Discussion of the Cap versus the Tax/Fee Approach to limiting Greenhouse Gas emissions

Information on the Ballot Measures Addressing Climate Pollution


October 16th 2019 Update

All reports point to the probability that a bill similar to HB2020 will be introduced into the 2020 short session under the heading of ‘unfinished business.’  It is difficult to imagine there being anything else more appropriate to meet that criterion.  Meanwhile, a series of Ballot Measures have been developed by Renew Oregon and collaborators allowing us to take the issue of addressing climate chaos through reductions in Oregon emissions to the voters of Oregon in November 2020 should legislative action not be successful.

September 29th 2019 Update

Since the 2019 Oregon Legislative Session ended, New York has passed a much more aggressive program, The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).  This includes a net zero greenhouse gas emissions goal by 2050 with assessment using the 20-year basis rather than the 100-year basis.  It is neither a cap nor a tax/fee proposal but simply sets goals and assigns responsibility for writing the program to a legislative committee.

In Oregon, considerations as to what should happen next are still underway:

The evidence suggests that a bill, maybe HB2020 or something very close to it, will be introduced into the 2020 (short) session.  Though the short session is conventionally limited to consideration of fiscal or urgent issues and ‘unfinished business,’ there is little doubt that a bill failing to receive a vote in the 2019 session because Republicans walked out the the Senate Chamber and, indeed, the State satisfies the requirements for ‘unfinished business.’

Meanwhile, there continues discussion about ballot measure options and optimism that the governor might impose some aspects of HB 2020 through Executive Authority.

How was HB2020 thwarted?

The main reason for the failure of HB2020 to receive Senate endorsement was a campaign of lies and misinformation about the impact of the Climate Action Program contained within HB2020 that was developed by industry and spread by Republicans, bill opponents, and those who reject the science (and it was difficult to tell them apart).  In particular, this campaign stimulated irrational fear among Oregonians that the program would tank the economy despite an economic analysis on the bill that showed it would be beneficial to the state’s economy.  This campaign also argued the program would result in large increases in utility and fuel bills despite the evidence from other states with similar  such programs produce neither outcome. In addition, the opponents generated the farcical frame that the proposal represented an effort by Portland Liberals to impose pain on the rest of the state despite the fact that HB2020 included multiple opportunities for investment in rural Oregon that would benefit economically disadvantaged regions of the state.  These were compiled by Senator Michael Dembrow here: Why HB2020 is Good for Rural Oregon – Dembrow. Republicans also argued that they had been excluded from discussion and offering contributions to the final version of the proposal, despite the list of some 17 items proposed by Senator Bentz and Republicans that were included.  Though Republicans, it was claimed by some, accept the science, they staunchly behaved throughout the discussion and negotiations on HB 2020 as though they are flat-earthers and hold beliefs of science denial parallel to their federal counterparts.


HB 2020, the proposal to establish an Oregon Climate Action Program, often known as the Clean Energy Jobs Bill,  was approved in Oregon House Monday June 17, by a 36:24 vote when only two Democrats sided with the Republican block in opposition.  It then moved to the Senate where it passed through the standard first two readings prior to the final third reading and vote – or would have…. However, because of their universal opposition to the bill even after serving on the full range of committees that developed and discussed it, in an effort to turn Oregon into a banana state and make us the laughing stock of the nation (if not the democratic world), Republican Senators decided to abdicate their responsibility of representing Oregonians.  They left the chamber and the state meaning there remained no quorum in the chamber (the quorum is 20 and there are but 18 Democrats).  Thus, no business could be conducted.  At the reluctant request of Senate President Peter Courtney, the Governor exerted her constitutional authority to request that the state police seek Senators and return them to the Capitol. Republican Senators remained firm in their refusal to return to the chamber and do their jobs until Senate leadership declared there were insufficient votes to pass the bill.  It is not clear how accurate that statement was, but the statement finally drew Republicans back to the Capitol on Saturday June 29th whereupon a frantic round of action resulted in passage of a number of other bills, but HB2020 simply died. The 2019 Legislative Session ended on Sunday June 30th without any climate action.

