How’s it going to end? As a former fiction writer, that’s the question I wanted my readers to be asking, breathlessly turning pages to reach the conclusion.
There is nothing like a good thriller to keep you up late into the night, and thrillers come in all forms. The Oregon Legislature has created some suspense of its own during the 35-day session, particularly with respect to cap-and-trade legislation that is the subject of the feature on pages 4-5 this month.
To be sure, putting a price on carbon in Oregon is a heavy lift in the short session. There is little time to conduct the type of analysis needed to thoroughly examine the legislation’s impact on Oregonians. However, I have seen major environmental legislation passed in Oregon’s short session. It can be done.
Oregon’s electric cooperatives have expressed serious concerns about the state of Oregon’s carbon policies. On one hand, they want to cap emissions on utilities and industry. On the other hand, state agencies have no problem devaluing Oregon’s greatest asset against climate change : our federal hydroelectric system.
It’s this misalignment, along with other issues, that led us to urge the legislature not to pass the cap-and-trade legislation in the short session. But, as of this writing, the bill is alive in the Rules Committee in the House and Senate. Does the bill have the votes to pass? Will the bill’s sponsors make concessions to make the bill more palatable? No one knows, and the tension is enough to keep an army of lobbyists up all night wondering how this is going to end.
Oregon lost a great leader and a real gentleman last month when Ray Baum died due to complications from prostate cancer.
Ray had a sterling resume: lawyer, legislator, utility commissioner and, as his last role, the staff director of Chairman Greg Walden’s Energy and Commerce Committee–the most powerful committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. But for all his success in Salem and Washington, D.C., Ray never lost his Eastern Oregon sensibility or his infectious sense of humor. Ray’s brother Dave —a true statesman in his own right—is on the board of Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the whole family.