BEND, OR -- Oregon lawmakers are considering a "cap and trade" bill similar to what's already passed in California, but it's become a polarizing piece of legislation in Salem. The Oregon Farm Bureau says House Bill 2020 would have a dramatic, negative impact on farmers statewide. OFB’s Jenny Dresler says family farmers will pay between one and five-thousand dollars more for fuel per year, “And that’s significant, because it takes energy to produce food; it takes energy to produce fiber. In terms of electricity consumption and natural gas consumption, when you’re looking at primary processing and then fuel use, agriculture is going to bear a disproportionate burden under a cap and trade program.”
The bill is supposed to curb Oregon’s reliance on carbon by fining polluters and using the revenue to pay for the renewable energy industry. But, opponents worry it will cause prices for fuel, electricity and natural gas to skyrocket. Dresler says they’ve tried to find middle ground with supporters, but ideas have fallen on deaf ears, “And frankly [there are] some things that farmers might want participate in, because there would be a benefit. And at this point, looking at the requirements in the bill, I just don’t see a lot of opportunities for participation in an offset or incentive program.” She’s worried the bill includes few exemptions for farmers.
Central Oregonians are encouraged to take part in an HB 2020 listening session with members of the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction on Saturday, March 2, at COCC's Cascade Hall (2600 NW College Way, Bend), from 9 a.m. to noon. That meeting will be held in room 246-248.