Oregon’s Cap-and-Trade Bill — the ‘Most Progressive’ Climate Policy in the Country — Poised to Pass

by | Jun 17, 2019

Oregon is close to passing an aggressive cap-and-trade policy aimed at cutting emissions and investing in transitioning the state toward a more resilient infrastructure and economy in the face of climate change.

According to the Statesman Journal, “Though the program’s approval is shaping up to be a sure bet, a decade’s worth of baggage from California’s cap-and-trade program has fractured support for the policy among environmental groups. Some question whether Oregon can truly meet its lofty emission goals and keep its promise to prioritize investments in low-income communities and Native American tribes’ ability to prepare for a changing climate.”

In 2013, California began its own program, which sets a statewide limit on sources responsible for 85% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, and establishes a price signal needed to drive long-term investment in cleaner fuels and more efficient use of energy. According to the state, the program is designed to provide covered entities the flexibility to seek out and implement the lowest-cost options to reduce emissions.

Though California’s program experienced setbacks in the beginning, it now seems to be working the way it’s intended. In 2017, a report released by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Department of Finance detailed how investments from California’s cap-and-trade auction proceeds are delivering on their promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and boost the use of clean technologies throughout the Golden State.

The “2017 Annual Report to the Legislature on California Climate Investments Using Cap-and-Trade Auction Proceeds “ tracked the progress of California Climate Investments – which awarded and implemented more than $500 million in new funding last year and more than doubled the number of projects statewide, spread over 57 of California’s 58 counties.

As of 2017, $3.4 billion has been appropriated by the California Legislature to 12 state agencies, which have distributed $1.2 billion to projects that have been completed or are under way. Funding has benefited a wide variety of recipients.

Oregon’s House Bill 2020 would begin in 2021, and the state wants to reduce emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Most of the money raised — estimated to total $550 million in the first year — would be used to fund a sweeping progressive platform that encourages further emission cuts and prioritizes investments in low-income and tribal communities’ ability to respond to climate change.


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