SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Dozens of industrial trucks drove laps around the state Capitol on Wednesday to protest two Oregon climate bills truckers say will put them out of business.
Wednesday's protest came as a key legislative panel signed off on a proposed cap and trade program to reduce the greenhouse gases behind climate change. Lawmakers will vote on the bill later this month.
Gregg Budge owns his own trucking company in Vernonia, around 40 miles northwest of Portland. He says that cap and trade plus another bill aimed at phasing out old diesel engines will raise prices to the point that he can't do business.
But some labor unions have come out in favor of cap and trade, saying that the bill has strong labor protections and even provides unemployment benefits for workers laid off in response to this legislation.
Lawmakers only have until the end of June to approve both cap and trade and diesel regulations and finish their business in Salem for the session.
News release from Gov. Kate Brown:
Oregon's Climate Legislation Heads to a House Vote
(Salem, OR) — Oregon's climate legislation, HB 2020, passed out of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means today and is headed to the House floor for a vote. Oregon is on the cusp of becoming the second state in the nation to adopt an economy-wide carbon market to reduce greenhouse gases.
"Climate change threatens our communities, our economy, our ecosystems, and our way of life in Oregon. We have an enormous opportunity to forge a new path on state-level programs to address this crisis. Oregon can be the log that breaks the jam nationally in creating a tailored statewide program that can meet science-based emissions reduction goals while growing the economy and investing in clean energy solutions, rural and coastal communities, and impacted communities," said Governor Kate Brown. "Future generations here in Oregon, and across the U.S., deserve us to not just think about their future, but to fight to protect it. I look forward to signing this landmark legislation later this month."
News release from state Sens. Dennis Linthicum and Kim Thatcher:
For no environmental gain, cap and trade jeopardizes Oregonians’ livelihoods
SALEM, Ore.—Democrats in the supermajority are pushing a proposal dubbed “Clean Energy Jobs” or Oregon’s “Green New Deal.” Proponents of the bill are willing to sacrifice economic growth in agriculture and industry sectors, and it will cut jobs for an environmental policy that is not worth the cost. Senate Republican Office Policy Analyst Justin Brecht explained in a social media post that the proposal ultimately puts our state on the wrong path.
“Democrats are about to lock our children into a legally binding contract they will not be able to change - long after we are dead. Cap and Trade is literally giving up your right to change the course of our states destiny. It locks us into something we will not be able to change just like PERS. In the committees for this bill, the Democrats acknowledged they will enter into binding contracts with other states and countries, that is a fact easily accessible and on public record. It's not ‘possible’ or even 'probable,' it is a fact they have already acknowledged they will absolutely do. They even said who they will make the contract with between the states and countries: they will do it through the 'Western Climate Initiative.' If this passes, it will be left to the unelected bureaucrats to make binding contracts on behalf of our children that are not even born yet for the next 30 years. They are doing this under the name of 'clean energy jobs' and the name could not be further from the truth,” Brecht wrote.
Senate Republican Whip Dennis Linthicum, R-Klamath Falls, and state Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, released the following joint statement on the supermajority’s push for cap and trade, House Bill 2020:
“We must not allow this bill to pass. It will kill jobs, it will hurt families, businesses and employees, and it will incur extreme costs without providing benefit to the environment. We stand with the people who oppose cap and trade and will be strong ‘no’ votes on House Bill 2020.”
News release from Oregon House Republican Office:
Democrats ram Cap-and-Trade legislation through Ways and Means
Common sense Republican amendments are swept aside in party-line vote
SALEM, Oregon – Today, every Democrat on the Joint Ways and Means Committee voted to advance the job-killing legislation known as “Cap and Trade,” House Bill 2020.
Democrats rejected common sense amendments that would’ve allowed Oregon to reduce its carbon emissions at a price workers and their families could afford. Now, the supermajority is poised to unleash the most onerous and debilitating scheme ever passed by an Oregon Legislative Assembly.
“At every turn, from pre-session negotiations and public hearings to amendments that would have benefited working Oregonians, the Democrat Leadership has made it clear their agenda is more important than the well-being of thousands of workers whose employment is now in jeopardy,” said House Republican Leader Carl Wilson (R-Grants Pass).
What Democrats did today is unconscionable, pulling one of the most respected legislators in the Capitol from Ways and Means. Betsy Johnson, a senator who understands the devastating impacts Cap and Trade will have on her community and others, was “excused” from voting because Democrats didn’t like the optics of a party member voting their conscience, and against the bill. Such a move makes a mockery of our legislative process in representing all the people of Oregon. It’s no wonder Oregonians think so little of their state government.
Already, wood products plants in St. Helens and Coos Bay have announced they’re closing. Other firms have indicated the costs of Cap and Trade would force them to cut workers or move their operations out of state. If their job is still there, workers will pay much higher prices at the fuel pump and higher prices at the store.
“The Democrats in today's Ways and Means meeting voted for a bill that will devastate workers and communities across Oregon. Democrats own this,” Wilson said.
News release from Partnership for Oregon Communities:
Salem, Ore. - Partnership for Oregon Communities released the following statement after the Joint Committee on Ways and Means approved the cap-and-trade bill and advanced the legislation to a vote in the House:
“Today, despite concerns from members of both parties and an outpouring of opposition from everyday Oregonians, lawmakers chose to advance a broken bill that has the potential to devastate our state’s economy. If the current version of this legislation becomes law, jobs will be lost, the cost of basic necessities will rise and global emissions may very well increase as industries relocate to jurisdictions with less stringent regulations.
“HB 2020 is a disaster for Oregon, plain and simple. We urge lawmakers to consider alternative proposals that would establish a comprehensive cap-and-trade program while minimizing the risk of economic harm.”
This statement may be attributed to Preston Mann, spokesperson for the Partnership for Oregon Communities.