Oregon Climate Bill Gets Another Chance in 2020

The 80th Oregon Legislative Assembly convenes today, Monday, February 3rd, for its so-called "short session," and legislators will have 35 days to look at more than 250 pieces of legislation that have already been introduced. One of the top priorities for the Democratic majority will be to sign into law new climate legislation, after last year’s efforts to pass a controversial greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade bill ended in dramatic fashion with a Republican walkout.

A new cap-and-trade bill introduced in the Senate, SB 1530, is receiving the most attention as the session starts. It largely adopts the framework of the 2019 bill that passed the House, creating an overall cap for emissions in the state that would lower over time to ensure Oregon meets conservation targets by 2035 and 2050.

  • Greenhouse gas emitters would need to obtain credits for each ton of gas they emit under what is typically referred to as a cap-and-trade program.

The draft bill does make some changes to the 2019 bill, however, in an effort to address some of the Republican-voiced concerns. SB 1530 introduces a geographic phase-in of the requirement that transportation fuel suppliers purchase credits, starting with the Portland metro area in 2022 and other metropolitan areas in 2025.

  • By not including rural areas in this requirement, the proposed bill theoretically addresses concerns that rural communities who have little choice but to drive will be disproportionately affected by gas price increases.

The first public hearing on SB 1530 is scheduled on February 4th. Notably, both the House leadership and the Governor's Office have introduced their own climate bills (HB 4159 and SB 1574, respectively) as well.

Which, if any, of the bills is able to gain traction remains to be seen.