Riley Hill carbon speaker

Ontario Mayor Riley Hill, center, was one of the leadoff speakers at the carbon reduction bill hearing at the Baker County Fairgrounds back in February.

SALEM — House Bill 2020, which is Oregon’s plan to fight global warming or climate change is up for a vote on the Oregon House floor next week. That could come as early as Monday, depending on how quickly House members move through the bills on its agenda.

HB 2020 has been in development since the beginning of this session and was passed out of the Joint Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday along a party-line vote, with the Democrats in the majority.

The bill requires that a cap be placed on greenhouse gases and puts a price on going over the cap. State lawmakers, Sen. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, and Rep. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, have estimated that the cap and trade provision will increase fuel prices by 16 cents per gallon at the beginning and go up from there. Bentz has said the bill will be hard on people and businesses in the eastern part of the state.

In a statement after the committee vote, Gov. Kate Brown said, “Oregon is on the cusp of becoming the second state in the nation to adopt an economy wide carbon market to reduce greenhouse gases.”

“Climate change threatens our communities, our economy, our ecosystems and our way of life in Oregon,” Brown’s comment continued. “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.”

However, Republicans see the bill differently.

In a news release from the House Republican office, House Republican Leader Carl Wilson said “The Democrats in today’s Ways and Means meeting voted for a bill that will devastate workers and communities across Oregon,” he said. “Democrats own this.”

“At every turn, from pre-session negotiations and public hearings to amendments that would have benefited working Oregonians, the Democrat leadership has made it clear their agenda is more important than the well-being of thousands of workers whose employment is now in jeopardy,” Wilson said. “The supermajority is poised to unleash the most onerous and debilitating scheme ever passed by an Oregon Legislative Assembly.”

Companies have already announced they are closing plants, including ones in St. Helens and Coos Bay and others have said the costs of Cap and Trade will force them to cut workers or move operations out of Oregon.

The bill establishes Climate Policy Office which will adopt the Oregon Climate Action Program by rule and also creates Oregon Climate Board, which will have an advisory role.

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Larry Meyer is a reporter for the Argus Observer.

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