By Kristin Eberhart, Sightline Institute.
Could 2018 be the year that Oregon and Washington join BC and California and make climate polluters pay? Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, is pushing a carbon tax (more on that soon), and Oregon legislators are again considering legislation to limit carbon pollution and invest in clean energy and other good things. In 2017, a bill to cap pollution, enforce the cap with limited allowances, and invest the revenue in Oregon attracted 33 co-sponsors. Work groups continued hammering out the details in the fall. The 2018 bill reflects years of refining, has Governor Kate Brown’s support, and is ready for the legislature to pass.
Urgent need for action
Climate change is already threatening Oregon with declining snowpack, wildfires (which are only getting worse), flooding, and ocean acidification. Oregonians see these changes and want to take action. In fact, Oregon law says the state should reduce pollution 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 75 percent below by 2050. But the state is not on track to meet its climate goals. Frankly, Oregon can’t even see the track from where it stands. The chart below shows the yawning chasm between where Oregon wants to head (the green line) and where it is actually headed (the orange line).