Senate leaders agree on $343.5M transport deal

The deal includes the repeal of the Clean Fuels Program.

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Senate leaders agreed on a transportation-funding deal worth $343.5 million. It includes the repeal of the Clean Fuels Program passed earlier this session.

The Oregonian reports that Senate President Peter Courtney and Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli “finalized details after the four senators in Gov. Kate Brown’s ‘Gang of Eight’ reached consensus earlier in the day.”

The deal comes after weeks of closed-door meetings orchestrated by Brown in hopes of finding money for road fixes and other transportation projects — meetings that inflamed House Democrats and environmental groups opposed to dropping the carbon-reducing measures signed into law March 12. Sources close to the deal-making confirmed Tuesday that Senate leaders and Brown are going ahead with a strategy to pass the legislation in the Senate in hopes of then forcing it through the House.

Leaders are also forming a six-member special Senate committee — three Republicans and three Democrats — to shepherd the bill to passage. It will be headed by Sen. Chris Edwards, a Eugene Democrat who also chairs the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, as well as Sens. Fred Girod, R-Stayton; Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg; Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Beaverton; Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls; and Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose.


As expected, environmental groups were upset.

In Washington, a provision has been inserted in the state’s transportation package that would prevent the Governor from using his executive authority to take action on clean fuels. Environmental groups say the oil industry is behind efforts in both states. California and British Columbia already have clean fuels laws in place.

“If Oregon and Washington move forward, it would mean that the four provinces – that make the fifth-largest economy in the world – would have a clean fuels market locked on the West Coast,” said Max Muller, Oregon communications manager for Climate Solutions, a nonprofit clean energy group. “That would directly threaten the oil industry’s longstanding monopoly on transportation fuels,” Muller said. “In short, the oil industry is engaged in an exhaustive, multi-pronged effort to block a West Coast market for clean fuels and other alternatives to oil.”

(SOURCE: Statesman-Journal)

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