A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Reducing carbon without being forced

Written May 17th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Here’s a carbon-reduction transportation device the legislature’s carbon reduction bill has completely ignored.

The legislature’s approach to cutting back our emissions of carbon dioxide is to enlarge the state bureaucracy with the power to impose rules and raise the price of fossil fuels. Simple steps that would save Albany residents money and actually lessen CO2 get no mention in the 182-page bill.

HB 2020, the Democrats’ Oregon Climate Action Program, cleared the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction Friday on a vote of 8-5. Albany’s Shelly Boshart Davis was one of the no votes.

With the goal of setting an example for the world, the program is intended to lower Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions so that by 2050, they would be 80 percent lower than in 1990. This is supposed to be accomplished by charging utilities and industries, including the fuel industry, money for the amount of emissions they cause. Overall there would be a limit on emissions, and the limit would be lowered every year. Covered entities would bid in state auctions for emission allowances, and the cost of this would be passed on to Oregonians who heat or cool their homes, run their vehicles, and operate their businesses.

The proponents insist that somehow this will increase the number of jobs. It will — in state government. The bill establishes a new Carbon Policy Office, which would have dozens of employees and issue rules to carry out — and enforce — the program. There would be an Oregon Climate Board and a Joint Committee on Climate Action. For the coming biennium, all this will cost an additional $22.3 million in state costs alone, and perhaps significantly more in coming biennia, according to the budget forecast for the bill.

The costs to the general public will be greater still as every covered business tries to pass on the cost to comply.

Assuming that we all want to — and should — reduce our contributions to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, there’s got to be a better way, and there is. It lies in individual actions and changes in technology that are already taking place, without any government force, but that could be further encouraged by the right kind of policies.

Why don’t we give incentives to taxpayers to commute to work on a bike rather than in their truck at least two or three times a week? (Electric bikes make it feasible for even the less than athletic.) How about encouraging active transportation of that kind by modifying our streets to lure more citizens out of their cars? How about accelerating the installation of solar panels on residential roofs by lowering a homeowner’s property tax bill for having one installed?

The  young, Oregonians now in school and college, are committed to reducing their carbon footprint with simpler living, including less driving. By 2050, they might just achieve a significant carbon reduction without all the government control, loss of liberty, and additional costs that our current legislature wants to impose. (hh)

19 responses to “Reducing carbon without being forced”

  1. Bob Zybach says:

    Hasso: Good points, all. I am not a person who believes we need to reduce our “carbon footprint” for any particular reason, but I do think there is a lot of value in moderating our use of fossil fuels, exercising more, better urban planning, etc. Your concern about increased numbers of Salem bureaucrats is well founded and needs to be considered more seriously than most people seem to realize. HB 2020 will not have an iota of an effect on local, regional, or global climate other than the costly hot air it will help from Salem. One more self-inflicted boondoggle if we are not careful or more aware. In my opinion.

  2. Bob says:

    I like your incentive ideas. I took advantage of Obama’s energy incentive program when he first became president and replaced all of my leaky single pane windows with new double pane.

  3. HowlingCicada says:

    As you have shown, one doesn’t need to be a climate “alarmist” or a leftist of any kind to support active transportation. Some ideas for a better future:

    1 – Recognize that private car ownership and use costs society a lot more than the price directly paid to own and drive a car. Chief among these costs is the enormous value of urban land devoted to parking, oversize streets, and extra highway lanes. Another big cost is the quality-of-life loss and medical expense due to inactivity and consequent obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, etc. And don’t forget the miles and miles of ugliness produced by mixing retail business, vast parking lots, and highways, with ever bigger signs to command attention from drivers at dangerous speed.

    2 – Fix the incentives: Higher gas tax. Congestion fees. Eliminate free parking. Get rid of required parking-space minimums. Encourage apartment leases which only provide for parking (possibly off-site) for a substantial extra charge. Allow higher density for apartments which will (by enforced contract) rent only to non-car-owners. Generally, separate parking space (geographically and economically) from residential and business space as much as possible, so that parking becomes a distinct commodity whose price rises to meet the real cost of providing it, giving people a greater incentive to not drive, and easing the gradual conversion of parking space to a “better and higher use.”

    3 – Having gotten this far, “modifying our streets to lure more citizens out of their cars” should be an easy sell, along with good accomodation for people walking, bicycles, e-bikes, wheelchairs, small golf carts, cargo trolleys (like those big Home Depot shopping carts – every apartment should have them to lend), etc.

  4. J. Jacobson says:

    This Albany voter is not as impressed by Rep. Boshart Davis and her Nay committee vote on HB 2020. It reflects on the representative’s shallow understanding of important issues affecting Oregonians. Here’s another example.

    Just this past April, the legislature began considering a bill which would require Oregon juries to reach a unanimous vote to convict in criminal cases.

    Currently, Oregon is the ONLY state in the union where a 10-2 vote is good enough to convict. Even Louisiana changed that state’s laws to eliminate this horrid vestige or racism.

