GOP senators in Oregon poised to walk out over climate bill

Democrats want to pass cap and trade, a free market solution to lower industrial greenhouse gas emissions.

Posted: Jun 20, 2019 10:44 AM

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — It looks like Republicans in the Oregon Senate will again walk out to thwart majority Democrats’ goals, this time attempting to block a sweeping plan to address climate change.

Three Republican state senators confirmed to Oregon Public Broadcasting Thursday morning that many of their colleagues would be absent from the Capitol when a Senate floor session begins at 11 a.m., likely denying the chamber a quorum.

Democrats want to pass cap and trade, a free market solution to lower industrial greenhouse gas emissions. Cap and trade is a top priority for Democrats, who view the program as a way to meet the state’s emission goals.

Under a cap and trade program, the state would put an overall limit on greenhouse gas emissions and auction off pollution “allowances” for each ton of carbon industries plan to emit. Democrats have presented the proposal as an efficient way to lower emissions while investing in low-income and rural communities’ ability to adapt to climate change.

Conservatives say it would hurt business and do little to stem the tide of climate change.

Gov. Kate Brown said Wednesday she’s willing to extend the legislative session and mobilize the state police if Senate Republicans follow through with the threat to block the climate vote.

Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr., responded to the governor’s threats, saying that Democrats’ climate proposals threaten business and the livelihoods of rural communities.

Democrats control both the Oregon House and Senate. The GOP has previously used walkouts as a way to slow the legislative process.

Republicans walked out of the Senate earlier this session in protest of a school funding tax package. The standoff lasted four days, until the governor struck a deal to table legislation on gun control and vaccine requirements.

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