Archive for November, 2008

Whitsett sums up Oregon politics, reviews 09 year

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Monday, 24 November 2008
The 2008 Oregon elections are completed, and the people have decided who will represent them for the next two to four years. Once again, the 80% of the people who live within 20 miles of the Willamette River have dominated the outcome of the election.
I do sincerely thank all those who voted to re-elect me to a second term in the Oregon Senate. Nearly 98% of those who voted, supported my re-election as your State Senator in our five county District 28.

With the single exception of our Congressman Greg Walden, all of Oregon’s
congressional seats are now held by Democrats. All statewide offices including Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Attorney General, Commissioner of Labor and Commissioner of Education are held by Democrats. Virtually all agency directors are Democrats appointed by the Democrat Governor. In Oregon, fourteen of seventeen Supreme Court and Appellate Court Justices, most District Court Judges, and most District Attorneys have been appointed by Democrat governors as well.

The Oregon Senate is dominated by an 18 to 12 Democrat majority. That majority has selected a Democrat, Senator Peter Courtney, to continue to serve in the most powerful office as Senate President. He will assign all committee chairmanships as well as assign all Senate members to committees. The committee chairs serve at the pleasure of the President.
He will assign all introduced bills to committees, and he will decide what bills will, or will not, receive hearings.

The Senate Republicans did pick up one seat when Chris Telfer won her election in Deschutes County. However, the House Democrats gained 5 seats including two from previously considered safe Republican districts including one east of the Cascades.

The Oregon House of Representatives is now dominated by a 36 to 24 Democrat majority. That 36 seat majority provides both the House and the Senate with 60% Democrat majorities allowing them to increase and pass new taxes without a single concurring Republican vote.

In fact, if the Democrat majority votes together, they now have an insurmountable margin that will allow them to pass any law they choose, except for the passage of a constitutional amendment.

The House Democrats have selected Representative Dave Hunt as the new Speaker of the House since former Speaker Jeff Merkley is now our United States Senator. The Speaker has similar powers to the Senate President, except for having the additional powers of controlling all tax and revenue bills, which must originate in the House.

We may expect to see a variety of new taxes introduced, such as some form of a retail sales tax, a real estate transfer tax, and increased document recording taxes. Increased taxes on gas, alcohol, tobacco and either a minimum corporate tax, or a tax on gross corporate sales, may be expected as well. Laws will be introduced to make it easier for counties to expand their sources of revenue-that means make it easier to raise your taxes.

Many current business tax credits and deductions will be reduced or eliminated in proposed bills. Some of the revenue generated from these reductions will be channeled into more tax credit incentives to encourage even more alternative energy generation.

One of the Governor’s legacy items is a government mandated third party government pay health insurance system for all Oregonians. The only apparent way to pay for such an extensive health care system would be an additional state payroll tax deduction. This bank busting plan may gain new traction with the Democrat super majority. At the very least, the Governor will make a huge push for expanding the Oregon Health Plan to include all uninsured children regardless of their parents’ ability to pay.

Expect to witness a plethora of new environmental laws including some of the Governor’s other legacy items such as his Marine Reserves, Headwaters 2 Ocean, and Carbon Cap and Trade initiatives, as well as laws to further expand land use restrictions.

Anticipate a number of new laws to be enacted that will further enhance the control of Oregon by labor unions, especially by public employee labor unions.

Not least, the long standing Republican backstop to prevent enhanced gun control statutes is now no longer a factor. Gun control advocates have been waiting a long time for this opportunity.

Oregon voters have voted for change, and as a direct result, they will undoubtedly experience significant change. Unfortunately, the citizens who live and work in the 80% of Oregon, not dominated by that Willamette Valley majority, will be required to live under laws created by the representatives of that Willamette Valley majority.

The 2009 legislative session will certainly be interesting and challenging. Many of the outcomes will most likely be disheartening for rural and small town Oregon.

Thanksgiving Weekend Wine Tours!

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Spend some quality time with your family this weekend on a Thanksgiving Weekend Wine tour.  Spots are still available on Friday and Sunday. Visit your choice of wineries or let us design a tour for you.  It’s a great way for you and yours to relax and see beautiful Oregon.  We’ll even stock our coolers full of beer and water for free!   Give us a call or inquire online.

Keep us in mind for those Holiday and New Years parties you have coming up.  Why worry about transportation for you or your guests when you can let us handle that?

