LA GRANDE — The Union County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to weigh in on the cap and trade debate that is again sparking heated controversy in the Legislature.
The commissioners voted to send a letter to the Oregon Legislature expressing concerns about Senate Bill 1530 and House Bill 4159, the greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade bills now before lawmakers.
The county will draft the letter after the final versions of the bills are in place and will express opposition to both, said Commissioner Donna Beverage. The commissioners voted to wait rather than send a letter immediately because they want to be in a position to address any amendments to the bills.
Two paragraphs in the letter likely will be similar or identical to one the county board seriously considered sending Wednesday. The paragraphs contain two reasons why the board is opposed to HB 4159 and SB 1530. The commissioners agree on both, Beverage said.
The first paragraph asks for an ecological and economic study of the potential effects of the legislation on each of the 36 counties in Oregon.
"We are concerned that positions and opinions on both sides of this issue have been made based upon partisan politics and philosophical positioning rather than fact," the letter states.
The second paragraph requests the removal of the emergency clause from both bills.
"While we are not arguing on whether Catastrophic Climate Change is an emergency, we would argue that rushed decisions without an opportunity for the people of Oregon to speak is not how our great State should do business," the letter states.
Beverage said one of the most concerning aspects of the legislation is the imposition of additional fuel taxes. She said they would hit rural Oregonians particularly hard because they are much more reliant on fuel for their livelihoods than people who live in urban areas.
"It would be devastating," Beverage said.