The Story of the Demise of Oregon's Climate Change Bill Is Real Wild

Image: via AP

It’s been a long and winding road for HB 2020, a proposed state law in Oregon that aimed to cap greenhouse gas emissions and charge companies that pollute the air. Now the bill is dead, thanks to the state Democrats who couldn’t get enough votes to save this godforsaken planet.

According to local station OPB, Oregon state senate President Peter Courtney (a Democrat), announced the cap-and-trade bill’s demise this morning. “What I’m about to say, I say of my own free will. No one has told me to say this,” he said on the Senate floor. “House Bill 2020 does not have the votes on the Senate floor. That will not change.”

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It seemed, at first, that state senate Republicans would be the villains of this story. They staged a walkout in protest, fleeing the state (to Idaho and elsewhere) ahead of the bill to avoid the vote, a move made not long after right-wing militia groups made threats to protest the bill outside the statehouse. And yet, Democrats—who make up 18 of the 30 state senate seats—could not cobble together the necessary 16 votes to pass the bill.

Some Democrats did blame their Republican colleagues for dragging the bill down with their drama. Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick told OPB she hoped the senators who walked out would be fined the requisite $500 per day. She had some harsh words for them:

“I don’t know what to call it,” she said of Republicans’ walkout, their second since May. “I want to call it terrorism, because they are not doing their job and it has fractured the entire institution.”

The bill would have been the second state in the country after California to pass the law, which also promised an investment in green economy and infrastructure. It’s unclear whether Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who supports the bill, will call the state Legislature into a special session in July and bring it back up. For now, we collectively continue to careen toward climate hell.

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