Oregon House approves 'cap and trade' legislation

After 6 hours of debate, measure goes to Senate

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - After lengthy debate, the Oregon House on Monday approved an economy-wide cap-and trade-program.
The program established under House Bill 2020 would put an overall limit on greenhouse gas emissions and auction off pollution "allowances" for each ton of carbon industries plan to emit. Only the state's largest polluters would be targeted.
Lawmakers voted 36-24 late Monday night after nearly six hours of debate, sending it to the Senate.No votes included Central Oregon lawmakers Cheri Helt, Mike McLane and Jack Zika.
The Statehouse's minority Republicans blasted the plan, saying it would raise gas prices and cause businesses to move. They also say it would hurt rural economies that depend on the industries targeted under the legislation.
Rep. Karin Power is one of the Democrats behind the bill. She says the state is behind on its emission reduction goals and must take dramatic action to respond to climate change.
Gov. Kate Brown has said she would sign the bill.
Oregon would become the second state after California to adopt a cap-and-trade program, a market-based approach to lowering the greenhouse gas emissions behind global warming.
Supporters call it the United States' most progressive climate policy. They say it not only cuts emissions but invests in transitioning the state economy and infrastructure to better prepare for more intense weather events as climate change worsens.
Under a cap-and-trade program, the state puts an overall limit on emissions and auctions off pollution permits or "allowances" for each ton of carbon industries plan to emit. Only the largest polluters are targeted.
The state aims to reduce emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
Detractors say that Oregon's program offers concessions to nearly every industry to dampen the potential financial impact.


News release from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown:

Governor Kate Brown Statement on House Passage of Climate Legislation

(Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown today applauded the progress of Oregon's cap and invest legislation, House Bill 2020. The Oregon House of Representatives voted to pass the bill.

"We see the effects of climate change in record temperatures, declining snowpack, reduced summer streamflow, water scarcity, increased wildfires, and elevated public health risks," said Governor Brown. "We have a historic opportunity to protect our children's futures by building long-term competitiveness while creating good jobs and improving access to affordable energy."

More information about today's vote and the legislation is available here and here.


News release from Oregon House Democrats;

Program to Tackle Climate Change, Invest in Clean Energy Economy Passes Oregon House

House Bill 2020 establishes cap and invest program to reduce greenhouse gases

SALEM – Historic legislation to tackle the catastrophic effects of climate change and build a better economic future for every Oregonian passed the Oregon House of Representatives today. The Oregon Climate Action Program, House Bill 2020, sets a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and creates a market-based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The climate crisis is a constant threat to our way of life, a threat that would make the planet, as we know it, uninhabitable,” said Rep. Karin Power (D-Milwaukie), a chief architect of the legislation. “We have faced great challenges before and come out stronger for them. We can’t delay any longer. If we do, we will have to face future generations and explain to them our inaction, even with all we knew. Today, we can show that economy-wide programs to transition from fossil fuels toward a clean, renewable future are possible.”  

Under the legislation, greenhouse gas emissions will be capped each year to achieve at least 45 percent below 1990 emission levels by 2035 and at least 80 percent below 1990 emission levels by 2050. In order to achieve those reductions, the state will annually reduce the greenhouse gas emissions cap and auction allowances for regulated entities to meet their compliance obligation. Under the system, polluters are required to buy an allowance for each ton of anthropogenic greenhouse gases they emit and these allowances will go down over time. Businesses can choose to continue purchasing allowances, reduce their emissions through technological innovation, or both.

The Oregon Climate Action Program creates the Climate Policy Office to oversee the cap and invest program and to fulfill the goals set forth in the legislation. The program is specifically tasked with a number of objectives and the legislature will oversee all program expenditures to achieve those aims. Those include: 

  • Reducing emission levels; 
  • Promoting greenhouse gas emissions sequestration and mitigation; 
  • Promoting adaptation and resilience by natural and working lands, fish and wildlife resources, communities and the economy, state’s infrastructure in the face of climate change and ocean acidification; and
  • Providing assistance to households, businesses, and workers impacted by climate change that allow the state to achieve greenhouse gas goals.

