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C.O. truckers convoy set to protest new cap and trade bill

A convoy of truck drivers, farmers and others from Central Oregon opposed to the revised, still-controversial “cap and trade" climate change legislation are heading back to the state Capitol early Thursday to join a major statewide protest rally.

Since the initial bill, HB 2020, failed in the last session, lawmakers have made changes to the new bill, Senate Bill 1530. This will be the third year Democrats have tried to pass a cap and trade bill.

The new bill is again designed to reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses, but critics argue the bill will raise fuel and natural gas prices and Oregonians' cost of living, hitting rural areas hardest.

SB 1530 would include regulations on industrial manufacturers and rural areas of the state. For example, the new bill splits the state into three separate areas that would introduce the regulation of automotive fuels in phases rather than state-wide.

Another change is the Department of Environmental Quality would be taking over the responsibility of the cap and trade program. But critics say the bill still will hurt Oregonians in the wallet.

NewsChannel 21 spoke Monday with Central Oregonians about why some support the measure, while others stand strongly against it.

"While SB 1530 is a good framework, corporate polluters have been working very hard to weaken the bill," said Nikki Roemmer Largent, regional director for the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. "The current version of the bill is not strong enough to meet the challenge of the climate crisis."

But truck drivers Dan Lane and David Chambers say the revised bill still hurts their way of life.

"Everything's going to be ruined as far as everything we've all known for so many years," Chambers said.

"The average farmer and rancher can't go out and buy these half a million dollar tractors to survive, people who have little hobby farms can't run equipment," Lane said. "People love Central Oregon, and that's why we're here, but if they can't afford to live here and there's no jobs, they'll leave."

Crook County Judge Seth Crawford said he will be joining the rally against the cap and trade bill for the first time on Thursday.

"Maybe let's use our money and efforts to do something we're not doing really well on, like mental health, homelessness, taking care of citizens that are stuck in jail," Crawford said.

A convoy of trucks and semis will be leaving for the Capitol from Sisters at 3:30 a.m. on Thursday.

A climate committee hearing will take place at the Capitol on Saturday at 10 a.m. The Oregon Climate Emergency Rally will follow on Court Street across from the Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

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