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Two Oregon congressmen, one secretary of transportation

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

November 11, 2008 – 1:12pm

The rumors of who will be the future secretary of transportation in an Obama administration have centered on U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland), but some in the transportation world have been floating the name of a second Oregon congressman as well.

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield), a senior Democrat on the House Transportation committee was mentioned in a report by Traffic World Online as a potential Obama appointee.

Meanwhile Blumenauer has been floated as a potential nominee, according to several sources ranging from the transportation world to the political world to the progressive world.

Other names that have been floated have been Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn), Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, and a couple Washington, D.C. outsiders, including New York City Transportation Commissioner Jeanette Sadik-Khan.

It is unclear whether either Blumenauer or DeFazio are actively seeking the post. DeFazio has been rumored in the press to be contemplating a run for governor in 2010, while Blumenauer sent an email to his supporters Tuesday morning telling them he was looking forward to being a part of Congress in the beginning of 2009.

“I will have more colleagues in the House and the Senate who are not just Democrats, but people with good values, extraordinary political skills, common sense, and a human touch,” Blumenauer wrote. “I look forward to beginning an intense 50 months with a new administration, a stronger congress, and citizens more engaged than ever before.”

Both Blumenauer and DeFazio have been strong advocates for rebuilding the country’s infrastructure as a way to revitalize the economy and create jobs.

DeFazio, who will be entering his 12th term in the house if he is not tapped as transportation secretary, sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee, where he serves as the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, as well as a member of the Aviation and Rail subcommittee. The Springfield congressman has been pushing for infrastructure improvements and planning ahead to make U.S. transportation more green and energy efficient.

Blumenauer, who is looking at his eighth term in the House, has also advocated for energy independence, focusing on the connection between sustainable transportation and a sustainable economy. The Portland congressman has being a strong advocate for alternative transportation for commuters. He’s focused on rail commuting as a way to wean the U.S. off of foreign oil. He is also the founder of the Congressional Bike Caucus, and authored the 2008 Bicycle Commuter Act.

Blumenauer has the added advantage of being actively involved in Obama’s campaign since he endorsed the former Illinois Senator for the job in February. While Oregon was never treated to a visit from Obama during the general election, Blumenauer was actively traveling around the state to speak on behalf of the Democratic president-elect.

Two Oregonians’ ranking high on a list for one cabinet post may seem like a fine indicator of the state’s level of expertise, even if those caught in daily rush-hour traffic jams on I-5 may wonder if Oregon is really that far ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to transportation management.

Still, should President-elect Obama look to the Beaver State for an individual to lead the country to a greener, more sustainable transportation system, the state offers two candidates for the job.

BRITTEN CHASE is a PolitickerOR.com Reporter and can be reached via email at brit.chase@politickeror.com.

BRUNELL: Bill Briggs can teach a lesson or two on recycling

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Monday, November 10 | 4:21 p.m.

BY DON BRUNELL

Bill Briggs lives by the axiom that one person’s trash is another’s treasure.

Before “going green” became fashionable and recycling was a household word, Briggs collected dirty motor oil, filters, lubricants and coolant from factories, auto repair shops and quick lube centers. He re-refines the material and sells the refined products, often to his original suppliers.

For Briggs, it isn’t just about the money. He wants to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, and he believes disposing of oil and metals in our landfills pollutes the environment and wastes resources that America needs.

While people can no longer dump used motor oil down storm drains, the Filter Manufacturers Council estimates that only half of all oil filters are recycled. The rest, along with oily rags, are tossed in the trash each day and end up in garbage dumps.

That’s why Briggs purchased a fleet of tankers in 1984 and started Oil Re-Refining Co. (ORRCO). An Oregon native, he gave up a solid 17-year career with Chevron to start his company in northeast Portland’s industrial section.

His risk paid off, and now the 73 year-old entrepreneur operates in seven western states, with re-refining plants in Portland, Klamath Falls, Reno, Salt Lake City, Billings and Great Falls.

His company provides 55-gallon drums to lube centers and repair shops to discard their used oil filters. When the drums are full, Briggs picks them up and leaves empty containers behind. According to ORRCO data, the average 55 gallon drum contains 250 filters which, when recycled, produce nine gallons of oil and 166 pounds of steel. Each used filter contains about five-eighths cup of oil, enough to contaminate 36,000 gallons of water if inappropriately handled. Once the oil is removed, the steel filters are crushed and sold as scrap.

“I have one goal,” says Briggs. “Keep as much as we can out of landfills and reuse everything we can.”

