OREGON - Governor Brown is for
democracy, just not your vote
Oregon Gov. Kate
Brown has signed an executive order directing state agencies to
reduce Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions through more stringent
standards for fuels, new buildings and consumer appliances,
imposing by fiat what she was denied by Republican legislators.
Opponents of the ill-fated Senate Bill 1530 — the cap-and-trade
scheme foiled in the recent session when Republicans walked out
— should not be surprised. The GOP played the only cards they
had to block the measure, now Brown has played hers.
Republican legislators who walked out wanted the Democrat
majority to put their plan on the ballot so Oregonians could
give it an up or down vote. We agreed that a measure that would
radically impact the economy while having an infinitesimal
impact on the climate should be put to a vote.
SB 1530 would have imposed measures to reduce Oregon’s
greenhouse gas emissions to 45% below 1990 levels by 2035 and
80% below 1990 levels by 2050. To meet those goals, large
emitters of greenhouse gases would be forced to buy allowances,
the supply of which would be reduced over time.
The idea was to incentivize industry to find replacements for
fossil fuels, and to use the proceeds from the sale of
allowances to fund weatherization programs, jobs training and
green energy projects.
The proposed bill would have increased the cost of gasoline,
diesel fuel, natural gas and electricity. The millions of
dollars spent on allowances would most certainly be passed along
to consumers of the goods produced by regulated companies.
Democrats said the bill is too complicated for Oregonians to
give a simple up or down vote.
Unlike the legislation, Brown’s order doesn’t take an
economy-wide approach and instead gives direction to specific
“Significant change doesn’t have to take the form of a single
step,” said Brown at a press conference. “It can happen with
several separate actions. And that’s what I’m doing today.”
The 14-page order directs the Oregon Department of Environmental
Quality to reduce emissions. The order directs the department to
expand the state’s existing low-carbon fuel program, which is
designed to gradually reduce emissions from gas, diesel and
The order seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and
trucks 20% by 2030 and 25% by 2035.
It’s impossible to say how much this will cost Oregonians. The
order has none of the cut outs for various industries and
regions that existed in SB 1530. We expect no shortage of
lawsuits once the rules are written.
It is likely that the expansive order was meant to draw
Republicans back for a vote.
At the time of their walkout, Brown accused Republicans of
“being against the democratic process.” She has said legislators
using the tactic were “stifling democracy.”
Where direct democracy is burdensome and messy, executive action
is expedient and neat. It carries none of the risk of rejection
by the voters.
Brown is all for democratic processes, just not the ones that
give you a vote.
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