PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – It’s the talk of the country: Oregon Republican lawmakers in hiding to thwart a controversial bill aimed at dramatically reducing the state’s carbon emissions over time.
House Bill 2020, also known as Oregon’s cap-and-trade bill, was expected to pass as Democrats control both legislative chambers under Democratic Gov. Kate Brown.
But what exactly is the proposal and how would it affect businesses and consumers?
For starters, it would put a cap on most of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Major polluters would have to pay to pollute by purchasing credits and there would be an ever-shrinking number of those allowances to go around.
“Whenever you have a kind of policy like this, it’s going to have an impact on the economy because you are effectively increasing the costs for things that use carbon,” said Sahan Dissanayake, an assistant professor of economics at Portland State University.
Dissanayake said Oregonians could expect to pay more for fuel and energy as industries pass along costs.
But Dissanayake supports the bill and believes it’s the smartest way for Oregon to better deal with a global warming crisis.
Dissanayake told FOX 12 the bill is written to be slowly implemented and offer incentives and support for those who would be most greatly impacted.
“It’s trying to address this issue in a very balanced way,” Dissanayake said. “It’s a compromise bill because there’s a lot of things built in to try to mitigate the negative aspects that could happen.”
But the head of one local think tank believes there are no positives at all.
“This is probably the dumbest idea I’ve ever seen in my entire career,” said Cascade Policy Institute President and CEO John Charles. “It is a tax, it will make gasoline immediately about 20 cents per gallon more expensive – dollars more expensive in decades to come.”
Charles didn’t mince words when he said there’s no point for Oregon to play hero of global warming.
“We’re supposed to take one for the global team, and no benefits?” Charles said. “And pay all the costs? That’s insanity. That’s crazy.”
The bill passed the House last week, but the Senate can’t vote on it until more Republicans return to their jobs. Republicans said they would rather see Oregonians vote on the issue as a measure.
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