We Oregonians aren't paying enough for the gasoline that fuels our cars and trucks.
Hopefully Oregon's Clean Energy Jobs Bill, also known as cap and trade, will pass in this legislative session and increase the state gasoline tax to a level that comes a heck of a lot closer to reflecting the long-term costs of the carbon pollution that is fueling global warming to increasingly dangerous levels.
A recent story in the Portland Oregonian has some good news on this front:
Almost three quarters of the revenues expected from the bill would come from increases in transportation fuel prices. The Legislative revenue office expects that to translate to about 22 cents a gallon increase at the pump in 2021, when the policy kicks in, increasing to 78 cents a gallon 10 years later and $3 a gallon by 2050.
Excellent! The higher gas prices go, the more incentive there will be for people to buy electric cars/trucks in some form: all electric, plug-in hybrid, or regular hybrid.
My wife and I bought a 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid about a week ago. We're enjoying it a lot. It gets about 40 mpg, which is pretty darn good for a decently-sized all wheel drive SUV.
We're avid environmentalists, but have resisted jumping back into the 100% electric car pond after experiencing some range anxiety after buying a 2012 Nissan Leaf (there were other more important reasons we sold the Leaf and got a Chevy Volt, though).
Thus we serve as a good example of why the Oregon legislature needs to overcome the resistance of industry groups, along with the always-irritating theatrics of pseudo-Democrat Sen. Betsy Johnson, who has proposed a bunch of amendments to the bill that would dilute its carbon-reducing impact considerably.
Government action is essential if the world is to escape the worst effects of rapidly rising temperatures. A big reason why is the Tragedy of the Commons situation that I learned about way-back-when in my Systems Science graduate school days.
The notion is simple.
Everybody in a town wants to graze their sheep on commonly owned land. It makes sense for each sheep owner to do this, since the grass is there for the asking. Or rather, grazing. But when everybody does what makes sense for them, the commons is over-grazed, the grass dies, and everybody suffers.
Likewise, every car and truck owner wants to do what makes sense for them. Sometimes this is good for everybody -- buying an electric car and charging it with solar panels, for example -- but usually it isn't.
Which is why the Clean Energy Jobs Bill is crucial for Oregon.
Carbon pollution can't be solved by individual actions. Greenhouse gas emissions are rising too rapidly. Market forces work fine for pricing bananas, but not for pricing greenhouse gas emissions.
Only government can do that. So let's do it, Oregon legislature. The arguments against the bill in the Oregonian stories are very weak.
Oregon has little impact on global emissions. So what? Every country in the world could say something similar, as could every state in the United States, every city in each state, and so on. A global problem requires global action at every level.
Oregon would be only the second state to institute an economy-wide limit on greenhouse emissions, behind California. Again, so what? Oregon used to take pride in being an environmental leader. Bottle bill. Public beaches. Land use planning. We led the way in these areas. So let's lead the way in limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
Hopefully the Democrats who control both houses of the state legislature and the Governor's Office will realize that this is the moment to take a stand for the habitability for humans of our one and only Earth.
If they fail to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Bill in the nest two weeks, the opportunity may never come again.