In the process, he keeps pollutants out of our water. In fact on his company Web site, there is a photo of a Great Blue Heron with the statement, “One gallon of oil spilled can contaminate 100,000 gallons of water.”

Briggs lives by that mantra, and his business reflects his environmental principles. Some of his facilities are built on recovered Super Fund sites, he “scrubs” the air at his processing plants, and by using waste oil to power his operations, his facilities are nearly energy self-sufficient. He cleans and reuses his process water, and nothing harmful is dumped or allowed to seep into the ground.

In addition to recycling machine coolant, motor oil and used oil filters, Briggs collects wastewater, gasoline, emulsified wastewater and other oily solids, heavy bunker fuels, plastic oil bottles and barrels, asphalt, tires, antifreeze – even animal fats and the sludge from grease traps.

Those products are run through distillers, boilers, filters, traps and extruders at ORRCO’s processing plants and emerge as “good as new” products. In some instances, Briggs believes they are better than new. The gunk is then reprocessed into asphalt to pave our roads.
Just the beginning
Despite his considerable success, Bill Briggs says he’s just getting started. ORRCO is also a leader in biodiesel production and ships its re-refined fuel to Chevron.

In addition, Briggs is a pioneer in developing “renewable diesel” which relies on animal fats and spent cooking oils from restaurants.

In the future, Briggs also wants to find a way to strip petroleum products out of cars and trucks headed for the junk yard. He points out that everything from the dashboard to tires starts with crude oil and can be reused instead of wasted.

“One of these days we’ll be mining our landfills to recover those materials,” says Briggs. “Why not save the time and energy up front to re-refine it?”

While some states are rushing to impose regulations and mandates, we should focus instead on encouraging innovative entrepreneurs like Bill Briggs.

After all, he has the right idea: Educate business owners and motorists about the importance of recycling petroleum waste and oil filters and provide them with a convenient, and affordable way to change the world for the better.

Don Brunell is president of the Association of Washington Business, Washington state’s chamber of commerce. Visit www.awb.org.

Starting this week: Ride EcoShuttle to White Bird Uncaged

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Don’t want to drive? No problem!

White Bird and Portland-based Ecoshuttle have teamed together to provide a carefree and environmentally friendly shuttle service to three Uncaged venues in SE Portland, Kaul Auditorium, Oaks Park, and the Portland Opera Studio Theater.

The cost is $5 round-trip. The shuttle leaves one hour before the scheduled start time of the performance from the Jackson Turnaround at Portland State (where SW Jackson Street intersects SW Park Avenue at the end of the South Park Blocks). After the performance you can catch the shuttle back to Portland State.

Pre-registratration is required. Find out full details and reserve your seat here.

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A stimulus with a lasting effect

Friday, November 7th, 2008

by The Oregonian Editorial Board

Thursday November 06, 2008, 4:45 PM

As Congress shapes a stimulus package, the Northwest should seek to boost its bridges, roads and rails

Amid the gathering economic gloom, Speaker Nancy Pelosi seeks to revive and expand the $61 billion stimulus bill that was passed in September by the House but failed to clear the Senate. In contrast to the first economic stimulus bill rushed through Congress earlier this year, the proposed House package is designed to have a lasting positive effect partly by funding infrastructure projects that would put people to work.

A Japanese bullet train.

That makes this the right moment for Oregon and Washington to prepare their cases for the most pressing infrastructure needs in the Pacific Northwest. Can the stimulus bill help pay for the proposed new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River? How about high-speed rail, to link with the massive new project approved Tuesday by California voters, or perhaps north to Vancouver, B.C.? For that matter, how about a renovation of the creaky railroad network we already have, but whose poor condition causes constant delays?

“We’re trying to think big,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who is in a position to help shape the next stimulus package because of his role on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
How big? Well, a national high-speed railway network — a gleam in DeFazio’s eye — might cost $350 billion or so. That’s the kind of number that was considered staggering before Congress rushed through a $750 billion bank rescue package. And if there is to be a new stimulus package, experts believe it should include at least $300 billion in government spending to be effective.

There may be no better moment for high-speed rail. Officials in nine Midwestern states are pushing a plan to create high-speed rail corridors that would link some major cities, such as Minneapolis and Chicago. Similar moves are afoot in the Northeast and, of course, California voters just approved a $19.4 billion bullet-train project that would eventually connect San Diego to Sacramento. Amtrak’s ridership and revenue numbers have risen steadily, reaching record highs last year, goosed by the high costs of driving and flying.

