State Sen. Betsy Johnson blasted what she described as a last-minute suggestion to amend the cap-and-trade bill to benefit pulp and paper mills.
Johnson, D-Scappoose, a critic of cap and trade, has opposed the legislation over fears it would damage the Georgia-Pacific Wauna Mill, the largest single employer in Clatsop County with more than 700 workers.
Johnson issued a statement Tuesday with Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, that said one of the co-sponsors of cap and trade suggested opponents seek an amendment to Senate Bill 1530 for pulp and paper mills.
The senator did not publicly identify the legislator who made the suggestion.
“The politics surrounding SB 1530 are deeply disappointing,” Johnson and Witt said in the statement. “The proponents are desperate to pass a bill that will result in no significant environmental gains but will greatly burden the pocketbooks of our constituents.
They said the “thinly veiled attempt to ‘improve’ the bill by holding good union pulp and paper workers hostage is unacceptable.
“If the co-sponsor of the bill thinks we can ‘save’ pulp and paper jobs with an amendment, why wasn’t the fix included in the original bill? Why wouldn’t the co-sponsors use their superior negotiating position to add the amendment themselves? How disingenuous is it to ask opponents of SB 1530 to beg for their constituents’ jobs?
“The only way to save pulp and paper mills and Oregon manufacturing is to stop the politicking and get serious about a carbon reduction policy that doesn’t annex our state into California … where there are no pulp mills thanks to the cap-and-trade program.”
The cap-and-trade bill is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. The state would establish a cap on emissions that would decline over time. Industry would have to acquire allowances for emissions that could be bought and sold at market.
Witt said he plans to introduce an amendment calling for the creation of a state commission that would review proposals to reduce carbon emissions and award grants, similar to the Connect Oregon infrastructure grant program.
Witt, who doesn’t see much support for his proposal, said it would incentivize carbon reduction, while “our state would not be involved in creating a security exchange commission, the likes of which are scary enough to make me want to hide under my bed.”
Republicans have vowed to stop cap and trade , arguing it will damage the state’s economy. On Tuesday, House Republicans disrupted an evening session by leaving in protest because they said their members needed more time to consider contentious bills.
Last year, Senate Republicans walked out, denying the Senate a quorum to take action on bills.