    At any rate, I emailed Representative Boshart Davis, urging her to support this change in the State constitution.

    Here is what she replied: “This is interesting. I did not know that Oregon was the last state in the Union that allowed this. Thank you for bringing it to my attention as something our community cares about.”

    If this lack of knowledge is all it takes to become the representative of the people of Albany, then the people of Albany are a bunch of damn fools for having put this person in power.

    So, Mr. Herring, you might consider NOT holding Boshart Davis up as some sort of admirable legislator because she voted no to stop climate change. She doesn’t even understand the state’s founding documents.

  5. Don says:

    Need to read “INeffective Facts” by Wrightstone or “Luke Warming” by Patrick Michaels.

    • HowlingCicada says:

      Searching for your first title got me nothing but THIS page. Try “Inconvenient Facts” by Wrightstone. Note: trying to be helpful does not signify agreement.

  6. Jim Engel says:

    I don’t think “KISS-keep it simple stupid” is in the State’s vocabulary. They just think of their college education, “P.H.D-piled higher & deeper”.

  7. Ken Horvath says:

    I expect that the reduction in climate heat due to the carbon savings from Oregon will be more than offset by the additional hot air coming from the new Carbon Policy Office.

  8. thomas cordier says:

    Because Oregon has so much standing timber, we are already a net carbon negative state. Meaning forests consume more carbon that is generated in Oregon. The whole argument is bogus. Same is true for renewable energy goals. Hydropower generated in Oregon is deemed NOT renewable. It makes up 70% of electric power and so we spend millions on wind power.. We all count on our rain/snow to be renewed each year, but bureaucrats won’t count it renewable. More gov’t BS

    • HowlingCicada says:

      “””Because Oregon has so much standing timber, we are already a net carbon negative state.”””

      Making that the basis for policy is like saying that people who inherit lots of money needn’t bother to improve themselves. We just happen to be luckier than most of the world because of our geography, climate, and relatively low population. Same for hydropower, the potential for which is just pure luck. Climate change is a global problem that needs effort from everyone, everywhere, not just the unlucky.

      • thomas cordier says:

        Sounds like H.C. has drunk the cool-aid. Forget the data/facts, we just need to follow along and be happy

    • centrist says:

      Hydro is dependable, but not guaranteed. Generation is a balance between grid-need, water availability, prudent river flow, with a touch of fish preservation.
      Wind is currently a wildchild. There’s no current technology to balance the grid immediately when the wind drops. Well, actually there is. Rapid start gas turbine with HRSG. Under development is storage (battery) to provide ridethru.
      Once upon a time, I followed the BPA grid to sort out whether a small generator should run or idle. Many days, wind production exceeded hydro production.
      As far a the point that the Oregon forests more than balance the population’s emission, are you saying that’s good enough? Heck fire, there’s money to be made, just not with the traditional grid.

  9. Rebecca says:

    Yes! Your taxpayer incentive ideas would be much more effective than the government-knows-best legislation of HB 2020. I hope many Oregonians will contact their legislators in Salem and get those ideas into motion.

  10. Collin Ansell says:

    Once again Our Statepersons have forgotten that 3/4 of Oregon doesn’t live 5 to 15 minutes from stores or other places.
    The families on a ranch at lets say Fort Rock, Fossil, Jordan Valley or Enterprise have needs of gas/diesel or other fuels at an affordable price and not taxed to suit the enviros.
    So when Politicians pass laws they need to take in to count the far reaches of Oregon.

  11. Lundy says:

    Oregon’s government bureaucracy has been off the rails for some time, but reducing emissions is a worthwhile goal and HH’s incentivized approach is an intelligent way to try to meet it. On an unrelated topic, introduced by Mr. Cordier, I’ll remind folks that “drink the Kool-Aid” is a poor cliche unless you’re interested in making light of the hundreds who died at Jonestown. Especially having worked with someone who lost a sister there, I’d like to see that phrase disappear from the lexicon.

    • centrist says:

      Well said on both points.
      The only time I felt comfortable using the koolaid reference was during a company reorg that felt cult-driven and personality led. Many of us pushed back and worked for change. The folks at Jonestown didn’t seem to have that choice. Rest their souls

    • HowlingCicada says:

      I’d forgotten all about Jonestown and assumed the Kool-Aid reference was all about LSD-laced punch.

      • thomas cordier says:

        perhaps some view the Kool-aid reference as gross, And indeed it is.
        It is gross example of ignorance of some people who ignore the possibility of being duped into believing life will be better is we form a commune in another country run by a maniac manipulator—who then lose their lives because of their gullibility. That reference applies to those who support the current track of Oregon legislature

  12. NancyM. says:

    Re:Carbon footprint…If there was a decent mass transit system run
    on a frequent, safe and timely and dependable schedule we wouldn’t need cars. Hear,
    hear J. Jacobson! Albany citizens need to clear out the “swamp” on the
    council as well as City Hall and pay attention for a change. It is so liberally
    biased. Isn’t our local government to be non-partisan?


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