MEDFORD, Ore. — Officials in Jackson County joined voices from a list of mostly southern and eastern Oregon counties in proclaiming "strong, cohesive opposition" to Senate Bill 1530, the new version of a divisive cap-and-trade bill that roiled the state government last year.
Jackson County administrator Danny Jordan sent the statements on behalf of the Board of Commissioners on Thursday.
"I am providing you with the attached letters, orders, proclamations, and resolutions expressing strong, cohesive opposition to Senate Bill (SB) 1530," Jordan said. "The attached documents have been signed by Commissioners representing 64 percent of Oregon's counties. These counties cover almost 82 percent of Oregon's land mass and their Commissioners serve over 1.3 million citizens."
Oregon's population as of 2018 was estimated at almost 4.2 million.
Commissioners from Jackson, Josephine, Douglas, Curry, Coos, Yamhill, Wheeler, Polk, and Linn counties each sent individual statements opposing the bill.
Another proclamation issued by the Eastern Oregon Counties Association (EOCA) included the signatures of at least some officials from Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Lake, Malheur, Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa counties.
"Of note, Jackson County only reached out to Oregon counties in the last week," Jordan said. "Because of the short time available to gather this documented opposition from counties, we believe that not all counties who may be in opposition are represented here. Had there been more time, we believe the numbers stated above may be even more significant."
The proclamations from southern Oregon counties in particular cited impacts from wildfire smoke due to "mismanaged public lands," the potential increase in utility and fuel costs, and additional tax burdens as the primary reasons they opposed the bill.
"Any benefits derived through Senate Bill 1530, many of which are in dispute, do not justify the penalties and costs imposed by the Bill," several counties said in identical proclamations.
Last year the Oregon legislature's Democratic supermajority attempted to pass House Bill 2020, a similar cap-and-trade bill. Debates over the bill went from acrimony to all-out revolt by Senate Republicans before the bill ultimately faltered.
Since its introduction in this year's short legislative session, SB 1530 and its House counterpart have already encountered rallies by opponents and small-scale walkouts by Republican lawmakers.
Republicans have said that the cap-and-trade bill should not be decided in a short session — or that it should be referred to the ballot for a vote — on top of voicing opposition to the content of the bill itself.
On Thursday, Senate Bill 1530 passed out of the Senate Subcommittee on Natural Resources. It now goes on to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, the last step before a vote on the Oregon Senate floor.