Graham Zimmerman: It’s Time to Pass The Clean Energy Jobs Bill


Professional alpinist and POW Alliance member Graham Zimmerman talks about his support for the Clean Energy Jobs bill in Oregon. Get in contact with your OR senators today and tell them to VOTE YES on HB 2020.

This letter to the editor, found here, originally appeared in the Source Weekly. 

Graham Zimmerman: It’s Time to Pass The Clean Energy Jobs Bill

When debating whether to climb an ice pillar, they say you shouldn’t climb it if you don’t feel safe standing under it. You have to decide if it can bear your weight and repeated strikes from your crampons and ice axes. Sometimes you can forge ahead, and sometimes you have to climb a different route.

As a professional climber, I’ve spent the majority of my life exploring mountain environments. From first ascents in Alaska and Patagonia to the remote Karakoram in Pakistan, I’ve witnessed the impacts of a changing climate first hand.

Between my academic background in glaciology and professional athletic career which has resulted in grants, awards and a role on the board of the American Alpine Club, I can say with confidence that I don’t feel safe standing beneath the climate crisis. I don’t believe our climate can handle the weight and repeated strikes of our impacts and emissions. We can’t keep forging ahead, just hoping it won’t collapse. We have to find a different route.

I see The Clean Energy Jobs Bill (House Bill 2020) as the new route to address the climate crisis. Not only does it set Oregon on track to lead the nation in climate solutions, but it also helps to grow our economy with a focus on a just transition and support for local communities. As an alpinist and a small business owner in Bend, I urge our elected officials to support this bill.

In my line of work, I have to pay close attention to the conditions around me. My life depends on it. Setting an ice axe into a melting ice pillar for the short-term thrill of making an ascent is never worth the long-term consequences of that risky decision. If I see something dangerous in the mountains (and I do more and more with the receding glaciers and diminishing snowpack) I report back to my community, giving them the critical information and facts to make the best decisions possible, with no hidden agendas.

I would never send someone into the mountains with bad information for self-motivated purposes and, in the same way, I expect my elected officials not to send their constituents into bad policies because of personal gain. This only puts everyone in peril.

The reality is that we’re all standing under the pillar of the climate crisis and it’s unstable. We have to find a different route if we’re going to make it out. Oregon’s coasts are flooding and eroding, the Cascades are facing unprecedented wildfire threat, our snowpack is diminishing and the rivers are warming, all because of climate change. HB 2020 is our chance to protect Oregon’s $16.4 billion outdoor recreation economy and the 172,000 Oregonians it employs by asking polluters to pay a price for climate pollution and reinvest those funds into our local communities. This is our new route to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

Graham Zimmerman is an alpinist, Oregon business owner and Alliance member of Protect Our Winters.