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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.

Confirmed Cases: 21010

Reported Deaths: 355
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah484994
Washington304725
Marion288370
Umatilla225128
Clackamas152340
Malheur76814
Deschutes59610
Lane5793
Jackson4612
Yamhill45013
Lincoln4149
Union3942
Jefferson3554
Morrow3543
Polk31312
Linn27710
Klamath2012
Wasco1893
Hood River1840
Benton1696
Douglas1501
Josephine1142
Columbia940
Coos910
Clatsop850
Crook471
Baker380
Tillamook340
Lake320
Wallowa191
Sherman160
Curry150
Harney100
Gilliam40
Grant40
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

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Confirmed Cases: 554388

Reported Deaths: 10307
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Riverside40452799
Orange39076720
San Bernardino35452502
San Diego31779586
Kern22626171
Fresno17031171
Alameda13213208
San Joaquin12303211
Santa Clara11475203
Sacramento10795161
Tulare10475196
Imperial9693244
Stanislaus9566161
Contra Costa9022138
Ventura814689
San Francisco743267
Santa Barbara670469
San Mateo6110120
Marin528779
Monterey521235
Merced501264
Kings445356
Solano402940
Sonoma343147
Madera230239
Placer218620
San Luis Obispo209315
Yolo169043
Santa Cruz12386
Butte10958
Napa104610
Sutter9217
El Dorado7291
San Benito7094
Lassen6380
Yuba5884
Shasta41810
Mendocino38010
Colusa3624
Glenn3603
Nevada3221
Humboldt2824
Tehama2761
Lake2202
Amador1642
Mono1531
Tuolumne1522
Calaveras1471
Del Norte990
Siskiyou930
Inyo643
Mariposa602
Plumas340
Modoc50
Trinity50
Sierra30
Alpine20
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