Climate activists take their case to state Capitol


Hundreds of people gathered to counter a Timber Unity rally held at the Oregon Capitol last week

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hundreds of Oregonians rallied Tuesday at the State Capitol in Salem to encourage lawmakers to pass cap-and-trade legislation aimed at limiting carbon pollution.

Senate Bill 1530, put forth by Governor Kate Brown, would require businesses to buy credits for emissions as an incentive to lower their carbon footprint. Oregon lawmakers held another hearing on the bill as climate activists rallied outside.

Tuesday’s gathering was in response to the Timber Unity rally held last week in the same spot.

Truckers with TimberUnity drove a convoy to the Oregon State Capitol in Salem, February 6, 2020 (KOIN)

“Our main message of the rally is we can’t afford to wait any longer for climate action,” said Sonny Mehta, field director for Renew Oregon, a coalition that advocates for clean energy. “Oregonians are expecting the Legislature to take bold action and pass the bill without delay. And the policy that we’re advocating for caps greenhouse gas emissions, prices those emissions and invests in creating good-paying jobs and growing the economy.”

A student activist said climate change has a direct impact on her parents who work in farm fields year-round, rain or shine.

“If anyone understands the impacts of climate change, it’s definitely my parents,” said Salem High School senior Angelique Prater.

Opponents have criticized the plan for its potential impact on consumers and small businesses, particularly through higher fuel costs. Recent revisions to the legislation spare counties east of the Cascades from regulations on fuel importers and provide a way for natural gas companies to guard their low-income customers against higher costs, according to the Portland Tribune.

Grassroots groups from around the state reached out to Renew Oregon for help organizing the rally in Salem, Mehta said. Renew Oregon has been working with local organizations like Southern Oregon Climate Action Now and PCUN, among others.

Mehta said he talked to people who had signed up to come from as far as Pendleton and Brookings and that volunteers and local environmental groups had been getting the word out locally for months. Organizers told KOIN 6 News that about 1,000 people showed up to Tuesday’s rally.

The Portland Tribune and Pamplin Media Group’s papers are a KOIN 6 News media partner

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