Nursery News: News

Carbon cap and trade bill moves to the House

Thursday, June 13, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Beth Farmer
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The Oregon Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means approved House Bill 2020 on a party line vote. The proposed “cap and trade” bill is intended to reduce carbon emissions by imposing fees for carbon-emitting businesses that exceed caps, and it would link Oregon's program to California and several other states in the Western Climate Initiative, a multi-jurisdictional carbon market.

The bill would not tax nurseries directly, as nurseries aren’t themselves emitters. However, nurseries would pay a lot more for transportation (higher fuel costs) and the heating of greenhouses (higher natural gas costs) due to the bill’s caps and fees. As one example, Tom Fessler of Woodburn Nursery & Azaleas Inc. estimated back in May that his natural gas bill would go up by more than $200,000 the first year the bill is in effect, due to a projected 28 percent price hike. The OAN supported a series of proposed amendments to soften the blow of these cost increases, but these amendments were not included in the version of the bill that passed.

"The carbon bill is a prime example of policy making by the majority in 2019 — unchecked, uncompromising and uncaring about the economic fallout," OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone said. "So few legislators have ever been in business and the indifference is now the norm. The OAN and agriculture came to the table in good faith, working side by side with all interests to do what we can to reduce carbon. We will pay more for transportation and natural gas – for what – little or no impact on climate change. It is short-sighted and disappointing."

Nursery products sequester carbon rather than adding it to the atmosphere; therefore the bill contains a requirement that the state must purchase landscape and other plant materials from Oregon nurseries for any transportation projects.