SALEM — Oregonians brought more than 2,000 trucks, tractors and other vehicles to the state Capitol on Thursday morning to protest climate bills and other legislation they say will threaten their livelihoods.
Trucks circled the Capitol, honking. The Capitol steps, mall and surrounding streets were thick with protesters.
Farmers, ranchers, loggers and others whose jobs are dependent on natural resources say the legislation — House Bill 2020, also known as cap and trade — will increase their fuel and energy costs while having a minimal impact on the climate.
“We’ve got climate problems to deal with, obviously,” said Mary Hewitt, 19, waving her sign among a group of other young protesters.
Hewitt comes from a family of truckers, fishermen and other working-class people. “So many of my peers have come out supporting these bills,” she said. “They think they’re fighting for the environment, and I get it. But this is not the way to help the earth. Ride a bike to work. Walk more. Recycle. But don’t crush me and my family. We’re people, too.”
Ellie Eliger, 30, from Tillamook, also showed up to protest with her family.
“Tillamook is not just a tourist destination,” Eliger said. “We work the land and take care of it. I come from a logging family. My dad runs a hay farm. This bill will destroy Tillamook industries.”
Leaders representing various industries that could be impacted by the legislation took turns speaking on the Capitol steps.
As Lane County Farm Bureau President Tiffany Harper took the podium, the crowd cheered, waving hats and signs in the air.
“There is an undeniable and noble calling to take care of the earth,” Harper said. “But this bill will not help the earth and only hurts all of us. I see fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers all around me. You all steward the natural world through farming, ranching and forestry. It’s time we stand up for each other and the earth.”
When state Senate Republicans walked off the job last week, aiming to block a cap on carbon emissions, their walkout made national news. This was the second time this session Senate Republicans fled the state Capitol to deny Democrats a quorum.