No matter what its supporters assert, Oregon House Bill 2020 isn’t ready for primetime.
HB 2020 is the hopelessly complicated climate change legislation that has evolved into the key bill for Democrats in the 2019 session. The bill is grounded in good intentions. The global climate is changing, and humans are the cause. Just about everyone can agree we should — and must — do something to improve the environment and to battle climate change. How to do that, though, is where it gets complicated and HB 2020 is exhibit A in just how good intentions can quickly become convoluted and dense.
The legislation will create a mandatory, statewide greenhouse gas emission reduction plan. The emission reduction plan targets companies that discharge more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents each year. Carbon dioxide equivalents are a collection used to measure how much green house gas is entering the atmosphere.
Supporters of the bill assert it will help the environment and curb climate change. Opponents believe the plan will hike gas prices, hurt the economy and drive major firms away from the state. Who is correct is a matter of opinion and party affiliation.
While nearly byzantine in its form, HB 2020 is also not a piece of legislation that will get the necessary review and debate it needs. Democrats hold a super majority at the Legislature, which means they can pretty much push through whatever legislation they want unmolested.
Also troubling is the fact that Democratic lawmakers have signaled time and again they are not going to listen to input from their Republican brethren on the bill. They are going to jam it through regardless.
Democracy works when there is debate, discussion and compromise. When one party takes power — whether it is Republican or Democrat — and operates more like a faction than a group of lawmakers determined to do the people’s business, Democracy loses.
A few years ago, lawmakers joined together, created and passed a massive transportation bill. Legislators — on both sides of the aisle — spent more than a year traveling the state, holding public meetings to gather input on the legislation. Lawmakers used a methodical process to fine tune the transportation legislation.
Now, they should do the same with House Bill 2020. Shoving through the legislation may salve the consciousness of would-be world savers but it won’t help Democracy and it won’t help the state.
HB 2020 isn’t ready for primetime. Not yet.