The first stimulus checks put a little money in the pockets of taxpayers, who promptly spent it, to no lasting benefit. But infrastructure projects are gifts that keep on giving — they employ thousands of people and leave an enduring legacy. Rail projects, in particular, would help lessen dependence on imported fuel, striking a blow for the nation’s energy independence.

High-speed rail in major commuting corridors would be a terrific benefit of the deepening recession, but it will take many years to build out such a network. In the short term, Congress should look hard at the list of ready-to-go infrastructure projects that ran through DeFazio’s committee last month. The projects that lack only bureaucratic approvals or local matches can and should begin as soon as a new stimulus bill is passed.

In the middle term, projects such as Portland’s planned eastside streetcar could benefit from an infusion of federal money. At any rate, there’s no better time to make the case.

Of course, all of this adds to America’s monstrous debt load, which can be measured by the high-speed digital clock on DeFazio’s Web site. (At this moment, it says “Your share of the national debt is $31,167.”) But this isn’t a moment for government to change its mind about the interventionist course it embarked upon beginning last winter.

When Richard Nixon said in 1971, “We are all Keynesians now,” he didn’t know the half of it.

Canada: Western Climate Initiative Finalizes Cap-And-Trade Program Recommendations

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

04 November 2008

Article written by Barbara Hendrickson with assistance from Marty Venalainen, Student-at-Law.

The Western Climate Initiative (the “WCI“) released the Draft Design of the Regional Cap-and-Trade Program (the “Draft Design“) in July 2008 and, in August, we published a bulletin highlighting the key features of the Draft Design.1 Having received public input on the Draft Design, the WCI released, on 23 September 2008, its “Design Recommendations for the WCI Regional Cap-and-Trade Program”2 (the “Recommendations“).

The WCI is a multijurisdictional voluntary collaboration launched in February 2007 to develop regional strategies to address climate change. WCI goals include setting regional emissions reduction goals, developing a registry to track and manage emission reductions and offset credits, and designing a multi-jurisdictional market-based cap-and-trade system. The goal of the WCI is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.WCI partners include Arizona, California, Montana, Oregon, Utah, New Mexico, Washington, with Manitoba, British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario (the “Partner(s)“). Together, the seven states and four provinces represent over 70 percent of the Canadian economy and 20 percent of the U.S. economy.3 Saskatchewan, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, Wyoming, Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, and Tamaulipas are observers.

The following bulletin summarizes the main features of the cap-and-trade program (the “Program“).

Cap-and-Trade Design Features

1. Scope

The scope of Program includes electricity generation (including imports); combustion at industrial and commercial facilities; and industrial process emission sources. Emissions from residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation fuel combustion below the WCI thresholds will begin in the second compliance period. The combustion of biofuels and carbon neutral biomass will not be included in the Program. The Program delegates the treatment of upstream emissions from biofuels to the Partners.

2. Point of Regulation

The point of regulation for industrial sources will continue to be the point of emission. For electricity, the point of regulation is the First Jurisdictional Deliverer (the “FJD“). The FJD is the generator when the generator is located inside a Partner jurisdiction. The FJD is the deliverer of the electricity where the generator is located outside a Partner jurisdiction. The WCI trumpets such an approach as superior to that of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is purely generator-based.4 For residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation fuel combustion, the point of regulation will be the point where the fuel enters commerce in the Partner’s jurisdiction.

3. Thresholds for Coverage Under the Cap-and-Trade Program

Generally, those entities or facilities5 emitting at least 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent will be subject to the Program. The threshold was set with the objective of “covering a large portion of emissions with as few facilities and entities as possible.”6 The 25,000 ton threshold ensures that more than 90 percent of emissions are covered.7

However, the threshold is somewhat malleable. The Recommendations state “additional analyses will be performed to determine if adjustments to the threshold are need to ensure sufficient coverage or to address competitiveness issues within individual sectors.”8 Presumably such flexibility is meant to address situations where competitors in an industry straddle the threshold.

Also, the WCI intends to develop anti-avoidance measures to prevent an entity from devolving into smaller entities.

