climate change. Individual states are not involved in the talks. Sadhir did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon about what she hopes to achieve during the trip. However, Chris Pair, Brown’s press secretary, said it is important for Oregon to have a “seat at the table” during the talks.

“Gov. Brown believes Oregon’s unique and special way of life is being threatened by climate change,” Pair wrote in an emailed statement. “Oregon is already experiencing the impacts of increased drought, devastating forest fires, fish die-offs from increased water temperature, and less snowpack that leads to less water supply. Future generations will rightly judge the morality and leadership of this generation not by the fact of climate change, but how we responded. Ruchi’s participation in the world climate conference in Paris is essential to ensuring that Oregonians have a seat at the table as the world decides how to mitigate climate change and adapt to the challenges climate change brings.”

Oregon taxpayers will not pick up the tab for the trip. Rather, the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Climate Action Reserve will pay for Sadhir’s travel, just as the group did for California Gov. Jerry Brown and other members of the delegation.

Climate Action Reserve advocates “market-based polices and solutions” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the group is involved in registering carbon offset projects through California’s cap-and-trade program. In California, Gov. Jerry Brown has been promoting non-binding agreements between cities, states and provinces to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown appointed Sadhir in September to replace energy policy adviser Margi Hoffman, who had also served as former Gov. John Kitzhaber’s energy adviser. Sadhir previously worked as a senior policy adviser at the Oregon Public Utility Commission.

Sadhir is the only member of the delegation from Oregon, according to Jennifer Weiss, a spokeswoman for Climate Action Reserve. Weiss wrote in an email that the delegation “is largely California state legislators and government officials but also includes officials from a few other states, environmental nonprofit representatives and sponsors.”

The Los Angeles Times has reported that billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer will be part of the group traveling to Paris, as well as former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Weiss declined to reveal on Tuesday how much the group will pay for Sadhir’s trip to Paris, but wrote in email that “We will also be providing gift reporting letters to the government officials that we are paying for and those will be reported in their (California Fair Political Practices Commission) filings.”

Weiss also wrote that the group annually discloses all of its funding sources to the IRS in tax filings.

Oregon’s government ethics law allows nonprofits to pay for public officials’ expenses “for attendance at a convention, fact-finding mission or trip, conference or other meeting if the public official is scheduled to deliver a speech, make a presentation, participate on a panel or represent state government,” according to the statute.

The Paris conference begins Nov. 30 and runs through Dec. 11. Sadhir will depart for Paris on Dec. 5, Pair said.



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