Salem, Ore. – Co-Chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Carbon Reduction Committee on Monday attempted to defend the process by which the yet-to-be released cap and trade bill has been drafted. Sen. Michael Dembrow and Rep. Karin Power claimed in interviews and public comments this week that they rejected criticisms levied by Oregonians, employers and even their colleagues serving alongside them on the committee that the bill had been developed behind closed doors. However, a review of legislative records shows the last time lawmakers accepted public testimony on cap and trade was February 22, 2018, 341 days ago.
“Public access to the legislative process is and has always been a hallmark of the Oregon Legislature,” said Preston Mann, spokesman for Partnership for Oregon Communities. “But despite lawmakers’ claims of an inclusive process, it’s been almost an entire year since Oregonians had a chance to testify for or against cap and trade. That’s not right. Every single Oregonian deserves a fair and equal opportunity to make their voice heard on this subject.”
Even lawmakers serving on the Legislature’s committee have been critical of the cap and trade bill drafting process. The Portland Business Journal highlighted the growing discord in a story published Monday:
Sen. Cliff Bentz, an Ontario Republican, said he’d devoted hundreds if not thousands of hours to cap and trade over the course of the past year, but had been shut out of discussions since just before Christmas.
“You can imagine my disquiet when over the past month I’ve heard nothing about this committee’s efforts to write the bill that I’ve worked so hard on to make sure we get right,” Bentz said Friday at a meeting Friday of the Carbon Reduction Committee, which is taking the lead in consideration of the legislation.
According to a review of the Legislature’s public information system, the last time lawmakers took public testimony on cap and trade was February 22, 2018 in the House Energy and Environment Committee. The Joint Carbon Reduction Committee, which is tasked with considering cap and trade legislation, has met nine times and has never taken testimony from the public.
The Co-Chairs of the cap and trade committee have said a draft of the bill will finally be made public sometime Thursday, with the next committee meeting taking place Friday. The committee will, again, not be accepting public testimony.
About Partnership for Oregon Communities
Partnership for Oregon Communities is a grassroots coalition committed to enacting policies that both increase the financial security of Oregonians and protections for our environment. It is comprised of farmers, employers, unions and community leaders from around the state. For more information, please visit partnershipfororegon.com.