Gov. Brown’s Executive Order Replaces Cap-and-Trade Bill

On Tuesday, Gov. Kate Brown signed an executive order tasking the Department of Environmental Quality to simply set caps on emissions throughout the state.  

The mandate seeks to compensate for the legislature’s failure to pass Senate Bill 1530, the ambitious piece of climate change policy that prompted a dramatic walkout from Republican lawmakers late last month.  

THE REDUCTION MANDATES: Through this executive order, the state will use a different set of methods to achieve the same targets for emissions reduction outlined in the failed cap and trade bill—45% below 1990 levels by 2035 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.  

DEQ WILL HAVE AUTHORITY TO SET EMISSIONS CAPS: With an economy-wide cap and trade system out of the question for now, Gov. Brown’s order allows the Department of Environmental Quality to institute caps on emissions from transportation fuels, natural gas, and industrial polluters. The mandate also outlines how several state agencies should move to make emissions reductions a top priority by using their regulatory capacities to bring about significant carbon reductions in their respective sectors.   

The sector-by-sector approach, while better than no action at all, certainly has its disadvantages. It will surely be met with legal challenges from Republican opponents. It will also be more expensive than the cap and trade plan. And it is likely to affect the more precarious sectors that the failed legislation made exceptions for in order to protect.  

VARIED REACTIONS: The head of Oregon’s Global Warming Commission, Angus Duncan, told The Oregonian, “Once again, Republican legislators have done their constituents dirt by replacing a more cost effective and efficient way of reducing emissions… They’ve managed to include folks who otherwise who would have been excluded.” 

By forecasting the legal challenges to come, Republican lawmakers made their continued opposition clear at a meeting of the Legislature’s emergency board on Monday, where the panel voted to direct $5 million toward the implementation of Gov. Brown’s executive order.  

By JD Brookbank