Oregon Climate Bill Leaves Out Big Timber – State’s Largest Polluter – and Instead Rewards it with More Subsides

Logs (AKA “trees” or “forests”) destined to Asia at a Weyerhaeuser export dock. Photo by Sam Beebe.

To read the full article from Dr. John Talberth, President and Senior Economist at the Center for Sustainable Economy, click here. Below is Dr. Talberth’s intro:

Extractive industries have proven adept at generating record profits, then using those same profits to protect themselves from any responsibility for cleaning up the mess they leave behind. Oregon’s timber industry is a case in point: it is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, the biggest threat to clean drinking water supplies, and the biggest source of wildfire risk as climate change unfolds. Yet, as Oregon’s “Clean Energy Jobs” bill (HB 2020) moves out of the House and heads to the Senate, the timber industry has not only shielded itself from any restrictions, it is now being rewarded with new subsidies to add to the several hundred million dollars a year it already receives.

On June 13, 2019, the timber industry secured a late stage amendment to HB 2020, introduced by Senate President Peter Courtney (D-District 11), that ensures “wood products manufacturing facilities” do not suffer any “permanent or temporary” reductions in the “supply of wood fiber” in the carbon offsets protocols of HB 2020. This amendment is a supply side subsidy that will keep log prices down and wood to mills flowing at roughly the same pace as now. Any reductions in logging associated with forest carbon offsets would have to be made up for by increased logging elsewhere. In the technical language of offset markets, this phenomenon is called “leakage,” and is a basis for invalidating any offset proposals that do not actually result in less logging.

Slowing down the pace of clearcutting to let forests grow longer and their soils mature so they can soak up more carbon, scientists say, is one of the most important natural climate solutions we have at our immediate disposal. Yet Courtney’s amendment does the opposite: It will make our forest offsets program even worse and more ineffective than California’s.

UPDATE: ‘Militia threat’ shuts down Oregon statehouse

SALEM — A “possible militia threat” is shutting down the Oregon statehouse amid an ongoing walkout by Republican lawmakers who are blocking a vote on landmark climate change legislation with their absence.

A spokeswoman for the Senate President confirmed late Friday that the “Oregon State Police has recommended that the Capitol be closed tomorrow due to a possible militia threat.”

Gov. Kate Brown has deployed the state police to round up Republican senators who fled the Legislature — and in some cases, the state — to thwart passage of a climate proposal that would dramatically lower fossil fuel emissions by 2050.

Right-wing militia groups said they would protest at the Capitol on Saturday as lawmakers convened.

It’s unclear if the “militia threat” was related to the protest or is something additional.

20 thoughts on “Oregon Climate Bill Leaves Out Big Timber – State’s Largest Polluter – and Instead Rewards it with More Subsides”

  1. I think we’ve discussed this before but how could timber be Oregon’s #1 polluter, if industry itself isn’t the largest producer of GHG’s? https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=OR#tabs-2
    Wouldn’t the forest industry be a subset of industry?

    Here is our previous discussion… and here is Talberth’s CV from Researchgate. He’s not what I would call a forest policy expert, but we all have varying definitions I suppose. He does have a long anti-logging history, though, including appealing the SW forest plans in 1996.https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/birds/northern_goshawk/pdfs/APPEAL.PDF andhttps://www.amazon.com/Economic-Against-National-Forest-Logging/dp/B0006RSUX6(1999). You’ve gotta love this business, the teams don’t change but the game does (economics, carbon).

  2. “…the timber industry secured a late stage amendment to HB 2020, introduced by Senate President Peter Courtney (D-District 11), that ensures “wood products manufacturing facilities” do not suffer any “permanent or temporary” reductions in the “supply of wood fiber” in the carbon offsets protocols of HB 2020.”

    Let’s say the bill instead assured permanent and/or temporary reductions in the supply of wood fiber. In this case, wood from somewhere else would be harvested, a phenomenon well known in carbon accounting. In any case, reducing supply does little if anything to reduce demand for wood or substitutes. Lumber prices would rise and the cost of competing materials — steel, concrete — would be relatively cheaper. Increases in the use of steel and concrete will lead to increased GHG emissions (the production of steel and concrete are the two largest sources of anthropogenic GHG emissions in the world).

