Washington and Oregon lawmakers want to end their legislative sessions; however, accounting for the costs of carbon emissions is a major roadblock.
In Salem, Ore., rural Republican senators are boycotting the session and thereby denying majority Democrats a quorum to vote on a “cap and trade” bill. The measure calls for an 80 percent state reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050. The system would be similar to programs in California and some Canadian provinces.
The state would set a cap on total greenhouse gas emissions. Oregon’s largest 100 industries are targeted. They would be required to buy pollution permits to cover their emissions. That includes a variety of large manufacturers, paper mills, fuel distributors and utilities.
Bill opponents say those companies, if they continue to operate in Oregon, are then forced to pass increased costs to consumers including farmers, shippers, loggers, fire and police departments, hospitals and schools. Jenny Dresler of the Oregon Farm Bureau estimates cap and trade would drive up annual fuel costs for farmers between $1,000 and $3,000.
In Olympia, the adjournment deadline is March 12. Democrats in the House have passed what is called a low-carbon fuel standard. It is awaiting action in the Senate.