4. Role of Other Policies

While it is clear that there is no conflict between the Program and policies that complement the achievement of emissions reductions (e.g., energy efficiency standards), the role of alternative policies in the Program has yet to be determined. For example, it may be 2012 before the WCI determines a mechanism by which to integrate BC’s carbon tax.9

5. Setting the Regional Cap

The regional cap will be the sum of the Partners’ allowance budgets. A cap will be set for each year from 2012 to 2020, with the cap declining annually, while compliance periods will be three years long. Adjustments, including those to address the inclusion of new sectors in future compliance periods, will only be made before the compliance period commences. As stated in the Draft Design, caps will be set such that the regional goal is met by the Program through the combination of the Program and policies for uncapped sectors.

6. Apportionment

The determination of Partners’ allowance budgets, and the ensuing allocation of the burden of meeting the regional goal, will undoubtedly be a complex process. For example, the Recommendations note that two Partners will have to “agree to an equitable solution” where electricity is generated in one Partner’s jurisdiction and consumed in another.10 For the time being, the WCI can only offer that estimates will be based on “population growth, economic growth, voluntary and mandatory emissions reductions, and other factors.”11 The allowance budgets will decline using the straight-line method, factoring in the addition of new sectors in 2015. Partners are required to treat each others’ allowances equally.

7. Distribution of Allowances

Partners are responsible for allocating their allowances among the entities and facilities in their jurisdictions. Partners have agreed that a portion of the value of each allowance budget will be set aside for public purposes such as renewable energy incentives. WCI Partners are to give each other advance notice of how they intend to distribute allowances, and are to discuss amongst themselves the uniform treatment of allowances to sectors with “competitiveness issues.”12

The Draft Design had suggested the auctioning of a minimum of 25% to 75% of allowances. However, the Recommendations now call for the auction of a minimum of 10% of allowances in the first compliance period and 25% by 2020. The WCI will design a regional auction process by the end of 2009. New to the Recommendations, the first 5% of auctioned allowances will have a minimum price to reduce the risk of an inaccurately set cap.

Whereas the Draft Design had called for Early Reduction Allowances to be drawn from each Partner’s budget in 2012, the Recommendations call for such allowances to be in addition to each Partner’s 2012 allowance budget. The WCI will develop criteria for Early Reduction Allowances by the end of 2009.

As with the Draft Design, banking of allowances will be permitted, though the borrowing of allowances from future compliance periods will not.

8. Offsets, and Allowances from Other Systems

While the Draft Design had suggested that entities would only be permitted to rely upon offsets for 10% of their compliance obligations, the Recommendations have drastically increased the limit to 49% of each Partner’s obligations. This increase will make it all the more important for the WCI to develop rigorous criteria for the offsets system. Further, the change from limiting entities to limiting jurisdictions now requires that jurisdiction create mechanisms for allocating the rights to offsets among entities.

While encouraging the purchase of offsets from the jurisdictions of fellow Partners, the Recommendations also permit Partners to buy offsets issued under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism. Offsets from developed countries are permitted provided that they do not stem from emissions reduction projects in sectors that are subject to the Program. The restriction is intended to prevent double-counting and to encourage other developed country jurisdictions to enact emissions reduction policies.13

9. Reporting

Entities and facilities emitting at least 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents must report their 2010 emissions in early 2011. A key reason for the lower reporting threshold is to collection information so that the cap-and-trade threshold can be adjusted if many emitters are approaching the cap-and-trade threshold. While the Draft Design had used permissive language regarding third party verification, the Recommendations make third party verification mandatory. On 30 September 2008, the WCI released its second draft of reporting guidelines.14

10. Compliance and Enforcement

Compliance and enforcement are aspects of the Program that the Partners themselves must ultimately design. Other than setting a treble penalty for each ton emitted without an allowance, the Recommendations merely call for each Partner to “retain and/or enhance its regulatory and enforcement authority,” for there to be some degree of transparency, and for Partners to develop accounting mechanisms.15 To ensure some degree of consistency in enforcement standards, the WCI might consider developing a Model Rule similar to that developed by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).16

11. Administration, New Entrants, and Linkage

The Recommendations call for the creation of a “regional administrative organization.” The Recommendations also set certain criteria for permitting new entrants as Partners. Admission will be permitted only at designated times (e.g., the start of a new compliance period) and new entrants must have an emissions reduction goal at least as stringent as the WCI goal. The WCI also endeavours to seek linkages with the cap-and-trade programs of other jurisdictions and to influence the design of prospective federal programs.

