Dear Editor, Oregon's legislature is considering a bill to address global warming. This topic is timely as our county commissioners just took a vote on it.
Though rural politicians oppose climate legislation, we who live and work here stand to lose the most if this problem is ignored.
Because of the warming climate, forest fires are worse. The extreme fires threatening timberlands, habitat, homes, and towns are driven by higher temperatures, lower humidity, and intensified drought, winds, and lightning.
Sea level will rise 4 feet this century according to National Climate Assessment, with extreme disruptions and property losses.
The warming is causing the ocean to acidify, threatening our commercial and sport fishing industries. See the Jan. 24 Oregonian about crippling losses to the crab fishery if changes are not made.
Storms will intensify with coastline erosion, river flooding, and disruption of roads, communications, and power.
To ignore the climate problem represents a betrayal of responsibilities that every governing body must address.
Intensive work led to Senate Bill 1530 — best effort of economic analysts and elected officials — and compromises benefit rural areas.
Curry County industries and utilities will not be regulated under the cap-and-invest plan — they're excluded because they're smaller and rural.
In fact, the program will generate revenue from cities to address rural problems including wildfire. Other features reimburse rural residents for costs. Forestry and agriculture operations are exempt.
Opponents of the bill fear higher gasoline prices. However, the measure will result in an increase of only 15-25 cents per gallon over the multi decade life of the program (Oregon's Cap-and-Trade Program: an Economic Assessment). Note: market fluctuations have driven gas prices up $2.35 during a single year recently — far more than what's expected with bill 1530. We daily pay more than a 25 cent difference in gas prices varying simply on what brand we buy. Furthermore, rural residents will be reimbursed for fuel increases, and whatever minor costs might occur, none will go into effect in Curry County until 2028. Like I said, compromises were made to appease rural legislators' objections. The bill, in fact, amounts to a generous gift from urban to rural Oregonians.
No matter. Referring to an unspecified "request," the county commissioners on Feb. 19 voted 2-1 to oppose the legislation. A principal reason given was fear that electric prices would climb, though the legislation specifically exempts Coos-Curry Co-op. Though asked, the commissioners declined to reveal what their source of information was.
We in rural Oregon stand on the front line of harm from global warming. If our elected officials don't like the approach that's been hammered out through 10 years of negotiations and hearings, then they should come up with a viable solution of their own.
Kicking the can down the road again will leave us vulnerable to the fires, floods, droughts, and acidifying ocean. As a state, united, we need to invest in solutions to the climate crisis if we want a tenable future for all of us and for all the generations to come.