Facts would kill emissions scheme

Having failed to screw up the Oregon economy with a cap-and-trade scheme on greenhouse gases, Democrats in the legislature are promising to try again in 2019, and then they aim to succeed.

Senate President Peter Courtney has vowed that the 2019 assembly will pass this climate-change measure and anybody against it had better not show up, or words to that effect. But if facts rather than emotion counted for anything, this effort to increase regulation, the size of the state bureaucracy, and the cost of everything that depends on energy would have no chance.

The complicated program of regulations and other provisions proposed by Democrats during the short session this year took six pages of dense type just to summarize. It would have empowered the appointed Environmental Quality Commission to set limits on the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. But emissions beyond the limits could continue as long as the industries affected paid the state money for "allowances." The revenue would be used to fund various programs to promote favored industries, regions or companies that could claim to combat climate change.

Voters should demand to know exactly how this scheme would prevent what changes in the climate of Oregon, the country or the world. And how much this would cost.

The legislature has no firm information on any helpful effect that this plan would have. But it has been provided definite data on the harm it would cause.

Among the latter, it has testimony from the Ash Grove Cement Company, which operates Oregon's sole cement manufacturing company in Durkee in Baker County. The plant has 112 employees and has been around for 135 years. The Democrats' climate bill would force it to shut down.

Ash Grove explains how cement is made. Crushed limestone and other materials are heated to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The process liberates CO2 from limestone. "The CO2 released from the heated limestone cannot be controlled or reduced, no matter where it is produced or the efficiency of the process used to produce it."

The company says it costs about the same to import cement from China as it does to buy it from the Durkee plant. If the plant had to pay for state "allowances," it would have to go out of business. And because China uses largely coal-fired electricity to sustain its cement-making capacity (15 times larger than that of the U.S.), the Oregon bill would cause an increase in global CO2 production of roughly 380,000 tons per year.

That's the kind of calculation that shows how destructive this Oregon legislation would likely be. It's hard to see how Democrats in the legislature or anybody else could be in favor of something like that. (hh)


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