GRANTS PASS, Ore.– Dutch Bros. Coffee is cutting ties with an advocacy group supporting the controversial cap-and-trade energy conservation bill, House Bill 2020.
The Grants Pass-based company made notice to leave Oregon Business for Climate on Friday – a day after Republican state senators walked out of the state capital in protest and to avoid a vote on the divisive bill. The proposed law would lower emissions and invest in low-income and rural communities to help them adapt to climate change. Opponents say the bill would increase costs for businesses and dramatically harm rural communities and industries like logging and trucking.
Dutch Bros released a statement on Facebook announcing its decision. In it, the company said it had joined the organization several years ago to be a part of “protecting the environment for ourselves and future generations.” It said it was never their intention to be a part of a lobbying group.
“Dutch Bros doesn’t take political stances,” a spokesperson for the company said. “Our intention in joining Oregon Business for Climate was to collaborate with businesses to find solutions to environmental issues. We never intended for our name to be used in support of this, or any, bill. Our intention is to always take a neutral position in politics.”
Co-director of Oregon Business for Climate, Nancy Hamilton, said the organization respects the company’s decision to leave but were confused by the reason as OBC was set up two years ago solely to pass this type of bill for cap and trade legislation.
“Apparently there was some misunderstanding on their end about what our organization existed to do,” said Hamilton. “We don’t understand how that happened.”
Just under 100 companies are a part of the organization and members do have to pay dues relative to the number of employees they have, according to Hamilton. Most of the groups time has been spent traveling the state and speaking with businesses to bring that information back to help improve the bill for said businesses.
However, there seems to be a push against the organization as companies face a backlash for associating with it.
According to the Willamette Weekly, Dutch Bros isn’t the only to leave. The co-owner of Astoria-based Fort George Brewery also pulled his company from the organization on Monday after several restaurants boycotted selling the company’s beverages.
“There has been an organized misinformation campaign out there that has really hit a crescendo in the last couple weeks,” Hamilton said. “It’s making people afraid, it’s making them angry and that misunderstanding out there and bad information is riling folks up in a way that’s making them respond.”
Dutch Bros is standing by its decision and said that neither its membership with the organization or its withdrawal had any effect on business in the last couple of years. Still, the company’s post has received over 2,000 comments and over 6,000 shares – many of which seem to show support for the decision.
The company says it has taken a neutral stance on all issues related to politics and religion and will continue to focus on serving customers and its communities.
“We realize we made a mistake being part of an organization that has a political agenda,” the company’s spokesperson said. “In the future, we will be more intentional in our partnerships. We still hold the same values, and still intend to seek answers to complicated environmental questions.”
Hamilton said the company’s statement can speak for itself but that this bill is too important for businesses and the future of Oregon to miss.
“The climate crisis is here. Oregon can’t decide to opt-out of that,” she said. “This legislation, we believe, supports everyone state-wide, it uses a model that’s tried-and-true and we don’t have time to waste.”
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