Oregon lawmakers introduce cap-and-trade bill, but success seen doubtful

Published 21:36 on January 15, 2016  /  Last updated at 21:42 on January 15, 2016  /  Americas, US  /  No Comments

Two Oregon state senators on Thursday introduced draft legislation that would establish a state-wide cap-and-trade scheme from 2020, but sources said the bill stands little chance of surviving.

Two Oregon state senators on Thursday introduced draft legislation that would establish a state-wide cap-and-trade scheme from 2020, but sources said the bill stands little chance of surviving.

The Healthy Climate Act, introduced by Democrats Chris Edwards and Lee Beyer, would establish a carbon market to help Oregon meet a target of cutting GHG emissions to 75% below 1990 levels by 2050. It would also set intermediary targets of 20% below 1990 levels by 2025, and 45% below by 2035.

But a legislative source told Carbon Pulse that, in light of a recent agreement between the state’s largest utilities and environmental campaigners to all but phase out the use of coal-fired power by 2030, he would be surprised if the Edwards-Beyer bill made it out of committee.

The bill is expected to meet the same fate as several similar efforts to price Oregon’s CO2 that were tabled last year.

The proposed cap-and-trade scheme includes many of the same design elements as California’s carbon market, which the source said was intended to leave the door open to linking to the WCI, of which Oregon is a founding member.

On the sidelines of last month’s UN conference in Paris, Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel told Carbon Pulse that Oregon was one of four US states that had expressed interest in joining WCI.

Oregon’s lawmakers this week weighed in on the utility-green group agreement, which also calls for a doubling of renewable energy use.

The state’s legislators rejected a similar initiative last year, prompting climate campaigners to propose several ballot measures for the November nationwide elections.

If Oregon’s lawmakers approve the new plan this year, those measures will be withdrawn.

FACTFILE:

  • The state’s current energy mix includes 35% coal-fired power – most of which comes from out of state – and less than 9% renewables.
  • Oregon has a single coal-fired power plant, which already scheduled to close by 2020.
  • In 2012, Oregon emitted 60.8 million tonnes of CO2e, an increase of 7%, or 4 million tonnes, from 1990.
  • Transportation was the biggest-emitting sector at 23.9 million tonnes, followed by electricity use at 17.9 million and natural gas use at 6 million. Industry accounted for 3.8 million tonnes, with the balance coming from agriculture and the residential and commercial sectors.

By Stian Reklev and Mike Szabo – stian@carbon-pulse.com

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