GOP Legislators in Hot Water for Bailing on Legislation

GOP Legislators in Hot Water for Bailing on Legislation

The politics of climate change have taken a bizarre turn in Oregon as Republican state senators have fled the state to prevent a quorum from occurring in that state’s senate, thus preventing the passage of comprehensive climate change legislation. To say the least, Governor Kate Brown, a Democrat, is not amused. According to Fox News:

“Republican lawmakers in Oregon are in hot water after they refused to partake in a historic vote Thursday to implement a cap-and-trade program to help rein in industrial carbon emissions.“Gov. Kate Brown authorized the state police to round up the 12 Republicans who walked out of the Capitol in protest of the bill and bring them back to the Senate floor for a vote. If passed the measure will make Oregon the second state in the country after California to implement such a program.”

The Oregon state Senate has 18 Democratic members and 12 Republicans but requires 20 members present to make up a quorum. It is the position of the Republican members that the Democrats have not negotiated in good faith to craft a bill that both sides can agree with. They believe that the current legislation will have a devastating impact on Oregon’s economy.

Cap and trade is a scheme in which the amount of allowable carbon that can be emitted into the atmosphere is gradually decreased, forcing businesses to pay higher and higher prices for the right to use fossil fuels. As the Oregonian explains:

“House Bill 2020 envisions a wholesale reduction in Oregonians’ use of fossil fuels with the goal – by the year 2050 — to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent less than what Oregonians logged in 1990.

“To get there, Oregon’s policy would require utility, transportation, and industrial companies to, in essence, buy the right to pollute. They will purchase so-called emission allowances in a state-run auction or on a secondary market to cover each metric ton of pollution they emit. As the state reduces the supply of allowances, they would get more expensive, increasing fossil fuel prices and providing an incentive for industries and consumers to reduce their consumption — and related emissions.”

However, as is common with such proposals, some shenanigans have occurred during the legislative process:

“Yet as the policy worked its way through this legislative session, many industries successfully lobbied for various ways to reduce the bill’s sting. Transportation fuel providers, however, came up short.

“The rationale has been that transportation fuels make up the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the state and are the toughest to reduce.”

The problem is that the burden with fall heaviest on Oregon’s rural residents, who have to drive longer distances than Oregonians who live in cities. Rural Oregonians also tend to have lower incomes. The Republican state senators tend to represent rural districts. Their pleas on the behave of their constituents have thus far fallen on deaf ears.

While a number of rebates and allowances are being proposed to lessen the blow for Oregon motorists, the fact of the matter is that every vehicle must run off of electricity in the state by 2050 for the goal of the bill to be achieved. A cynical person would suggest that electric vehicles are all well and good, but they might as well run on coal or natural gas unless all power plants become fossil fuel free.

Wind and solar, the favorites of those who believe climate change is a threat to the planet, would likely be inadequate to maintain a technologically advanced civilization. Nuclear power and adding carbon capture features to natural gas and coal-fired power plants would seem to be the way to go, measures that environmentalists have resisted.

In the meantime, Oregon’s state police are going to attempt persuasion to entice Republican lawmakers back to the state capitol. However, force or at least the threat may prove necessary.

Against this background, the Trump reelection campaign is considering putting resources in Oregon in an attempt to capture the state and its electoral votes. The effort would seem to be a tall order. The last time a Republican captured Oregon was during President Reagan’s 49 state blowout. Hillary Clinton carried the state by 11 points. However, if Oregonians find themselves irked by the Democrats’ cap and trade legislation, they might be tempted to give Trump and the Republicans a fresh look.


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