The revenue generated from the cap and invest program would be used to fund emission-reduction programs and help communities adapt to a low-carbon economy. At least 40 percent of program investments must benefit communities that are most impacted by climate change, including rural and coastal communities. At least 10 percent of the proceeds must benefit Federally Recognized Indian Tribes. 

“For regions already experiencing climate change, these investments can’t come soon enough,” said Rep. Pam Marsh (D-Ashland). “In my part of the state, we need money for forest management projects that will sequester carbon as we prevent and suppress wildfires. As droughts become more frequent and temperatures continue to rise, we need to upgrade and protect our drinking water and irrigation systems. And we need support from the state to buttress and diversify an economy that is exceedingly vulnerable to the impacts of smoke and fire.”  

Currently, there are 10 states with a cap and invest system of some kind, but only one other that is economy-wide like House Bill 2020. In 2009, nine northeastern states joined together to form a common carbon market through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. California runs a separate program that began in 2012 and is linked to the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia through the Western Climate Initiative. Oregon intends to join the Western Climate Initiative market. 

In Oregon, market-based approaches to reduce the effects of climate change have been proposed for over a decade. One of the earliest proposals came from Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene). 

“I am appreciative of the long conversation and hard work that has resulted in the proposal before us,” Rep. Holvey said. “I am dismayed it has taken so long to convince people that we need to start addressing this problem head on and sooner, rather than later. The costs of inaction will continue to grow, the longer we wait. We are actually experiencing some of the worst fears that we only spoke about in theory a decade ago.” 

The Oregon Climate Action Program is the product of the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction, which House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney formed in 2018. The committee held numerous hours of hearings and traveled across the state to hear from Oregonians about their views on the bill.

The bipartisan, bicameral committee included House Democrats, Rep. Power, Rep. Marsh, Rep. Ken Helm (D-Beaverton), and Rep. John Lively (D-Springfield).

“I’m now 72 years old,” Rep. Lively said on the floor as he spoke about supporting the legislation to build a brighter future for his grandchildren. “I don’t plan to go anywhere any time soon. But the truth is that I got the opportunity to live most my life without the consequences of humankind’s contributions to climate change. I got my opportunity. I want other generations to have the same opportunity.”

The legislation, which passed 36 to 24, now goes to the Oregon Senate for consideration. 


News release from Rep. Jack Zika, R-Redmond;


SALEM, Ore. – Today, the Oregon House passed the "Cap and Trade" bill, HB 2020 by a 36-24 vote with bipartisan opposition. State Representative Jack Zika today issued the following statement regarding "Cap and Trade," HB 2020.

"Cap and Trade is yet another financial hit to hardworking Oregon families. Almost all of my constituents and most Oregonians drive to work or to the store or to soccer practice, and many of them heat their homes with natural gas. An increase in gas prices and heating costs will force difficult choices and quality of life will suffer. The increase in homelessness proves that Oregon cannot afford this regressive tax."

Projections estimate Cap and Trade will increase gas prices by 22 cents per gallon from day one. According to AAA, Oregon already has the sixth highest gas prices in the country, and that's before Cap and Trade becomes law. Cap and trade will also cause natural gas prices to jump by 11% in the first year, and by 53% in 2040.  

HB 2020 modifies statewide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, requires utility, transportation, and industrial businesses to purchase carbon emission allowances and establishes a new department within Oregon Administrative Services, the Climate Policy Office. This bill does almost nothing to mitigate carbon in Oregon, a state that already produces one of the lowest emissions in the country.

Representative Zika believes that there is a better way to combat carbon emissions. 

"Oregon can mitigate its carbon emission levels by taking care of our forests," said Rep. Zika. "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that active forest management will decrease the size and intensity of wildfires and have the largest sustained carbon mitigation benefit. Forest management should be the number one priority in reducing carbon emissions."

