Cap-and-Trade Legislation Advances in Oregon

SALEM, Ore. (CN) – The nation’s second statewide cap-and-trade plan, intended to ratchet down carbon emissions over the next 30 years, passed Monday in Oregon’s House of Representatives.

House Bill 2020 would curb the state’s emissions to 45% below 1990 levels by 2035 and, by 2050, to just 20% of the emissions released in 1990.

Starting in 2021, Oregon’s cap-and-trade program would set an upper limit on carbon emissions and require polluters to buy permits to offset each ton of carbon they spew into the air – with the exception of a limited number of free permits and an allowance for polluters to swap permits.

The law would create a state Climate Policy Office, a Climate Board to advise the office and a Joint Committee on Climate Action.

Opponents of the measure say it will cost too much, but the Union of Concerned Scientists says both cap-and-trade programs and carbon taxes can generate significant revenue and that the use of that revenue “has important implications for distributional fairness and economic growth.”

Such programs are already in place in California and in East Coast states that participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, as well as in parts of Canada, Europe and China.

Recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Climate Assessment say the world has about a decade to make the changes that will avert a climate disaster.

House Republicans immediately released a statement saying Democrats had “declared war on workers” and called the planned Climate Policy Office “a massive, unaccountable government entity.”

The bill is expected to pass the senate. Oregon Governor Kate Brown said she looks forward to signing it into law later this month.

“Climate change threatens our communities, our economy, our ecosystems, and our way of life in Oregon,” Brown said in a statement. “We have an enormous opportunity to forge a new path on state-level programs to address this crisis. Oregon can be the log that breaks the jam nationally in creating a tailored statewide program that can meet science-based emissions reduction goals while growing the economy and investing in clean energy solutions, rural and coastal communities, and impacted communities.”

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