Jun 25, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Pivotal carbon capping bill dies in Oregon Senate

Oregon State Capitol Building in Salem. Photo: Jordan McAlister/Getty Images

Oregon's Senate president said Tuesday that a landmark climate bill to enact carbon capping is dead after Republicans fled the state to avoid a vote, according to The Oregonian.

Catch up quick: The Democrat-controlled state Senate backed a bill to imp0se capping regulations on carbon emissions. As the bill neared a vote, Republicans left the state Capitol last week to stall the measure. However, with a June 30 deadline for Oregon's legislative session, all other legislation was halted by Republicans' absence, leaving Democrats with the choice of sticking to their climate efforts or pursuing the remainder of their agenda.

On Tuesday, the state Senate's President Peter Courtney told colleagues that House Bill 2020 would not have enough votes and, "That will not change,” per The Oregonian, and Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, later scolded Republicans for their avoidance of the vote.

“Senate Republicans have blocked a bill that provides a better future for our state and for our children, and the tactics they employed to do so are not just unacceptable, but dangerous,”
— Gov. Kate Brown said

The intrigue: Even amid the GOP walkout and 2 Democrats voting against it, the bill passed the House last week. In the Senate, Democrats required votes from 16 of the 18-member caucus to pass it and it was unclear whether they had the votes.

Why it matters: With President Trump repealing federal climate policy, climate activists have turned to state governments in an attempt to enact incremental change. Some state measures have seen success, as New York state's Democrat-controlled legislature approved a sweeping climate bill just last week that requires requires an 85% cut in emissions by 2050 and a goal of offsetting the remaining 15% to achieve "net-zero" by then.

  • But the Oregon bill's demise is a setback.

Our thought bubble via Axios' Amy Harder: If it’s true the bill didn’t even have enough Democrat support, it’s the latest evidence that big climate policy doesn’t necessarily have broad approval within a party that generally espouses action on climate change (to say nothing of the Republicans fleeing the state to avoid voting on it).

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