Living along the Oregon Coast gives you a profound appreciation for the environment. From the sustainable management of our forests to the protection of marine life, we’ve made tremendous strides in safeguarding the natural beauty around us. So, public policy debates have become about how we protect our environment, not whether we protect our environment. And Oregon has a history of creating innovative policies that balance our goals for environmental protection with the need to create job opportunities for rural families.
A new proposal in Salem, which would adopt California’s tax on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, threatens to disrupt this balance. Here are five reasons why Coos County residents should reject California’s “cap and trade” plan.
1) The cap and trade proposal gives unelected bureaucrats at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality the authority to raise the emissions tax without a vote of the Legislature. Then, it gives the tax revenue – a projected $700 million every year – over to a panel of special interests to spend with minimal oversight.
2) Based on the initial tax rate being discussed, it will immediately drive up the cost of gas by $.16 per gallon. Over time, a family’s cost of living will increase by as much as $50 to $125 per month, depending on where they live. This is particularly bad for rural communities, where residents often have to drive farther distances to get to work or run errands.
3) It will drive thousands of job opportunities away from Oregon, particularly rural communities. Since enacting its cap and trade law, California’s manufacturing job growth rate has been half the national average. If you live in the Bay Area or Los Angeles, you have access to a great economy. But, most of the rest of the state – particularly rural communities like Coos – is above the national or state unemployment rate. In 2013, the year California’s Cap and Trade system went into effect, California had 46 manufacturing plants locate or expand in the state; Texas had 253.
4) Oregon is one of the lowest Greenhouse Gas emitters in the county, and we’re getting lower. In fact, while our state’s economy and population have grown considerably since 2000, our state’s GHG emissions have declined by 13 percent. Our state is responsible for a meager .7 percent of US emissions and .1 percent of global emissions. You could eliminate the Oregon economy entirely and not make a dent in global GHG emissions.
5) We just passed new laws within the last two years to reduce emissions from cars and trucks – 36 percent of Oregon’s total emissions – and from electric utilities. We should give these laws a chance to work.
If your goal is to reduce global emissions, then our policy should be to recruit more businesses to Oregon, not drive them away. It will ensure that a plant locates in a clean energy economy like Oregon’s instead of a high-carbon emitting state or country. More importantly, it would bring desperately needed jobs to rural Oregon, which is struggling to build communities with enough opportunity for families to thrive. We should reject California’s cap and trade law and, instead, continue doing things the Oregon way.
Bay Area Chamber of Commerce