Oregon House sends controversial climate bill to Senate

Jon Vahala, the owner of Emmanuel Site Works in Pleasant Hill, said if gas prices increased, it could hurt his business.

Posted: Jun 18, 2019 6:42 PM
Updated: Jun 18, 2019 7:12 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Oregon House has approved an economy wide cap and trade program, and while some are on board with the changes, others have concerns about the bill.

The program would put an overall limit on greenhouse gas emissions and auction off pollution "allowances" for each ton of carbon industries plan to emit. Only the state's largest polluters would be targeted.

"We are seeing more severe wildfires and changing weather patterns, and I believe the longer we wait to address the crisis, the greater the cost is going to be,” said Rep. Julie Fahey, who voted for the bill.

Lawmakers voted 36-24 late Monday night after nearly six hours of debate, sending House Bill 2020 to the Senate.

The minority Republicans blasted the plan, saying it would raise gas prices and cause businesses to move. They also said it would hurt rural economies that depend on the industries targeted under the legislation.

Jon Vahala, the owner of Emmanuel Site Works in Pleasant Hill, said if gas prices increased, it could hurt his business.

"I don't forsee that we are going to be totally doomed, but I know our costs are going to go up,” said Vahala.

Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis said the bill could be bad for Oregonians. She said the risk isn’t worth the reward.

“This for a minuscule effect, practically zero effect, to change to the economy and put livelihoods at risk. For me it was a 100 percent easy ‘no’ vote,” said Boshart Davis.

Rep. Karin Power is one of the Democrats behind the bill. She said the state is behind on its emission reduction goals and must take dramatic action to respond to climate change.

Gov. Kate Brown has said she would sign the bill.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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