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Truckers, loggers push back on Oregon's climate proposals

A key legislative panel approved a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, setting up the ambitious climate proposal for a full floor vote.

Posted: Jun 12, 2019 4:53 PM
Updated: Jun 12, 2019 5:11 PM

By SARAH ZIMMERMAN Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Dozens of industrial trucks drove laps around the state Capitol Wednesday, blaring their horns and releasing plumes of diesel into the air as part of a demonstration against Oregon's climate policies that loggers and truckers say will devastate their business.

It comes as a key legislative panel approved a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, setting up the ambitious climate proposal for a full floor vote. The bill, along with another addressing diesel emissions from heavy-duty trucks, are meant to reduce the emissions behind global warming and stem the tide of climate change.

Some employers have welcomed the changes, saying cap and trade has been carefully negotiated for over a decade and will actually bring new, high paying jobs to some of the most remote parts of Oregon.

"This actually opens the door to an incredible amount of high paying jobs," said Matt Swanson with the Northwest Carpenters Union, which represents carpenters and construction workers. "As we transition to cleaner technology, we will need more construction workers on the ground, including in rural areas, to build new infrastructure."

The program sets aside $10 million every two years for investments in transitioning displaced workers to clean energy jobs, providing unemployment benefits plus career and technical training. There are also wage and labor standards built in to ensure these new jobs offer fair pay and other worker benefits.

But truckers and loggers say that there's no reason for the state to move forward with such an ambitious climate platform since Oregon's emissions make up far less than one percent of the global problem. Workers add that such emissions changes would put them out of business, raising fuel and equipment costs.

"It's the height of conceit and arrogance to say that we are responsible for this issue or that we could even do anything to fix it," said Gregg Budge, who owns his own trucking company in Vernonia, northwest of Portland. "If their concept of climate change is a real thing, Oregon is such a minuscule part of this world that this legislation would do nothing."

Under a cap-and-trade program, the state puts an overall limit on emissions and auctions off pollution permits or "allowances" for each ton of carbon industries plan to emit. Only the largest polluters are targeted, and the idea is that as the emissions limit becomes stricter over time, it will be in industries' financial interest to switch to green technology. The state ultimately aims to reduce emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The change is expected to raise gas prices by about 22 cents a gallon for the first year, with gas rising above $3 dollars a gallon by 2050, according to the Legislative Revenue Office. Some of those costs would be returned to low-income drivers under a fuel rebate program written into the bill.

The trucking industry is also likely to experience a reduction in tax rates, which state economists say will lower some of the financial impacts of the program.

But truckers maintain that even with those caveats, the proposals only showcase how little lawmakers understand industry in rural Oregon. Truckers have to buy their own trucks and in many cases aren't reimbursed by employers for the price of fuel.

They say that they're being punished double by lawmakers: cap and trade would raise fuel prices, while a proposed clean diesel bill would require some truckers to buy new engines or vehicles — upgrades that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The diesel measure aims to phase out diesel engines produced before 2007, and the proposal only applies Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties, which are primarily urban areas.

Senate President Peter Courtney addressed a crowd of protesters outside the Capitol, acknowledging their frustrations with the proposals.

"I see you glaring at me and I get that," he told a crowd, adding that he wouldn't "celebrate" the passage of either proposal.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 155315

Reported Deaths: 2208
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah31853528
Washington21170212
Marion18416285
Clackamas13357175
Lane10224126
Jackson8377112
Umatilla765182
Deschutes594659
Yamhill377364
Linn358656
Malheur335058
Polk305342
Klamath278955
Douglas246354
Josephine233750
Benton233516
Jefferson195528
Coos148219
Union128419
Columbia126121
Wasco122126
Lincoln113120
Hood River106829
Morrow104714
Clatsop7756
Crook77518
Baker6567
Curry4266
Tillamook4142
Lake3756
Harney2736
Grant2221
Wallowa1424
Gilliam531
Sherman530
Wheeler221
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3563578

Reported Deaths: 51953
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles119089421328
Riverside2894503767
San Bernardino2862912816
Orange2610223904
San Diego2596413271
Santa Clara1104221777
Kern102627826
Fresno952021443
Sacramento931801472
Alameda804961241
Ventura77534844
San Joaquin665691101
Contra Costa62164674
Stanislaus56024946
Tulare47784758
Monterey42138328
San Mateo38922515
San Francisco34213410
Santa Barbara31763409
Solano30024164
Merced28915397
Sonoma28063298
Imperial26888591
Kings21951218
Placer19763232
San Luis Obispo19612227
Madera15436209
Santa Cruz14588183
Marin13136197
Yolo12816185
Shasta10972174
Butte10941160
El Dorado9095100
Napa901469
Sutter884597
San Benito575959
Yuba573336
Lassen560119
Tehama508152
Nevada395274
Tuolumne394659
Mendocino379643
Amador345741
Humboldt318033
Lake315341
Glenn222023
Colusa212813
Calaveras190547
Siskiyou174014
Inyo128737
Mono12114
Del Norte9875
Plumas6536
Modoc4524
Mariposa3957
Trinity3675
Sierra990
Alpine810
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