Governor Kate Brown told reporters she was open to using the executive powers of her office to take action on climate change after Republicans walked out of the Senate to kill a carbon cap-and-trade plan for Oregon.
Brown said she would first attempt to salvage a legislative solution. Her first step is to send staff into “rural communities and industries,” searching for yet-unfound points of compromise, but said she was aware that may not be enough.
“[Given] the uncertainty that now permeates Oregon’s political system,” Brown told reporters, “I am also directing my staff and agencies to explore alternative paths.”
Republicans’ walkout coincided with protests from truckers and loggers claimed that the cap and trade plan would kill jobs and raise the price of consumer goods. Proponents of the bill believe that it would help the state meet its emissions targets of 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2035 and 80 percent below by 2050, as well as opening up the possibility of new and different jobs in the long-term.
Brown likened the strategy of Republicans and business interests’ strategy of walking out to “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” Because of the continual effects of climate change, the governor thinks this delay will require the next plan to be even more ambitious.
“This program will have to be more aggressive,” Brown said, “because the time pressures are still there and I’m committed to keeping those goals for our children and our children’s future.”
Announcing this the day after the legislative session ended was a strategic move on Brown’s part, since Republicans can no longer command the news cycle and gain political bargaining power by leaving the Capitol. Republican party officials have not yet been reached for comment about Brown’s announcement.
By Ian MacRonald