I was born and raised in Coos Bay and graduated from North Bend High School in 1989. That was before the federal government shut down the forests and lumber industry here on the South Coast with the spotted owl. Since then, Coos Bay has been dying slowly.
The cap and trade law that our State Senator Arnie Roblan and other politicians in Salem are considering now could prevent my kids and yours from having the opportunity to hold meaningful jobs here.
I’m not a part of a political party. I started paying more attention to politics again when our sawmill in Coos Bay closed last year and 110 of my coworkers and I were laid off. I had a union job and was taking home a good paycheck sorting lumber. Now I drive 45 minutes each way to Reedsport and I’m grateful for my new job, but I now work for $3 less an hour.
Even though lumber mills, farms and factories are not the prettiest places, they’re the lifeblood of the coast. Serving tourists is fine. Gift shops are also good. But you can’t pay rent and send your kids to college working at those places. We need those unglamorous, good-paying jobs to keep families here.
Cap and trade is built to increase prices for things we need to use to keep the machines running or to get to work.
According to AAA, cap and trade would increase gas prices by 22 cents per gallon right off the bat and increase every year after. If cap and trade passed tomorrow, I would pay over $85 a week to fill up the tank in my 2003 Chevy truck. And that’s just the start. We would all pay more for natural gas, propane, food and anything else that’s trucked in and out of Coos Bay.
Mills and factories would have to pay new carbon taxes and deal with more red tape just to keep operating at the same level. And that’s on top of the new hidden sales tax that many of our local businesses now must pay. A mill that’s teetering on the edge won’t choose to expand on the South Coast. We won’t get any new mills, either. We must protect what we have.
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My son graduates from Marshfield in two years. I worry that there won’t be a stable job for him here. Our kids’ only option might be working for only slightly more than minimum wage.
The worst thing about cap and trade is that supporters have admitted that cap and trade won’t help the environment at all. And if that wasn’t bad enough, cap and trade takes money out of our pockets and gives it to special interests for things like Tesla charging stations and bike lanes in Portland.
Cap and trade would be just another nail in the South Coast’s coffin.
I’m asking Mr. Roblan to think more about those of us he would abandon with cap and trade. The new version of the law is only a starting point. Everyone knows it will only get worse. Mr. Roblan can stop this before he retires this year. He should reject this feel-good, fake environmental program. Don’t make the rest of us pay forever for this law when you retire.
I’m asking those of us in Coos Bay who have ever had a job in a farm, forest or factory to call Mr. Roblan at 503-986-1705 to ask him to not leave us holding the bag when he retires.
Michael Wright was born and raised in Coos Bay in the late 1960s and comes from a long line of blue-collar workers. His dad worked in construction and mom worked in a nursing home while raising four children, who continue to live in the community. Michael has spent most of his life working in the local mills in Coos and Douglas counties. He also has worked in the oil fields in Colorado between 2006-2009. Michael and his wife have two children. His son will graduate from Marshfield in 2022 and plans on working alongside his dad. His daughter has followed the family tradition and currently works at a mill in Coquille.