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Jackson County commissioners oppose cap-and-trade bill

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners is leading an effort among Oregon counties to oppose Senate Bill 1530, a proposed cap-and-trade bill.

The board signed a proclamation sent to state legislators Wednesday stating the bill would result in utility and fuel cost increases that would “further burden the residents of Jackson County who are already burdened by the increasing costs of living in our communities ... and additional tax burdens placed on them by the State of Oregon.”

Twenty-two other county commissions across the state drafted similar proclamations, according to County Administrator Danny Jordan.

The idea to reach out to other counties began Thursday, Feb. 13, Commissioner Colleen Roberts said. After drafting their proclamation, they sent it out to every county commissioner in the state, asking if they wanted to do the same.

“We just kind of wanted to get a temperature and a vote of what’s out there of our counties on this cap-and-trade bill,” Roberts said. “And a voice, a unified voice that we needed and we weren’t able to accomplish any other way.”

Proclamations of opposition came from Josephine, Douglas, Coos, Curry, Linn, Polk, Wheeler and Yamhill counties, and from the Eastern Oregon Counties Association, which represents 14 Oregon counties, including Klamath, Lake and Deschutes.

“Of note, Jackson County only reached out to Oregon counties in the last week. Because of the short time available to gather this documented opposition ... we believe that not all counties who may be in opposition are represented here,” said an email from Jordan.

The Chamber of Medford & Jackson County on Thursday sent out an email linking to a petition to protest the proposed legislation.

“Considering a bill of this magnitude and complexity during a 35-day short session is an ill conceived plan which poses a serious threat to Oregon businesses and Oregonians,” the online petition says.

The main goal of SB 1530 is to fight climate change by a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the state that stem from human activities, with goals of at least 45% below 1990 emission levels by 2035 and at least 80% below 1990 emission levels by 2050.

The emission limits apply to certain industries and major fuel importers, according to a recent Oregon Capital Bureau story.

Cap-and-trade is a contentious issue in rural Oregon. Senate Republicans walked out of the capitol last year and are preparing to leave the state again in order to deny the body a two-thirds quorum, according to the Statesman Journal. Democrats have a super majority in the Legislature, meaning they don’t need any Republican votes to pass tax legislation, but two Republicans are needed to establish a quorum.

In Jackson County’s letter, the board stated that SB 1530 would directly impact residents because of the resulting rise in fuel and utility costs.

SB 1530 was sent to the full Joint Natural Resources Committee Wednesday after a public hearing and work session.

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanPfeil.

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