BEND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown is poised to sign off on the extension of the low carbon fuels standard, but the Bend Chamber of Commerce has concerns the measure will negatively impact Central Oregon workers. SB-324 creates a carbon credits program for transportation fuel to be regulated by the DEQ, in an effort to address pollution. Local business owner Jeff Robberson chairs the Bend Chamber’s Legislative Committee. He tells KBND News the bill sounds good on the surface by trying to protect the environment, but will have unintended consequences. "It’s been estimated that the price of the fuel, of the tax will be 19-35 cents, and they’re kind of settling on the 19-cents. And, what really concerns me in Central Oregon where we have such an affordable housing issue, a lot of our lower paid employees live in La Pine, Redmond and Madras. So, you add 20-cents a gallon, it’s costing them a couple hundred dollars extra, just to commute."
Robberson says Central Oregon’s lack of mass transit also means workers are more dependent on their vehicles. Supporters of the bill say they can’t control fluctuating gas prices, but SB-324 is a move in the right direction to address climate change. The DEQ would manage the program, and could shut it down if prices increase too much.