The cost of Oregon’s green goodness will come at the pump. To get Oregonians to use less fuel, House Bill 2020 raises its price. The carbon reduction bill — seemingly destined to become law — is expected to raise the price of gas in the state by about 21 cents in 2021. That won’t be the end of it. The bill will keep driving prices up, which in turn will increase the cost of living for Oregon families.
Do the Democratic legislators behind HB 2020 believe average Oregonians have too much money? Of course not. But people on a mission to save the planet sometimes stop at nothing. Even logic.
Given that this bill is going to pass, shouldn’t more of the clear benefit go directly to Oregonians? Oregonians may be all for the idea behind HB 2020 — clean energy and a cleaner Oregon. But when the price of fuel ratchets up and up, that’s going to be a harder and harder choice.
HB 2020 could have been written to return those hundreds of millions of carbon tax revenue directly to Oregonians. But Democratic leaders wrote the bill so they would control the money themselves.
If the Legislature isn’t going to do the right thing, Oregonians should. There may be no perfect mechanism, but state Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, has a way to send a message on the November 2020 ballot. His New Green Deal Tax Cut ballot initiative would reduce the state’s gas tax from 34 cents to 18 cents. Boquist’s initiative would, of course, undercut the green goals of HB 2020. But if the state isn’t going to return carbon taxes to Oregonians, Oregonians should take back some of the taxes themselves.