After touring around the state to collect regional input on a cap and trade program, the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction released the long awaited omnibus amendment to HB 2020, cap and trade legislation that was originally debuted in February. During the March 25 committee meeting, Legislative Counsel Maureen McGee provided a section-by-section overview of the 129-page amendment, drafted as a ‘gut and stuff’ replacing most of the language of the original bill. To watch the overview of the amendment and committee discussion, click here.
While the amendment is still under review by staff, Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) Interim Executive Director Mike Eliason identified several key immediate changes to the program that are of direct interest to counties:
- The 50 percent split of fuel tax revenue between state and local governments is reinstated. However, this comes with the inclusion of metropolitan planning organizations as a recipient of funds. This revenue split also creates a competitive grant program, potentially forcing local governments to come up with matching funds in order to receive grants. Much of the detail is proposed to be fleshed out in agency rulemaking, making it hard to determine how the program would actually work.
- Public contracting provisions of the bill were modified, but to the detriment of counties, including more restrictive contracting standards.
- The new language directs the Oregon Department of Transportation to create a rebate program for the increased cost of fuel for households that make below 100 percent of Oregon’s median income.
- Some key industry exemptions have been removed from the bill, including the exemption for Intel and other high-tech manufacturing plants and waste incinerators.
- Under the original proposal, guaranteed credits were awarded to certain sectors that would experience hardship. Under the new proposal, those credits have been reduced.
- No clarity on cost containment has been provided to the natural gas sector through the amendment. Northwest Natural indicated the first iteration of the bill would lead to large rate increases for customers, and has remarked that nothing has improved in the amendment. Discussions are ongoing.
AOC will continue to analyze the impact of the amendments to the transportation and forestry sectors and advocate on behalf of the needs of counties as further negotiations continue in the coming weeks.
Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate