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Carbon fee proposed by Oregon legislators

Carbon fee proposed by Oregon legislators

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Oregon would slap new fees on all

carbon-based energy including motor fuel under the draft of legislation pending in Salem.

An industry group opposing the idea says it would result in "cripplingly higher electricity rates" and also raise the prices for gasoline, natural gas and other fuels.

But the backers of the proposal may not be serious.

"I understand it was floated out there as a scare tactic," state Sen. Frank Morse, R-Albany, said last week.

Senate Bill 80, pending in the Senate, would create a "cap and trade" system to reduce carbon emissions in the interest of slowing global warming. Generators of greenhouse gases would have to buy state-issued credits in order to meet increasingly tougher emission standards.

A couple of weeks ago, Sens. Jackie Dingfelder of Portland and Vicki Walker of Eugene proposed an amendment. Unless they buy offsetting credits at a price of at least $2 a metric ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent, the proposed amendment to the climate bill would prohibit investor-owned utilities such as Pacific Power from selling or generating carbon-based electricity in Oregon starting in January.

An industry coalition said the price of carrying out the amendment would be more than $11 billion over the next nine years.

"This scheme is all pain and no gain," said Erica Hagedorn, a lobbyist and spokeswoman for the group, Oregonians for Balanced Climate Policy.

Dingfelder and Walker said Friday that a group of stakeholders working on the climate bill had agreed to say nothing publicly for now.

Dingfelder, chair of the Senate Environmental and Natural Resources Committee, said the stakeholder group was working to develop a consensus bill.

"It is expected that we will know by next week whether a consensus is possible," Dingfelder told the D-H. "Until then the parties committed to refrain from comments on any specific proposal, and I am honoring that request."

Walker added: "The only thing I can tell you with utmost certainty is that SB 80 will not include a proposal for cap and trade."

A hearing is tentatively scheduled Thursday in the Environment & Natural Resources Committee.

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