By Larry Meyer
Argus Observer | February 16, 2020

SALEM — Republicans on Senate and House committees dealing with similar carbon reduction bills were not able to alter the inevitable movement of those bills as they move toward a vote in their respective committees Thursday, as they are in the minority.

Referred to cap and trade, the bills are designed to reduce carbon emissions from a variety of sources, including motor vehicles and industry. The legislation is seen as increasing costs to Oregonians, as the charges on those emissions go up

Thursday, Republican members of the House Committee on Energy and Environment refused to take a vote on House Bill 4159, walking out of the room before the Democrats voted the bill to the House Rules Committee.

“Cap and trade will raise costs of living on all Oregonians, drive business out the state and hand control over to unelected bureaucrats,” said Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, vice-chairman of the committee.

“In a symbolic gesture, we have decided to step out of the room and not take a vote on a bill that would devastate Oregon’s economy. We have tried to engage with our colleagues on this issue, but have repeatedly been denied the opportunity to represent our districts in this conversation.”

One of their complaints was that the bill did not have any public input and House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, called for House Speaker Tina Kotek to allow public hearings on cap and trade bills.

Findley says it is ‘necessary to maintain parity’

Over on the Senate side, State Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, said all but one of his attempts to amend the Senate version of the carbon reduction bill, SB 1530, was defeated in the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

One of his amendments would have exempted Malheur County and the portion of Baker County which includes Huntington from greenhouse gas emission regulations. In the amendment, Findley noted Idaho has not enacted policies for placing a price on greenhouse gas emissions, which will put these portions of eastern Oregon at a competitive disadvantage with communities across the border.

“Modifying the exemption or exclusions is necessary to maintain parity between the costs to consumers in Idaho and to consumers in Oregon of placing a price on greenhouse gas emissions,” Findley’s amendment reads.

Out of more than 20 amendments submitted by Findley, the one he said that was accepted by the majority would allow industries that use more than one fuel source to issue one emission compliance report.

During debate in the committee on Thursday, Findley complained that a 177-page amendment was delivered to committee members Wednesday evening, only 12 hours before the committee was to meet, not giving them time to know what is in the bill.

Also, there was no information about possible economic impact of the bill, he said.

“We have not seen any economic analysis.”

Findley also raised the issue that the bill involved revenue and should have started in the House as required under the state Constitution, not the Senate.

Senate Bill 1530 was moved to the Ways and Means Committee, with possible floor action later this week.