Governor rejects request to delay carbon executive order
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has rejected a request by 22 business associations (including the OAN) to delay implementation of Executive Order 20-04 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The order, issued March 9, directed state agencies to take actions to reduce and regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
Oregon Manufacturers & Commerce took the leading role in drafting a letter to the governor (PDF) asking for delay due to the effects of the pandemic. “This crisis has forced many of the industries in our state to focus their attention on complying with physical distancing mandates and new workplace restrictions while also trying to find ways to stay afloat amid such a sudden decline in sales and liquidity,” it stated. “Your administration, too, has been forced to work around the clock in an effort to respond to the outbreak and its impacts.”
The governor responded with a letter (PDF) of her own, rejecting the request. “I will not use the excuse of one global crisis – COVID-19 – to further delay or slow the response to another global crisis, climate change,” she stated.
She noted that the executive order was issued only as “a last resort after years of attempts to find a legislative path forward.”
“If we don’t take immediate action, it is the next generation that will pay the price,” Brown stated in her response. “We are seeing evidence that already points to another challenging summer season of drought, forest fire, and smoke. While certain actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been achieved over the past several years, progress on setting a clear, science-based cap on carbon emissions has been thwarted with every delay tactic imaginable.”
The order directs various state agencies to report back to the governor by May 15 on proposed actions, plans and timelines, but “formal rulemaking is not likely to commence until later this year at the earliest,” Brown stated in her letter.
“You and others have worked relentlessly to stop attempts at setting a cap on carbon pollution and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in a predictable, responsible way,” Brown’s letter concluded. “Now, I ask you to please cease your cynical attempts to use the devastating COVID-19 crisis in supporting polluting industries on your path of obstruction.”
OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone noted that nurseries have been a constructive force on climate discussions. He added, however, that OAN has not been able to support the most recent climate bills, nor the executive order, because they don’t do enough to mitigate added costs for the nursery industry.
“The OAN has been consistent in our effort in working in a bipartisan manner over the last several years on climate legislation,” he said. “At the core is that the nursery and greenhouse industry grows carbon-sequestering green goods. If a policy goes into effect that compromises the cost of production by causing price spikes in the supply chain, the result will be harmful to the very industry that is a driving force of moderation and mitigation on climate.”