from March 2020, Issues
There is a fierce battle of ideas and political willpower being waged at Oregon’s Capitol. On one side are the Democrats, who claim they have a mandate to implement Cap & Trade in order to meet CO2 emission goals set by the 2007 legislature. By meeting these goals, Democrats maintain Oregon will be doing its part in the battle against climate change. Democrats profess that any higher emission levels are an unacceptable failure.
On the other side are Republicans, who in both House and Senate chambers have left the state, to stop the Cap & Trade bills from moving forward. Republicans believe Cap & Trade will devastate the local economies in the districts they represent — districts that mostly rely on the natural resources economy. It is a classic case of the immovable rock versus the irresistible force, or to use a team sports analogy, the best offense verses the best defense.
All would seem hopeless, if that were the complete truth. As Paul Harvey was famous for saying, “And now the rest of the story.” First, we must go back to the CO2 emissions mandates set back in 2007. The first milestone set by the legislature was that by 2020 Oregon must reduce its green house gasses by 20% of 1990 levels. Did you know no government agency was measuring green house gasses in 1990? This is a critical fact. Therefore the 1990 levels are determined by estimates and assumptions to best-guess the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Even if we were to assume those 1990 best guesses are close to correct, another, and more important, assumption is in play — that this measurement is to be conducted in absolute terms. Since 1990, Oregon’s population has increased about 35%. If we look at CO2 emissions on a per person basis, instead of an absolute one, then Oregon is already exceeding its 2007 mandates, having reduced green house gasses over 22% from 1990 levels — 2% ahead of schedule, without Cap & Trade. Moreover, Oregon ranks third in the nation for the lowest CO2 emissions, when measured on a per person basis. One serious flaw with the 2007 legislature’s mandate is simply this: It doesn’t say how to measure emissions: on an absolute basis or per Oregonian.