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Energy bill probably derails cap-and-trade plan


STATE OF OREGON - Sen. Chris EdwardsWill the Oregon Legislature’s vote this week to pass a new renewable energy mandate rule out a state carbon cap-and-trade program in the future?

Only time will tell, but one of the sponsors of a failed cap-and-trade proposal this session, Sen. Chris Edwards, D-Eugene, suggested that it might. Edwards was lukewarm on the renewable energy bill until other lawmakers added a provision last week to boost incentives for biomass.

“It’s a less desirable approach than Cap and Invest and will potentially make Cap and Invest more difficult to pass next session,” Edwards wrote of the renewable energy bill in an email last week. “One concern I have had, is that once this policy is enacted, it sets the policy path for the next couple of decades, and it will become very difficult to make changes in subsequent legislative sessions.”

Edwards noted in another email that cap and trade and the renewable energy mandate are not mutually exclusive, and California has implemented both. However, Edwards wrote that “it is difficult to imagine that legislators will have enthusiasm for including the electric utility sector in the Cap and Invest system that we work on next session.”

Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River, was among a handful of House Republicans who voted for the renewable energy mandate, and he said repeatedly that he would not support additional green energy bills that could increase costs to ratepayers and introduce more variable energy to the electric grid.

“This is as far as we can go, putting requirements on our electric grid,” Johnson said last month. “It will be as green as we can be at the end of the day. We simply can’t impose further cost drivers, be it cap and trade or a carbon tax.”

Johnson reiterated the point this week. “This to me is as far as we can responsibly go,” Johnson said before a House vote on the measure Monday.