In November, legislative work groups in Salem concluded their efforts to write a cap-and-trade bill for the 2018 short session. Conceived by state Sen. Mike Dembrow—chairman of the Senate Energy Committee—and his counterpart in the House, state Rep. Ken Helm, the ambitious Clean Energy Jobs work group process explored the wide range of issues around carbon regulation in Oregon. This exploration included the regulation’s impact on agriculture, forests, fisheries, rural communities and tribes—which, by the way, was the name of one of the work groups.
I was pleased to serve on the Work Group on Utilities and Transportation, which was chaired by Sen. Lee Beyer, a leading authority on energy issues in the legislature. Like Dembrow and Helm, Beyer believes deeply that climate change must be addressed.
While at this writing I cannot predict what the legislation will look like—or its ultimate fate in the Capitol—I was duly impressed with the transparent process and sincere attempts by these legislative leaders to get everyone’s viewpoint. Not only did we have homework assignments after each meeting—now I know how my kids feel—I know with certainty that the respective chairmen read our homework and sought to find solutions to the issues we raised. It was about as far from a smoke-filled room as one can get in the legislative arena. These leaders deserve credit for getting these issues on the table for all to see.
On behalf of Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association, I greatly appreciated being invited to participate to sit at the table. We hope to be invited back to future discussions and pledge to remain constructive. But about that homework…