House District 53 includes the communities of Redmond, Tumalo, Sunriver, and portions of Bend and unincorporated Deschutes County.


News release from Renew Oregon:

Clean Energy Jobs bill passes Oregon House with big support

HB 2020 now goes to the Senate for a final vote before heading to Governor Kate Brown

SALEM, Ore. -- Members of the Oregon House of Representatives voted to pass HB 2020, the Clean Energy Jobs bill, today. It was the first time in Oregon history a cap-and-invest program to reduce climate pollution has ever received a floor vote in either chamber. The bill now moves to the Senate for a floor vote.

“Today, a majority of Oregon representatives showed vision and leadership by moving the Clean Energy Jobs bill forward. Our state is poised to adopt an innovative program to guarantee reductions in climate pollution year after year, while investing millions in communities across our state to make people’s lives better, the air cleaner, and our economy stronger,” said Tera Hurst, Executive Director of Renew Oregon.

“After an intensive process, this bill is moving toward final passage with strong standards in place to invest in Oregon projects to be done by workers earning a livable wage, with adequate benefits, and with a focus on training the next generation of Oregon tradeswomen and tradesmen,” said Robert Camarillo, Executive Secretary of Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council. “I’m confident legislators have built in as many protections as possible to make the transition to a clean economy beneficial, while minimizing disruption for our current workforce.”

“The legislation moving forward today acknowledges the severe impacts of climate change on Tribal people. Oregon's Tribes have worked hard with legislators to develop an effective cap and invest program,” said Don Sampson, Climate Change Project Director at Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. “The 10% of investment funds set aside for local Tribes, a first for carbon pricing policy in North America, will bolster our communities as we seek to continue our sustainability and clean energy efforts.”

“Oregon is one step closer to becoming a national destination for cleantech investment and jobs as the Clean Energy Jobs bill passes the House. With a clean energy workforce already exceeding 55,000 and dozens of companies driving this economy, Oregon is projected to add 50,000 additional jobs thanks to investments from this program and beyond,” said Andy Wunder, Western States Advocate atE2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs).

“There’s an awakening in our state and across the country to both the severity of the climate crisis and the short timeline in which we all must act to stop the damage from becoming unthinkable,” said Doug Moore, Executive Director of Oregon League of Conservation Voters. “Today, these representatives rose to the challenge with the boldness necessary to make our state a leader and an example of how to combat the climate crisis while prioritizing those communities hit worst by it -- with investments to protect lands and water, create good-paying jobs, and reduce pollution.”


Renew Oregon is a clean energy advocacy coalition of businesses and workers, healthcare professionals and parents, farmers and ranchers, faith and community organizations, and individuals coming together to move our state away from polluting energy to a clean energy economy. We are working to create good-paying jobs for all Oregonians, protect air and water from pollution, and help families stay healthy.


News release from Partnership for Oregon Communities:

Statement on Cap-and-Trade House Vote

Salem, Ore. - Partnership for Oregon Communities released the following statement in response to today’s House vote on HB 2020B, the cap-and-trade bill:

“Despite bipartisan opposition, the House today chose to advance one of the most devastating bills for rural Oregon in our state’s history; a bill that will have lasting consequences for Oregon’s economy for generations to come. Make no mistake, the cap-and-trade program envisioned in HB 2020B is going to cost Oregonians their jobs and drive industries out of our state, strain family budgets, cripple our ability to invest in critical infrastructure and further exacerbate the urban-rural divide in our state. What’s worse, even supporters of the program have acknowledged that despite its significant costs, it offers only imperceptible environmental benefits.

“We urge the Senate to take a hard look at what is at risk if this program is adopted and consider whether the true costs outweigh the symbolic benefits.”

This statement may be attributed to Preston Mann, spokesperson for Partnership for Oregon Communities.

Partnership for Oregon Communities is a grassroots coalition committed to enacting policies that both increase the financial security of Oregonians and protections for our environment. It is comprised of farmers, employers, unions and community leaders from around the state.

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