HB 2020: What you need to know

SALEM, Ore. — While Republican Senators still weren’t present Monday and weren’t over the weekend, there was still plenty of activity at the Capitol.

House Republicans released a statement saying their counterparts in the senate walked out for many reasons, saying the “cap and trade” bill, House Bill 2020, was just the straw that broke the camels back.

“We have to become more conscious of how we use our fossil fuels,” said State Representative Pam Marsh, D-Southern Jackson County.

Switching to renewable energy and protecting the industries the say can’t switch to renewable energy, that’s what lawmakers say is behind HB 2020.

HB 2020 bill would a limit on the greenhouse gas emissions that can be produced in the state. Any amount of emissions past that limit, you have to pay for.

Most Democrats like Marsh are backing it. “We are hoping in both the investor utilities and the gas utilities to have the ability to enable those industries to really look toward innovation,” Marsh said, “to provide resources to them that will help individuals or small businesses become more energy efficient.” Republicans in Salem don’t agree.

“If your industry, your mill, your logging operation simply can’t go to a different energy source, then all you can do is pay,” said State Representative Kim Wallan, R-Medford, “and at some point you can’t pay that price and you go out of business.”

Marsh said the bill is widely misunderstood. “Timber is not a regulated entity to start with,” she said, “so timber and agriculture those sectors are not even affected by this bill.”

Marsh said the bill ensures there’s a continuous supply of product for Oregon’s regional mills, but Wallan said the goal is to put an end to the fossil fuel industries and force them into clean energy jobs.

“Logging and those kind of heavy equipment operations,” Wallan said, “there’s not an alternative fuel available that will actually work.”

The non-partisan Legislative Revenue Office released data on the impacts on the Highway Fund by HB 2020 and it says drivers would pay more for gas. According to the report, you could see about a 22 cent tax increase for each gallon of gas in 2021. By 2050, you could pay up to three dollars in tax for each gallon.

The LRO said that would lead consumers to abandon gas vehicles in favor of electric ones.

“Really this is just a process of adaptation to the new reality that were all looking at,” said Marsh.

“The costs inherent in it are going to hit normal regular families really hard,” Wallan said, and you’re going to be scrambling.”

Both representatives said they have no idea how the rest of the session is going to play out, the legislature still hasn’t passed a budget.

Governor Kate Brown said if no solution can be reached by June 30, she’ll call a special session.

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