Since then, Governor Kate Brown has announced that she is prepared to use whatever executive authority she can muster to move climate action forward in Oregon.  The SOCAN Press Release on these events is available here: PRESS RELEASE – HB2020 2019

It is not clear what the next steps will be – but we (the statewide coalition and concerned legislators) will certainly not forget our responsibility to future generations. Our commitment to achieving greenhouse gas emissions reduction in Oregon is steadfast.  There are at least four possible routes forward:

  1. Reintroduce a Climate Action Program in the 2020 short session.
  2. Encourage the Governor to exert her Executive Authority to implement what aspects of HB2020 she is able to implement.
  3. Develop one or more ballot measures to introduce for the 2020 November election that would achieve the goals of the Climate Action Program proposal (HB2020) from 2019.
  4. Develop a modified proposal that essentially achieves the goals of the Climate Action Program proposal but is acceptable to some Republicans.

The relative advantages/disadvantages of these proposals are too extensive (and some too sensitive) to present here, but I will try to incorporate them as time passes.

It is not yet clear which of these is the optimal proposal.

The Recent Update:

Once HB2020A Engrossed was finally approved in the Joint Ways and Means committee with amendments.  It then became HB2020B Engrossed.

After an extensive series of efforts by Senator Betsy Johnson (Democrat, Senate District 16) and and Republicans to derail HB 2020 in the Joint Ways and Means Committee, with an assault of amendments none of which was designed to improve the program but all of which were designed to undermine  and delay it, the bill passed out of the Joint House/Senate Committee on Ways & Means on a 13:8 vote with a positive recommendation. From there it moved to the House floor  (Monday June 17).   Here, it was again assaulted by Republicans with a series of absurd proposals designed simply to kill the bill:

Motion to re-fer to Ways and Means failed. Ayes, 22; Nays, 37
Motion to refer to Health Care failed. Ayes, 22; Nays, 38
Motion to refer to Transportation failed. Ayes, 24; Nays, 3
Motion to refer to Revenue failed. Ayes, 22; Nays, 38
Motion to refer to Energy and Environment failed. Ayes, 22; Nays, 35
Motion to postpone indefinitely failed. Ayes, 24; Nays, 36

Note the pattern.  22 Republicans consistently voted against a livable planet for future generations. Meanwhile, on occasions one or two Democrats joined them.

Then finally, the actual vote:  Passed. Ayes, 36; Nays, 24

As you can see, the 38:22 Democratic Majority in the House was compromised by two voting ‘Nay’ with the Republicans, but PASS it did.  Now, the bill is referred to the Senate. According to protocol, the bill goes through a sequence of ‘readings.’  The first occurs when it is introduced (scheduled for June 18), a second follows (presumably June 19), and this is followed by the third and final reading (probably June 20 or 21).  It is during the third reading (as was the case in the House today), that the amendments / motions are introduced from the floor, so we can anticipate that Republicans will mount a parallel assault to that which they mounted in the House, hoping to whittle away 3 Democrats – enough to defeat the measure.   The prognosis is less rosy in the Senate since the D:R ratio is only 18:12 and we can only afford only two defections.

To support the positive vote, we (SOCAN) have sent each Senator likely to support HB2020 a copy of the SOCAN Climate Trends, Projections, and Consequences Summary for their district (available at, scroll down to and click on ‘Resources’).  These were also provided to all House members prior to the House vote.  Since each Senate District contains exactly two House Districts, this was easily accomplished.

The tenuous nature of te Senate means we need to encourage constituents to make contact as soon as possible (see above)

The letter of support for HB 2020 drafted by Renew Oregon and endorsed by some fifty environmental, labor, and social justice organizations across the state is here: HB2020A Engrossed support document with 50 organizational endorsements.

