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Oregon's data center-focused emissions bill squashed by Amazon

Amazon wielded its considerable lobbying power and killed legislation that would have cut industry emissions to zero by 2040. The question is, why?

A picture of the amazon logo on the side of a glass building

Image via Shutterstock/Tada Images

Oregon is struggling to cut emissions from notoriously heavy sources such as data centers. Oregon state Rep. Pam Marsh introduced House Bill 2816, a bill whose goal was to regulate industries, specifically energy-intensive data centers with large carbon footprints, by imposing a 100 percent reduction deadline by 2040. But according to a recent Washington Post article, Amazon’s lobbyists organized opposition efforts and successfully killed the legislation.

"Amazon’s representatives were in the Capitol lobbying against the bill from the very first moment of discussion," Marsh told The Washington Post, with the lobbyists "successfully nurtur[ing] fear that [Oregon’s] energy requirements would drive away the development of data centers." 

Data centers require enormous amounts of energy to function at the level required to handle operations for international companies such as Amazon. The Seattle Times estimates such facilities use as much power as small cities.

And it’s possible that Amazon opposed the bill in an effort to preserve local jobs and accelerate growth. Rep. Bobby Levy claimed that HB 2816 would "stifle [local] growth and exacerbate [Oregon’s] geographic divide." 

This behavior flies in the face of Amazon’s push to be recognized as an industry leader fighting against the climate crisis. Its own publicly announced climate goals match HB 2816’s intended outcome, with the company’s Climate Pledge committing to net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. 

Update: An Amazon spokesperson provided GreenBiz a statement regarding the company's opposition of HB 2816: “A number of organizations, including Amazon, oppose HB2816 because the bill does not address the build-out of electric infrastructure that is needed to bring more clean energy to the grid. Building new renewable projects requires infrastructure investments in the grid and today there are hurdles in key areas like permitting and interconnection. Accelerating energy infrastructure permitting and interconnections for renewables like solar and wind would have a greater impact on reducing emissions, bringing more clean energy to the grid, and helping achieve our goal of accessing more clean energy in Oregon. We look forward to working with the State, industry, and community leaders to better enable renewable energy development in Oregon.”

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