NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional 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
06/17/2019

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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