By John Ledger
Associated Oregon Industries,
In a four-hour joint hearing of the House and Senate Environment & Natural Resources Committee, five AOI manufacturers, various member associations, other AOI Member companies, the Co-Chair of the AOI Air & Energy Committee, and AOI staff, all provided testimony on SB 80, the Greenhouse Gas Cap & Trade Bill.
The bill cedes virtually all legislative authority to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to develop and implement a regional Cap & Trade system entirely by rule. The region was initially defined as those states belonging to a loose consortium called the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). Once comprised of a half dozen states and several provinces, the WCI appears to be tottering as state after state refuses to opt into the plan. In the end, California and perhaps Washington may be the only states embracing the WCI concept.
AOI’s position, adopted by the Board of Directors, is a strong preference for a national system so as not to place Oregon at a competitive disadvantage with other states.
More than 70 people testified at the hearing, with AOI members being the near sole representatives of manufacturing, the group most affected by the bill. Among those AOI members appearing before the joint committees were:
– Mike Siebers; President & CEO, Blue Heron Paper Company
– Penny Machinski; Environmental Manager, West Linn Paper Company
– Mari Chesser; Environmental Services Manager, Microchip Technology, Inc.
– Drew Gilpin; Environmental Manager, Evraz Inc., NA
– Rob Freres; Executive Vice President, Freres Lumber Company, Inc.
Each of these individuals addressed the committee and fielded questions about how their companies have made dramatic environmental improvements and undertaken energy efficiency projects well beyond anything required by law. They also described the competitive challenges they face in the global market place and how they would be affected by a regional Cap & Trade program.
The testimony from these individuals, who are responsible for actually manufacturing items and hiring workers, had a clear impact on the committee. They all did an excellent job and their testimony was well received.
In addition to the AOI manufactures, AOI Air & Energy Subcommittee Co-Chair Tom Wood, Stoel Rives LLP, also shared his expertise, emphasizing the need for Oregon to stay competitive with other states and the Pacific Rim.
The hearing ended at 7:00 p.m. with no vote taken and none scheduled.