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Republican lawmakers at the Oregon State Senate fled the state on Thursday to avoid being forced to vote on a climate bill that the Oregon House passed earlier this week in one of the strictest U.S. emission-capping efforts to tackle climate change.
On Monday, the Oregon House voted in favor of passing the so-called cap-and-trade bill, under which emission-intensive industries—including transportation, utilities, and manufacturing—would have caps on their greenhouse gas emissions and the major polluters would have to buy credits for every ton of their own greenhouse gas emissions. Oregon will be looking to lower its emissions to 80 percent below the 1990 level by 2050.
After clearing the Oregon House, the bill is now one vote away from becoming law. But this vote is in the Oregon Senate, where Republican Senators threatened walkouts to prevent the vote from taking place.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown, a Democrat, issued a statement on Wednesday, saying, “I’m disappointed in the Senate Republicans’ indications of a walkout, which would silence their constituents while stifling democracy.”
Governor Brown vowed to use all resources available as governor to ensure that a vote would take place, including by sending police to round up Republican lawmakers.
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“I am prepared to use all resources and tools available to me as Governor to ensure that Oregonians are being served by their leaders. I am in close communication with Oregon State Police and my office is making preparations for a special session to be held on July 2, 2019, in the event that the business of this state does not conclude by Sine Die. We will stay in Salem to work until our job is done,” Governor Brown said.
On Thursday morning, Republican Senator Cliff Bentz of Ontario told The Oregonian that “In a few moments, I will not be in Oregon.”
Bentz met with Governor Brown’s staff on Wednesday trying to negotiate amendments to the climate bill, but the talks failed.
The Republican Oregon Senators are worried that the bill would not protect “energy intensive, trade-exposed” companies in the state from having to pay higher costs due to the bill that would put them at a disadvantage against competition from China, for example, Senator Bentz told The Oregonian.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.