""One can expect there will be accelerated opportunities for job creation in clean energy, technology, forest and agriculture activities."

Fact Check: The Arguments Against The Climate Bill SB1530

Now that the Republican Senators have walked off their jobs to deny quorum and prevent the Democratic process from moving forward, social media and press releases are awash with the “reasoning” talking points that they have been provided.

“SB 1530 will bankrupt rural Oregon.”

  • We know that we are one Oregon, but we also know that we are a state of many regions and many needs.
  • SB 1530 includes many changes that will enhance the benefits to rural Oregon and protect rural Oregonians from any disruptions.
  • We are now gradually phasing in any impacts on gasoline prices by region, so that rural residents on the West side of the state won’t see any impacts until 2025 and those east of the Cascades won’t see them at all. 
  • We can include 85% of the state’s gasoline emissions in 2025 without touching the vast majority of the geography of this state.
  • Low- to moderate income residents everywhere will receive a tax credit that will fully offset any increased driving costs.
  • Recognizing that they drive more, residents of rural counties will receive larger tax credits. 
  • There will be full refunds for increases in the cost of fuel used for off-road agricultural and forestry operations.
  • The amended version of SB 1530 simplifies the way the geographic phase-in is done.  For the most part, it will now be done by county, making the administration of the program easier and simpler.  As a result, the Fuels Association has removed its objections.
  • We have modified the way that manufacturers are handled in order to protect rural jobs.  As a result, rural manufacturers (e.g., in the food processing industries) have removed their opposition to the bill.
  • In addition changes to the bill have increased its economic benefits for rural Oregon.
  • Most of the investments of the program are geared to benefit rural Oregon and tribes (making our forests healthier, improving irrigation and weatherizing rural homes).
  • Through its “offsets” provisions, the bill will generate big investments in dairy biodigesters and forestry projects, keeping forests as working forests.
  • Rural Oregon is already benefiting from renewable energy projects (wind, solar, biofuels, geothermal) and is poised to benefit much more with the incentives and training dollars in SB 1530.  Thousands of jobs will be created.
  • Outside analyses (including one done by AOI) have shown that the economic impact of earlier versions of SB 1530 would actually benefit rural and frontier Oregon more than other parts of the state.  SB 1530 makes that even more true.
  • Experience in California, Québec, and the northeastern states (who use cap & trade for their power sector) has not shown economic or employment harm to their rural regions.  On the contrary, investments in the rural parts of California and Québec as a result of their program have benefited those regions in many ways.
  • Finally, rural and frontier Oregonians live in the front lines of climate change (fires, loss of snowcap, drought, rising sea levels, ocean acidification). If Oregon’s actions encourage climate action in other states and slow down the pace of this crisis, they will benefit most of all.

“SB 1530 will hurt low-income Oregonians.”

  • The bill includes MANY protections for low-income Oregonians, whose needs are kept front and center.
  • Low-income natural gas customers will see no rise in their bills.
  • Low- to moderate income residents ($65K for a family of 4) everywhere will receive a tax credit that will fully offset any increased driving costs.
  • Most investments are geared to benefit low-income Oregonians everywhere.
  • Extensive investments in training and retraining for the clean-energy economy will provide new pathways to opportunity for low-income families all over the state.

“SB 1530 exempts government from public records laws.”

  • The program is subject to ALL the usual public records and open meetings laws.
  • Section 32 does protect confidential business information that would be considered “trade secrets”; this is absolutely usual and necessary when government needs to regulate the private sector.
  • This is something that all journalists are used to.

“The emergency clause in SB 1530 is intended to deny the people’s ability to challenge this law.”

  • The emergency clause is there because we ARE in a climate emergency and the work on the program must begin immediately.
  • A 2019 opinion from Legislative Counsel makes it clear that the Emergency Clause does nothing to impair the people’s ability to put any piece of legislation on the ballot through the initiative process.
  • The reason we have a Legislature is to work on tough, far-reaching, crucial issues that require extensive research, discussion, debate, and compromise.
  • SB 1530 is a balanced, carefully crafted, highly researched bill, incorporating work that has been going on for years, and including ideas suggested by legislators from both parties.
  • On the ballot, it will be reduced to a series of sound bites and slanted TV ads, funded by tens of millions of special-interest dollars.
  • The people have voted—they voted to send Legislators to Salem to work hard on their behalf. Every one of the Democrats elected in 2018 ran with climate action as one of their main priorities, defeating Republicans who unfortunately took a contrary position. Legislators are doing what they were elected to do. 

“SB 1530 puts all the power in the hands of un-elected bureaucrats.”

  • Amendments will make it clear that the appointed Board’s budget decisions are advisory only.  They will still need to go through our normal Ways and Means process and receive approval from elected legislators.  So will the state agencies implementing the program. That’s how good government should work.

“SB 1530 is not based on settled science,” or “Climate change is natural, not human-caused.”

  • Legislators need to rely on the best science that’s out there.
  • That’s why the Legislature in 2007 created the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, based at OSU, to scan the scientific literature, evaluate its validity, summarize their findings, and report and make recommendations to the Legislature every 2 years.
  • They’ve told us that climate change is real, we’re already feeling its consequences, it can be mitigated, but if we don’t, the future consequences will be catastrophic and hugely expensive for Oregon.
  • SB 1530 is based entirely on their recommendations.

“We shouldn’t be doing this in a short session.”

  • One of the purposes of the short session has always been to continue work on bills that had been thoroughly worked on in the previous session, but didn’t quite make it over the finish line.  The short session is designed to finish up that work.
  • The earlier version of SB 1530 had hundreds of hours of public testimony in Salem and around the state, thousands of pages of written testimony and studies, passed the House after six hours of open debate, and only failed to advance in the Senate because the Republicans walked out.
  •  SB 1530 is the result of many hours of bipartisan discussion since November.
  • Despite this being a short session, we will have more hours of public testimony on this bill than we normally have in a long session, not counting all the hours we’ve already spent hearing from the public on this issue in the past.

“Other countries are the real culprits.  They’re the ones who should be stepping up.”

  • In the absence of national action, states must step up and act together.
  • As legislators, we learn from other states.  What works, what doesn’t.
  • It’s not just about Oregon.  If Oregon acts, other states such as Washington will step up and join us.
  • If we join California, Washington, and British Columbia (both CA and BC already have economy-wide climate programs) in this effort, we will be part of the world’s FIFTH largest economy.  We can make a real difference.

“This bill will make Oregon less competitive.”

Dr. Dallas Burtraw, senior fellow at Resources for the Future and a member of the American Academy of Sciences, was asked to provide an assessment of SB 1530 before amendments were made.  His lengthy assessment concluded with the following:

“When carbon pricing is implemented in 2022, the anticipated emissions reductions will be achieved without any specific impacts that are noticeable to the vast majority of Oregon households and businesses. There should be virtually zero disruptions in employment, but over time one can expect there will be accelerated opportunities for job creation in clean energy, technology, forest and agriculture activities. Oregon’s legislative decision is likely to influence policy outcomes in other states and internationally.”