Lawmakers hear arguments in favor of carbon pricing

A group of economists write a letter urging support for a carbon cap-and-dividend program.

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A bill in front of the Oregon House of Representatives would create one of the most stringent carbon pricing schemes in the country.

House Bill 3250 aims to set a price on carbon and then distribute revenue back to residents, the Statesman Journal reports.

“Oregon’s role in this global crisis is to build the model that inspires federal action,” Dan Golden, Oregon Climate’s policy director, said in a written statement. “HB 3250 is a revenue-neutral proposal: it would prove that the climate crisis need not be solved on the backs of low-income families.”

Oregon is aiming to cut greenhouse emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and by at least 75 percent by 2050. Last year, former Gov. John Kitzhaber pledged that Oregon would join California and British Columbia in putting a price on carbon emissions.

A group of economists threw their support behind the measure, reports the Portland Business Journal.

“What we’re saying is that a carbon pricing policy done right is an efficient, effective, fair and transparent way for Oregon to help reduce the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change,” said Randall Bluffstone, director of the PSU Institute for Economics and the Environment and an Institute for Sustainable Solutions Fellow. “There is the potential here for big gains for the environment without an adverse effect on the economy.” …

In December, the Northwest Economic Research Center at Portland State University issued a report saying that such a tax would dramatically reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions without significantly affecting the economy or job base. The study evaluated the impact of taxing carbon at rates varying from $10 per ton to $150. It found that a $10 tax would be ineffective but that a $60 tax would cut emissions by 26 percent and raise $2.35 billion in new taxes.

Summaries of the carbon bills:

HB3250: Requires Environmental Quality Commission to adopt carbon cap-and-dividend program.

HB3252: Imposes tax on each fuel supplier and utility based on amount of carbon in carbon-based fuel that is sold by fuel supplier to consumers in this state or that is used to produce carbon-generated electricity supplied by utility to consumers in this state.

HB3470: Requires Environmental Quality Commission to adopt by rule statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits for years 2020 and 2050 and to adopt interim statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits consistent with 2050 limit every five years.

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