A 24-page summary of HB2020A Engrossed Section-by-section; Sorry it’s so long (about 25% the length of the Engrossed bill).

For reference, the bill was passed out of the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction (Friday May 17th)  on a party line 8:5 vote as follows:



Bentz (R) Nay

Bonham (R) Nay

Beyer (D) Aye

Boshart Davis (R) Nay

Dembrow (D) Aye

Helm D Aye

Girod (R) Nay

Lively (D) Aye

Golden (D) Aye

Marsh (D) Aye

Olsen (R) Excused

Power (D) Aye

Taylor (D) Aye

Brock Smith (R) Nay

Regrettably, while protecting our planet for future generations and all the life it supports, including our agriculture, forestry, and fisheries,  should not be a partisan issue, it is.

Earlier Versions:

HB2020-94 is available here while a 25 page section-by-section summary is available here: HB2020-94 Section-by-section – AJ. A Guest Column (Updated climate bill contains many protections) by Alan Journet promoting HB2020-84 appeared in the Medford Mail Tribune on May 19th, 2019.

HB2020-84 The previous omnibus amendment has been released.  It is available here; the expectation is for a committee vote Friday May 17th.  A deal has been worked out – as you may know – that the Democrats gave up gun control and vaccination bills in exchange for Republicans returning to the floor.   HB2020, however, was never on the bargaining table since House and Srnate leadership and the Governor are giving it high priority.   In terms of the quorum fracas –  the Rules of The House, (1) A quorum of the House is forty members. (2) If a quorum is present, the House shall proceed to transact its business. If there is no quorum present, a lesser number of members may adjourn from day to day and compel the attendance of absent members. For House Committees, (1) A majority of the members of a committee shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business before the committee, provided, however, that each committee may by rule designate a lesser number of its members as a quorum for receiving public testimony.

The Oregon Environmental Council / Renew Oregon hybrid Press Release based on HB2020-84 is available here.  While nothing is ever guaranteed until the votes are cast and counted, there is every optimism that this will be recommended ‘Do Pass’ by the Joint Committee on Carbon  Reduction, where it was developed, but it’s still worth sending an email to (or telephoning) members of the Joint Committee (Contact Information) to encourage their support.    Once out of the Joint Committee, the bill is then scheduled to move to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means (W & M) from which it must also emerge with a favorable recommendation.  It is not yet clear to which Ways and Means subcommittee it will be assigned (Natural Resources or Capital Construction).  Assuming a positive recommendation from W & M it will thence move to the floor of each chamber.  When it moves to Joint Ways and Means, we should start contacting members, first of the sub-committee, and then the whole committee to urge support (Contact Information).

Climate Day of Action – May 29th

Climate Day of Action in Salem attracted over 200 Oregonians to the Capitol to rally for and lobby for HB2020.  A dozen Southern Oregonians joined the contingent via car-pool.  To counter the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the car-pool excursion, SOCAN purchased offsets. For a brief report of the excursion, click here.

Related information

SOCAN Position statement on HB2020: SOCAN on HB2020; to understand Why SOCAN Supports HB2020

Guest Column by Pam Marsh and Jeff Golden:  The case for pricing greenhouse emissions

Final SOCAN testimony submitted in support of HB 2020: 2019_05_09 JCCR testimony

Economic Analysis of HB2020:

David Roland-Holst, Samuel Evans, Samuel Neal, and Drew Behnke, 2019: Roland-Holst 2019 Oregon’s Cap & Trade Economic Analysis  

An economic analysis of Oregon’s Cap-and-Trade Program (HB2020). OREGON: Changing Climate, Economic Impacts, & Policies for Our Future

District-By-District Clean Energy Jobs in Oregon  See The Economic Benefits of Oregon’s Climate Policies in Your District;  Senate District 3
Despite a population of just 4 million, Oregon’s clean energy economy ranks 14th in solar jobs and in the top 21 in energy efficiency, wind energy, clean fuels, grid and storage, renewable energy, and total clean energy jobs.

