As the Oregon Legislature takes up a renewed version of the Cap and Trade legislation, those concerned about the environmental proposal to reduce green house gas emissions are voicing their opinions at rallies at the state capitol building in Salem. Others are testifying as legislative committees begin to review the latest version of the Cap and Trade legislation.
In St. Helens, South County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chrissy Marquardt said they are keeping a close watch with what happens with Cap and Trade at the Oregon Legislature.
“The Oregon State Chamber of Commerce has issued a statement against Cap and Trade because it would impact small businesses due to the tax on fuel emissions,” she said.
The South Columbia County Chamber offers legislative updates to its members through the Chamber’s newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, visit southcolumbiacountychamber.org, or go to the Chamber’s Facebook page.
St. Helens city officials said they are taking a “wait and see” approach to the Cap and Trade debate.
The City’s Government Affairs and Project Support Specialist Racheal Barry said it’s too soon to forecast any negative impact to St. Helens, but she said the bill, as presented, has wide-ranging impacts.
“It changes our statewide emissions reduction goals and the oversight structure for measuring and achieving these targets,” Barry said. “St. Helens is not a regulated entity under the bill definitions as we are not a utility, do not generate power, and in the course of providing public services, we do not engage in emissions-intensive trade-exposed processes.”
Barry said the City would have “more to say” when a final bill is enacted by the legislature.
“The League of Oregon Cities has been a part of the conversation around greenhouse gas reduction and we will continue to work with cities across the state to set and meet reasonable reduction targets,” Barry said.
According to Jim McCauley, Oregon League of Cities Legislative Director, which represents all 241 cities in Oregon adopted principles in 2019 on carbon to help guide the League’s position on specific aspects of the Cap and Trade policy discussion, including transportation fuels and public contracting provisions.
“Our primary focus has been on the fuel related costs and impacts to public contracting on local governments across Oregon and its potential impact on a $5.3 billion transportation investment package passed during the 2017 session,” McCauley said.
In Rural areas of Columbia County, such as Clatskanie, there is heightened fear about the impact of the Cap and Trade legislation.
“My concern with Cap and Trade is what effect it will have on industry and more locally, the timber and timber products and paper industry,” Clatskanie City Manager Greg Hickleman said.
The new environmental regulations would restrict industrial competition and the ability to operate cost-effectively, and that, Hinkelman said, would mean those businesses will leave and there will be a cascade effect.
“Local utilities will be affected, most likely resulting in higher rates, and there will be an impact on the secondary businesses such as restaurants, stores and other small businesses,” he said. “Cap legislation, should it be enacted forcing industry to close, would propel us into an instant economic depression that would be catastrophic for the town and area. If we have no jobs, people will leave and the town will die.”
The Clatskanie Chamber of Commerce also issued an alert to area businesses concerning the Cap and Trade legislation.
"We need you to take a stand against harmful legislation that raises taxes and costs and kills local jobs," the alert states.
The Chamber is urging members to contact their lawmakers concerning Senate Bill 1530 on Cap and Trade.
Former Clatskanie Mayor Diane Pohl worries that the Cap and Trade legislation would force closure of the Wauna Mill and would touch everyone in the community.
“Everything you purchase that has to be trucked to stores and outlets will cost more because of the cost of distribution,” she said. “This will cause hardships for our most vulnerable in our communities. This is the kind of destruction and hardship rural Oregon will face if this ill-written and ill-researched legislation passes.”
According to Pohl, science does not support such drastic measures.
“And to fast track this during the 31 day session is madness,” she said. “There is no emergency, yet they added the emergency clause so voters can't refer it to a vote.”
But the Portland-based group Renew Oregon argues that time is of essence.
“We are working to transition away from dirty, polluting energy to a clean, energy-efficient economy,” according to the group’s online mission statement.
Renew Oregon and other supporters of the Cap and Trade legislation said the new version of the bill includes a geographic rollout that would protect rural communities from higher gasoline prices.
Oregon Gov. Brown said the climate policy bill is needed now.
"We know that, if left unchecked, climate change will have devastating effects on all that we hold dear,” Brown told the City Club of Portland in late January. “Doing nothing is not an option. I am committed to crafting climate policy that protects our environment and also grows our economy. In Oregon, we can do both."
Read the latest version of the Cap and Trade legislation at:
On Monday, Feb. 10, Timber Unity, an Oregon timber industry support group, announced an alternative four-point plan that includes:
- Developing and executing a right-of-way carbon sink plan to reduce carbon emissions at the source.
- Reducing road miles through public procurement and asset management
- Investing in recycling infrastructure
- Accelerating depreciation on fleet and business upgrades while holding small business harmless
See the entire Timber Unity plan attached and follow this developing story at thechiefnews.com. We’ll also provide updates in the Friday print version of The Chief.