The trucking industry is mounting a last-ditch effort to derail Oregon’s historic cap and trade legislation, one day after the Oregon House passed House Bill 2020, a long-awaited effort to meet the state’s carbon emission reduction goals.
The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation as early as tomorrow, June 19.
“Not only do we need three “no” votes from Democrats, we need to hold Republicans to their [no] votes,” said the Oregon Trucking Association’s (OTA) president Jana Jarvis, who spoke on a conference call to members earlier this afternoon regarding a final lobbying blitz against the legislation.
Senate Democrats can afford to lose only two votes and still pass the bill with a simple majority. One Democratic senator, Betsy Johnson of Scappoose, is a vehement opponent, so at least two more Democrats must reverse their position in order for the bill to fail.
If HB 2020 becomes law, the legislation would set of goal of reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45 percent below 1990 emissions levels by 2035 and to at least 80 percent below 1990 emissions levels by 2050.
The trucking industry has focused criticism on the cost impacts of the legislation. A state analysis found the bill would raise gasoline prices 22 cents a gallon by 2021 and by $3 a gallon by 2050.
“It’s a been a concern because there is no plan to help our industry to transition to cleaner fuels,” said Jarvis. Trucking, she noted, hauls 88 percent of the freight in Oregon. “The legislation won’t do anything to reduce carbon but will do a lot to increase costs,” Jarvis said.
The OTA call took place in the Salem, Oregon office of State Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany), the owner of Boshart Trucking. Boshart said her calculations showed the legislation would add $4,200 annually to the cost of running just one of her company’s big rigs.
“Put dollar amounts in emails to your senators,” Jarvis advised members. “This is very discouraging news,” she added. “Call your senators. It’s in their hands now.”
The trucking association is also asking for language that would delay implementation of the law, or provide the transportation industry free pollution “allowances.” Other industries, including utilities, have been given free allowances for several years as they transition to cleaner fuel sources.
Yesterday’s 36-24 House vote took place after a marathon six-hour effort by Republicans to stall the bill by peppering supporters with questions.
On the floor, State Rep. Karin Power (D-Milwaukie), the co-chair of the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction and one of the bill’s biggest boosters, called the threat posed by climate change “the greatest crisis in our lifetime.”