Oregon lawmakers weigh carbon pricing bills

Published 10:59 on April 15, 2015  /  Last updated at 10:36 on April 21, 2015  /  Americas, Carbon Taxes, US  /  No Comments

Oregon lawmakers on Tuesday held a public hearing on three bills that would create a price on carbon emissions for the state’s electricity providers, fuel suppliers and industry.

Oregon lawmakers on Tuesday held a public hearing on three bills that would create a price on carbon emissions for the state’s electricity providers, fuel suppliers and industry.

The bills are currently under consideration by the House Energy and Environment Committee, and take different approaches to how emissions should be priced.

  • HB 3250 would require the Environmental Quality Commission to set up a cap-and-dividend scheme. Allowances would be auctioned to fuel and electricity suppliers and industry, and most of the revenue would be paid back to Oregon citizens once a year. The scheme would allow for a limited use of offsets. It would begin on Jan. 1, 2018, and aim to bring GHG emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020, and reduce them by 40% by 2030 and 85% by 2050.
  • HB 3252 would impose a $10 tax for each tonne of CO2 emitted by electricity providers and fuel suppliers. Half of the revenue would be used to fund emission cuts elsewhere in the economy, the other half would target social spending, including housing programmes.
  • HB 3470 would task the Environmental Quality Commission to design policies, including a cap-and-trade scheme, to ensure the state would reduce GHG emissions to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and 75% below by 2050. Interim caps would be drawn up every five years to make sure Oregon stayed on track to the 2050 target. The market would start on Jan. 1, 2018.

A number of green groups and academics support the measures, such as Oregon Climate, one of the champions of the cap-and-dividend bill.

“Oregon’s role in this global crisis is to build the model that inspires federal action. HB 3250 is a revenue-neutral proposal: it would prove that the climate crisis need not be solved on the backs of low-income families,” Dan Golden, the group’s climate policy director said.

Industry groups oppose the plans, arguing that Oregon’s contribution to climate change is minimal, and regulation to cut emissions would only add costs to the local economy.

The Energy and Environment Committee has scheduled a work session on the bills this Thursday.

Last month, the state’s Senate and House passed a bill to cut emissions from transport with a clause that introduces offset trading. It is awaiting final sign-off into law by Democrat Governor Kate Brown.

By Stian Reklev – stian@carbon-pulse.com