Oregon Cap and Trade Moves Forward

House Bill 2020 (HB 2020), Oregon’s expansive cap-and-trade bill, passed out of the Joint Carbon Reduction Committee along party lines in an 8-5 vote this week.

Cap and trade is a market-based climate regulation policy which treats carbon emissions as a commodity, and allows government to sell licenses for companies to produce certain amounts of carbon emissions up to a “cap,” which would decline each year until the desired change in total emissions levels.

Oregon’s policy is particularly ambitious, and its passage would make it the second state after California to adopt a multi-sector emissions cap and pricing mechanism.

While Democratic lawmakers touted the bill’s forward progress as historic, Republican lawmakers continued to express concern about its economic impact. Their proposed amendments to the bill, including the total exemption of Ontario, Oregon, were rejected by the committee.

“There’s no dispute if this will raise the cost of living in Oregon,” said Rep. Daniel Bonham, (R-The Dalles), “there is a question – I’m questioning it – whether this is going to reduce greenhouse gases.”

HB 2020 now heads to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, the legislature’s budgeting authority, for a vote.

By Ian MacRonald