Albany's state representative, Shelly Boshart Davis, recently wrote that a cap and trade policy to combat climate change would be too costly, because it would disproportionately impact rural Oregon. While this is a valid concern, it is not a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Instead of abandoning cap and trade, the details of the policy should be crafted to avoid disparate impacts. For example, revenue from cap and trade could be invested into expanding infrastructure for electric vehicles and other technology and practices to try and minimize reliance on burning fossil fuels and incentivizing alternatives to alleviate the pressure from the potential increases in costs for rural residents.
This argument also omits the costs a changing climate will have on rural Oregon in the long term. The cost-benefit analysis has been framed by those opposed to this policy as the cost cap and trade vs. nothing, instead of the more accurate comparison of the cost of cap and trade vs. the cost of unmitigated climate change. Rural Oregon especially has a lot to lose to climate change since its main industries, agriculture and forestry, are climate-sensitive and will experience major economic disruptions with worsening changes in the climate.
Rather than ignoring or delaying action on climate change by simply dismissing cap and trade, it would be more beneficial to either flesh out the details of the policy or propose an alternative. The worst thing we can do is nothing.
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Albany (Aug. 26)