NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, June 17th, 2019

VICTORY! Cap and invest bill clears Oregon State House of Representatives

It’s time to Act on Climate.

That’s the mes­sage the Ore­gon State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives sent today by giv­ing final approval to House Bill 2020ground­break­ing leg­is­la­tion that makes Ore­gon the sec­ond state in the coun­try to impose a cap on emis­sions of harm­ful air pol­lu­tants and put a price on pol­lu­tion that will raise rev­enue to facil­i­tate a just and respon­si­ble tran­si­tion to a clean ener­gy future.

“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 Kate Brown, who laud­ed the vote. “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.”

Here’s a syn­op­sis of what the bill does, writ­ten by Ore­gon House Democ­rats:

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 sys­tem HB 2020 will cre­ate is sim­i­lar to the one that Cal­i­for­nia has.

Thir­ty-six Ore­gon state rep­re­sen­ta­tives vot­ed to adopt the bill, with twen­ty-four opposed. The roll call on final pas­sage in the House was as follows:

Roll Call
HB 2020
Cap and invest
Final Pas­sage in the House of Representatives

Yeas: 36; Nays: 24

Vot­ing Aye: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Alon­so Leon, Bark­er, Bynum, Clem, Doher­ty, Evans, Fahey, Gomberg, Gorsek, Green­lick, Helm, Her­nan­dez, Holvey, Keny-Guy­er, Live­ly, Marsh, McLain, Meek, Mitchell, Nathanson, Neron, Nosse, Pilu­so, Pow­er, Prusak, Ray­field, Rear­don, Sali­nas, Sanchez, Schouten, Smith Warn­er, Soll­man, Speak­er Kotek, Wilde, Williams, Williamson

Vot­ing Nay: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Bar­reto, Boles, Bon­ham, Boshart Davis, Drazan, Find­ley, Hay­den, Helt, Leif, Lewis, McK­e­own, McLane, Near­man, Noble, Post, Reschke, Smith DB, Smith G, Sprenger, Stark, Wal­lan, Wil­son, Witt, Zika

Repub­li­cans decried the bill in harsh, hyper­bol­ic terms and tried repeat­ed­ly to kill it. They attempt­ed to send it back to com­mit­tee, delay its con­sid­er­a­tion indef­i­nite­ly, and con­tend that minor­i­ty con­sent was required to pass it. Major­i­ty Democ­rats rebuffed all of these stalling maneu­vers and passed the bill over their objections.

“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 State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Karin Pow­er (D‑Milwaukie), who played a key role in putting the leg­is­la­tion togeth­er. “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.”

“For regions already expe­ri­enc­ing cli­mate change, these invest­ments can’t come soon enough,” added State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive 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.”

To reach Gov­er­nor Kate Brown’s desk, the bill must get through the Ore­gon State Sen­ate, which won’t be sim­ple or easy. One Ore­gon Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor, Bet­sy John­son, is a cer­tain no vote, while two more Democ­rats are uncommitted.

Hard work may lie ahead to get this bill across the fin­ish line, but it’s cer­tain­ly a huge mile­stone to see this bill pass the Ore­gon House. Con­grat­u­la­tions to Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Pow­er and Speak­er Kotek on a job well done. The effort to secure a clean ener­gy future for Cas­ca­dia and the Unit­ed States continues.

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