SALEM — A repeal of Oregon’s low-carbon fuel standard is among the proposals on the table as Gov. Kate Brown and legislative leaders discuss options to entice Republicans back to transportation funding talks.
Sources say Democratic leaders from the Oregon House and Senate laid out half a dozen ideas during a meeting at the governor’s mansion Tuesday. At the other end of the spectrum was a proposal in which Brown would promise some type of executive action on the low-carbon fuels program, in exchange for Republicans’ return to negotiations for the transportation package.
Republicans withdrew from those funding discussions earlier this year in protest, after Democrats passed a bill to make permanent Oregon’s low-carbon fuel standard.
Brown signed Senate Bill 324 into law in March, making Oregon’s low-carbon fuel standard permanent.
The program is supposed to reduce carbon emissions from transportation fuels in the state by 10 percent over the next decade, although supporters and the agency that will implement the program have acknowledged the pollution reduction could be less than that. The state has not yet implemented the program, which was set to sunset this year under the 2009 bill that originally authorized it.
Legislative leaders tentatively plan to meet again with Gov. Kate Brown at the Capitol Monday. Brown said during her State of the State speech last month that she wants lawmakers to send her a transportation funding package before they go home this summer, and mayors across the state sent a letter to lawmakers on Monday calling for a deal to increase state spending on roads.
Among the topics discussed this week is the type of program that might replace the low-carbon fuels program if it were repealed, according to a source who was not authorized to speak on the record because participants in the meetings agreed to keep the topics of discussion confidential.
The legislative leaders in the meetings have included Senate President Sen. Peter Courtney, D-Salem, House Speaker Rep. Tina Kotek, D-Portland, Senate Minority Leader Sen Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day and House Minority Leader Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte. Brown’s chief of staff Brian Shipley has also attended the meetings, along with deputy chief of staff Dmitri Palmateer.
A spokeswoman for Brown and a spokesman for Courtney both declined to comment. Kotek’s spokeswoman Lindsey O’Brien said the speaker did not bring forward the proposals for repeal or a promise of executive action on the low-carbon fuel standard.
Kara Walker, a spokeswoman for McLane, said House Republicans still will not accept anything short of a full repeal of the low-carbon fuel standard.
“We’ve made it clear and said a couple times now that without a full repeal, there’s not a path forward for a transportation package this session,” Walker said.
A spokeswoman for Ferrioli indicated he also continues to push for repeal of the low-carbon fuel standard.
“Senate Republicans are committed to ongoing conversations with leadership about repealing the Low Carbon Fuel Standard,” spokeswoman Caitie Osborne wrote in email.
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