Saturday, February 22, 2020
Feb. 22, 2020

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Oregon carbon gas cap-and-trade bill headed for Senate vote

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A sweeping bill capping carbon emissions in Oregon is headed to the Senate floor for a vote.

The Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources adopted an amendment to Senate Bill 1530 Thursday, before voting to move the bill.

It will first go to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means and could come to the Senate floor by the middle of next week.

The compromise marks a decade of work by Democrats to pass a carbon cap. Republicans, however, haven’t ruled out a walkout to deny the Senate a quorum, which derailed a similar bill last year.

The amendment changes the geographic phase-in for transportation fuels, exempting Curry and Coos counties, as well as Bend and Klamath Falls, until 2028. It makes technical fixes and incorporates some more minor amendments suggested by Republicans.

The bill’s supporters and opponents held competing rallies over the past week drawing thousands of people to the Capitol steps.

In a statement after the vote, Tera Hurst, executive director of Renew Oregon, said the clean-energy coalition was encouraged to see the bill pass out of committee.

“At the same time, we’re disappointed to see the clean air protections and investments continue to slip backward in this amended version,” Hurst said. “Those who have delayed this bill for years continue to work in ideas from polluting industry.

“Even still, this is a good step toward meaningful climate action, which we’ll continue to push for on behalf of a vast majority of Oregonians who want to see it happen now,” she said.

Opponents said the bill was rushed and the process lacked transparency.

“The new amendment includes more than a dozen new provisions. Introducing such sweeping changes with so little time for lawmakers and the public to review them and to provide feedback on them is a disservice to the people of Oregon,” Partnership for Oregon Communities said in a statement.

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