Conclusion

The Recommendations provide a welcome foundation on which businesses can begin to plan their affairs. As an initial step, businesses in WCI jurisdictions should begin monitoring their emissions. Provided that effective offset protocols are designed, the raised ceiling on the use of offsets will lower compliance costs while still allowing the regional greenhouse gas reduction goal to be met. As many details are yet to be decided by the WCI and by the Partners, there will undoubtedly be more opportunities for businesses to provide input into the Program design.17 Reporting obligations begin in 2010 and the cap-and-trade program commences on January 1, 2012.

Footnotes

1. Barbara Hendrickson, “Western Climate Initiative” (August 2008) McMillan Bulletin. Online: http://www.mcmillan.ca/Upload/Publication/WesternClimateInitiative_0808.pdf .

2. Western Climate Initiative, Design Recommendations for the WCI Regional Cap-and-Trade Program, online: http://www.westernclimateinitiative.org/ewebeditpro/items/O104F19865.PDF [the “Recommendations”].

3. Western Climate Initiative, U.S. States, Canadian Provinces Announce Regional Cap-and-Trade Program to Reduce Greenhouse Gases (September 23, 2008). Online: http://www.westernclimateinitiative.org/ewebeditpro/items/O104F19871.PDF .

4. Supra, note 2, at 23.

5. The term entity is generally used when the point of regulation is upstream of the point of emissions to describe a company that has an obligation to surrender allowances to cover the carbon content of the fuel the company is moving through commerce. When the point of regulation is at the point where the emissions occur, the term facility is generally used.

6. Op. cit. at 24.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid., at 3.

9. Ibid., at 4.

10. Ibid., at 5.

11. Ibid., at 5.

12. Ibid., at 7.

13. Ibid., at 41.

14. Western Climate Initiative, Essential Requirements of Mandatory Reporting for the Western Climate Initiative, Second Draft (September 30, 2008), online: http://www.westernclimateinitiative.org/ewebeditpro/items/O104F19958.pdf .

15. Recommendations, supra note 2, at 12-13.

16. Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Model Rule. Online: http://rggi.org/docs/model_rule_corrected_1_5_07.pdf .

17. Note that California, a WCI member, has recently released its Proposed Scoping Plan, which includes a cap-and-trade program. For more details, please refer to our October 2008 bulletin on the topic. Online: http://www.mcmillan.ca/EmissionsTradingandClimateChange.html .

The foregoing provides only an overview. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, a qualified lawyer should be consulted.

© Copyright 2008 McMillan LLP

Oregon governor outlines climate change agenda

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s governor unwrapped an ambitious 2009 legislative climate change package with proposals for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for homes and buildings by 2030, with benchmarks to be sure the goal is reached.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski also wants to replace the $1,500 tax credit on hybrid vehicles with a $5,000 credit on all-electric cars and to fund energy efficiency for 800 low-income homes a year.

Oregon already is the highest per-capita user of hybrid cars in the nation, he said Monday, and the tax credit could be better used on promoting all-electric vehicles.

Kulongoski said Oregon can be an important point of entry for such cars and that he will make that point on a trip to China and Japan next month.

He said his plan to cap and trade greenhouse gas emissions by utilities and industries in Oregon would go into effect in 2012 to allow time to make sure it is fair and workable.

While Kulongoski almost certainly will have a Democratic House and Senate likely to lean toward his goals, one leading Republican on Monday urged caution, though he commended some aspects of the climate change agenda.

“There are a number of positive incentives the governor is proposing that protect our air, water and forests,” said Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli. “However, we must safeguard families and small businesses that cannot shoulder anymore rate hikes or expensive regulations. Calm and caution are important as we examine all of the possible consequences in these proposals.”

The cap-and-trade proposal is a part of an agreement among seven Western states and four Canadian provinces that allows industries and utilities that emit greenhouse gases to buy and sell credits. Businesses that cannot make sufficient cuts can buy the right to pollute from cleaner companies, a proposal Kulongoski says may take major lobbying because some say it could increase energy prices.

“Climate change is the most important environmental and economic issue of our time. We no longer have the luxury of looking a few years down the road,” he said.

The proposals he will take to the Legislature, he said, will focus “on how we live, work and move.” He urged the state to show the leadership it did in passing the nation’s first bottle bill and other landmark environmental laws in the 1970s.

Thanksgiving Weekend Wine Tours

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Seats available for Thanksgiving weekend wine tours.  Join another group for a cost-effective trip to Oregon’s wine country.  Explore the Willamette Valley and the Dundee Hills and cleanse your palette with great tastings and listen to some great live music! To reserve, click HERE

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