Other Bills to Watch

Actions to Promote Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Legislation in Oregon

Contact your State Representatives, Legislative Leaders, Joint Committee and other relevant committee members to support the legislation Contact Information

Write a letter to the editor (LTE) in support of the bill. General LTE information     Points to make   For help – email Alan

Talk to friends, family and others about the legislation

Previous Activity

February 2019 Hearings

A series of Hearings was held around the state during which testimony was received by the committee.  This has been reviewed and turned into an omnibus amendment HB2020-31 that essentially replaces the original bill.

To download the complete first omnibus amendment, visit here: HB2020-31 omnibus amendment.
For an 18-page summary  of the new bill from the Governor’s Carbon Policy Office, visit here: HB220-31 Amendment section-by-section CPO
For a two-page summary of the changes in the omnibus amendment prepared by Renew Oregon, visit here: HB 2020 Two-Pager on HB2020-31 Amendment March 25 2019

Discussion of the original Bill

HB 2020 Bill released Jan 31, 2019. Draft of Oregon Climate Action Program bill

HB 2020 2019 2-page Oregon Climate Action Program  (2-page summary by Alan Journet)

HB 2020 2019 Oregon Climate Action Proposal Section-by-section notes on bill by Alan Journet

2019 HB2020 Potentially Regulated Entities OCAP (Oregon Climate Action Program)

The proposed Oregon Climate Action Program will regulate entities responsible annually for over 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent regulated emissions.  This means emissions currently reported to the Department of Environmental Quality.  The list comprises 90 entities of which 23 are designated as potential Emissions Intensive – Trade Exposed companies (EI – TE) that will receive free allowance in the first year (2021) calculated on the basis of emissions per good manufactured, with the number of allowances reducing annually as the cap lowers.

Of the 90 listed, only Dry Creek Landfill is in Jackson County, only Gas Transmission Northwest (a pipeline) is in Klamath County, and none is in Josephine or Curry Counties.  However, if the Dry Creek Landfill emissions are Methane emissions that are demonstrated to have been recaptured and used for the generation of renewable energy, including but not limited to electricity, transportation fuels or heat, they will be exempt (Section 10).

Points to Make in Committee Testimony and Letters

HB2020 Points to Make in oral / written testimony from Alan Journet (SOCAN), and Renew Oregon

A response to the claims of HB 2020 opponents,by Alan Journet, Medford Mail Tribune March 3rd 2019

Policy Outcomes Statement

Policy Outcomes Statement developed by Statewide Coalition of Grassroots Climate Activist Organizations as a set of principles against which the bill will be measured.

History of Oregon’s 2019 Climate Action Program (Clean Energy Jobs)

As the 2018 Oregon Legislative Session drew to a close, Senate President (Peter Courtney), House Speaker (Tina Kotek) and Governor Kate Brown agreed to make passage of a meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reduction policy for Oregon a high priority for the 2019 Legislative Session. As a result, Governor Brown established a Governor’s Advisory Carbon Policy Office. Former Oregon Climate Solutions Director and one our climate coalitions strongest activists, Kristen Sheeran Ph.D. was appointed Director of this office.

Meanwhile, Speaker Kotek and President Courtney established the House/Senate  Joint Interim Committee on Carbon Reduction to develop legislation that would achieve meaningful reductions. Titled an Interim Committee because it met monthly between sessions with Speaker Kotek and President Courtney as Co-Chairs, the committee is now simply the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction (membership and contact list) as the Speaker and President have withdrawn to manage their respective chambers.  Senator Michael Dembrow and Representative Karen Power are now co-chairs, with Kotek and Courtney being replaced respectively on the committee by House District 5 Representative Pam Marsh, and District 3 Senator Jeff Golden.  Thus Southern Oregon is well-represented with two champions for meaningful legislation that does not exclude the Jordan Cove LNG Export facility and Pacific Connector Natural Gas Pipeline from coverage by the bill.

