California’s cap and trade program went into effect in January of 2012. Since then, it has been successful in raising billions of dollars for politicians to spend on pet projects and driving away manufacturing jobs. It has not been successful in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which is why no other state has implemented a similar program.

Oregon lawmakers shouldn’t be the first to follow California over this cliff.

Supporters of cap and trade in California recently celebrated when the state achieved the goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. What they failed to mention is that cap and trade played no role in that accomplishment:

“We conclude, based on available emissions and electricity data, that the state’s cap-and-trade program is not driving observed reductions[1].”

So what is responsible for California’s falling emissions?

According to analyses from the California Air Resources Board and independent experts, California’s emissions reductions were largely due to more available hydropower from increased water supplies:

“Reported emissions decreased for in-state electricity generation due to an increase in in-state hydroelectric power production, with a corresponding decrease in natural gas electricity production[2].”

“According to analyses from the air board and independent experts, last year’s emissions drops came about not because of technological breakthroughs or drastic pollution reductions from oil refineries or other industries, nor did the lauded cap-and-trade program make a significant difference. It was the rain[3].”

The increase in hydropower generation, corresponding decrease in natural gas generation, and the expansion of large wind and solar electricity generation facilities drove the decreases.

“And the air board’s report credits electricity generation for the biggest cuts: Emissions from in-state electricity generation decreased more than 19 percent last year, and emissions from imported electricity dropped nearly 23 percent. And California’s policy continues to add green power to the grid: Large-scale solar generation increased by 32 percent and wind generation increased by 11 percent.”

Oregon just enacted a new law to require more electricity generation from wind and solar, and it hasn’t even been implemented yet.

Why are Oregon lawmakers proposing to enact a complicated cap and trade system with no track record of success when we’ve already passed other laws that work?

It’s simple: the money.

The nonpartisan California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated cap and trade would increase gas prices in California by up to $.63 per gallon in 2021, and up to $.73 per gallon in 2031.  They estimate that California motorists will pay at a minimum $2 billion more for gasoline per year and, potentially, as much as $8 billion[4]. All of this money goes right into the pockets of politicians.

What are they spending it on? In the last four years alone, an incredible $1.33 billionhas been directly appropriated for California’s high-speed rail boondoggle. This figure doesn’t even include a $400 million loan to the project that is to be paid by future cap and trade revenues[5]. Some spending is directed, such as high-speed rail, but a full 40 percent of annual cap and trade revenues are simply handed to politicians to spend on whatever they want[6].

This is why Oregon lawmakers want cap and trade.  They say it’s about climate change, but it’s not. There’s no evidence cap and trade reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It’s just a way to raise taxes on Oregon families, farmers, and employers.

[1]Danny Cullenward, Mason Inman, And Michael Mastrandrea, “California’s Climate Emissions Are Falling, But Cap-And-Trade Is Not The Cause,” Near Zero, 11/10/17

[2]“Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting 2016 Emissions Year Frequently Asked Questions,” California Air Resources Board, 11/6/17

[3]Julie Cart, “California’s Emissions Dip—But Climate Policies Get Less Credit Than The Weather,” CALmatters, 11/29/17

[4]Legislative Analyst’s Office letter to State Rep. Vince Fong (3/29/17)

[5]Legislative Analyst’s Office 2017-2018 Budget: Cap and Trade (Feb 2017)