With the commitment on the part of the Governor and House and Senate leadership that a bill will pass in 2019, the Statewide Coalition of Grassroots Climate Activist Organizations led by Renew Oregon and partnered by representatives from social justice /equity organizations and labor,  developed a set of Policy Outcomes representing the principles that we wish to see incorporated in the bill and by which we will judge the bill when it appears. Note that this document does not focus on  carbon or decarbonization but on greenhouse gases and their elimination. Carbon dioxide is only mentioned in connection with its sequestration in natural and working lands. This language is consistent with the 2105 Paris Agreement, which is all about greenhouse gases and only mentions carbon appropriately in connection with forest management. The reason for this is that a focus on carbon (dioxide) gives nitrous oxide (one of the top three culprit gases) a free pass, and undervalues the impact of other carbon-containing gases (such as methane and the fluorocarbons) which are more potent than carbon dioxide. The potential consequence of this is that the program (if it focuses on carbon (dioxide) will encourage coal-fired power plants and oil-powered vehicles to switch to natural gas.  And because of the fugitive emissions of natural gas from fracking, through processing and transmission, are sufficiently large, such a conversion may produce a global warming problem as bad as, or worse, than, previously.

Additional Information

Video of the SOCAN PPT presentation on the legislation from the January 29th SOCAN General meeting 
Acknowledgement: Bella Tibbetts

2019 Clean Energy Jobs Coalition Policy Outcomes: Summarized by Alan Journet

Oregon Climate Impacts: 2019 is The Year for Bold Climate Legislation  An excellent discussion of Oregon’s history and the proposal from Juan Declet-Barreto, Climate Scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The Joint Committee


The First Meeting was held on May 22, 2018. This was an informational Hearing lasting app two and a half house. Video (2 hr 27 min) is available to download here.  Scroll down to Recent Archives and look for the date – May 22nd Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction, click and follow directions.  Presentations are:

  • Baseline Facts of Climate Change
    Phil Mote, Director, Oregon Climate Change Research Institute
  • Understanding Oregon’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions – History, Trends, and What Oregon is Already Doing
    Richard Whitman, Director, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
  • Carbon Reduction Policy Options for Oregon
    Dallas Burtraw, Darius Gaskins Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future

Second Meeting, June 26th, an informational meeting with invited speakers, video (2 hr 26 min) available here.

  • Questions and Follow-Up Discussion of Carbon Reduction Policy Options for Oregon
    Dallas Burtraw, Darius Gaskins Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future (via telephone)
  • Status Report from the Carbon Policy Office
    Kristen Sheeran, Energy and Climate Change Policy Advisor to Governor Kate Brown; Director, Carbon Policy Office
  • Forest Carbon Sequestration
    Peter Daugherty, State Forester, Oregon Department of Forestry

Third Meeting, July 24th an informational meeting with invited speakers, video (3 Hr 13 min) available hereSequestration and Adaptation on Working Lands

  • Overview
    Catherine Macdonald, Director of Policy & External Affairs, The Nature Conservancy
  • Forestry
    David Ford, Woodland Committee, American Forest Foundation; President and CEO, L&C Carbon, LLC
    Brian Kittler, Director, Western Regional Office, Pinchot Institute
  • Wetlands/Coastal
    Peter Ruggiero, Professor, College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University
    Bill Ryan, Deputy Director for Operations, Department of State Lands
    Laura Brophy, Director, Estuary Technical Group, Institute for Applied Ecology; Courtesy Faculty, Marine Resource Management Program, College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University
  • Agriculture
    Cory Owens, State Soil Scientist, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Nick Sirovatka, Agronomist, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Rangeland
    Tony Svejcar, Professor – Senior Research, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, Oregon State University.