    In my opinion, it is better to use a product that is renewable and does not emit fossil GHGs — wood — than to use non-renewable materials than result in increased fossil GHG emissions.

  3. As usual, I am a bit confused. Earlier today timber workers joined in a demonstration opposed to HB 2020.

    Opponents of House Bill 2020 hold rally on Oregon Capitol steps https://www.kptv.com/news/convoy-of-trucks-heads-to-state-capitol-to-protest-house/article_9962fc10-9297-11e9-b616-5fd074848540.html

    “But those who oppose the bill say it would dramatically effect some of the state’s rural communities and hurt businesses like timber companies.”

      • I dunno. Protest was yesterday, so after amendment. The transportation industry (big trucks moving goods in and out of OR) is very opposed. Claims it will have huge impact. And I wonder what the bill will mean to agriculture, which is huge in OR, but mostly in the rural east 2/3.

  4. Fairly strange how another tax on anyone doing business is suggested to be a subsidy to timber.
    As far a following Oregon forests practices act goes, maybe if the commenters ever logged anything the would know every logging job in the state is required to have a permit and be inspected the state.
    People seem to love attacking the timber workers. What would happen if we had no timber harvesting.

    • Howdy Bob,

      I can’t think of many examples of people “attacking the timber workers.”

      However, I can think of many examples of timber workers “attacking environmentalists.”

  5. See also: Oregon Senate Republicans walk out from Capitol for second time



    Senate Republicans are refusing to come to the Capitol to deny Democrats the opportunity to pass a sweeping greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-invest bill, legislative staff confirmed Thursday morning.

    Declining to show up for floor session means the Senate will not have a quorum, so it cannot conduct any business. The vote on House Bill 2020 was scheduled for Thursday.

    To avoid a walk out, Senate Republicans were asking for the emergency clause in HB 2020 to be removed, which would open up the possibility that the bill could be referred to voters. Democrats have been opposed to such a move, and add that changing the bill now would require the House to vote on it again, perhaps giving Republicans time to run out the clock on the bill.

    The Legislature must adjourn by June 30, per the state Constitution.

    In response to the walk out threats made by Senate Republicans earlier in the week, Gov. Kate Brown said she was prepared to call a special session of the legislature starting July 2 and keep lawmakers in Salem until the work is done.

    She also implied she would be willing to compel the senators back to the Capitol through use of Oregon State Police officers. However, Oregon State Police jurisdiction ends at the state border.

    Other possible consequences include fines.

  6. A tweet from Oregon Republican Party clearly complains that democrats in the state are cowering in fear…of being shot by their armed militia, which includes a bunch of timber industry folks.

  7. Here’s who put $120,000 behind Oregon’s climate walkout and protests
    By Rob Davis, The Oregonian

    Full article: https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2019/07/heres-who-put-money-behind-oregons-climate-walkout-and-protests.html

    The Oregon Republican senators’ walkout and successful protests against a climate change bill have created a windfall of up to $120,000 for two fledgling political committees that formed last month.

    The money came from agriculture, timber and trucking companies, Republican politicians like failed GOP gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler, and Andrew Miller, a prominent and polarizing timber executive….

    The timber group, also known as TUPAC, has been the most active. It used a $5,000 donation from Miller to help pay some expenses around loggers’ and truckers’ raucous June 27 protest outside the state Capitol, including bus transportation, port-a-potties and other incidental expenses….

    The climate bill opposition marks a return to the spotlight for Miller, the CEO of Stimson Lumber, a mill operator and timberland owner. Miller was an outspoken opponent of cap-and-trade, calling for a boycott of businesses that were members of Oregon Business for Climate. Three companies — Dutch Bros. Coffee, Fort George Brewery and Deschutes Brewery — withdrew from the group afterward….

    Miller told The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is Timber Unity’s director “in name only” and has no regular communication with its leaders…

    Although supporters of cap and trade in Oregon point to California’s successes since adopting a statewide cap-and-trade program in 2006, Miller said California’s system has prompted carbon emitters to relocate. “The entire dairy industry left the state,” he said. “The cost of compliance is too high.”

    That is not true, however. California remains the nation’s biggest milk producer. “We’re still here,” said Bill Schiek, economist for the Dairy Institute of California, an industry group. “Cap and trade didn’t have a big influence. The dairy industry was able to adapt to cap and trade.”

    Asked to explain the discrepancy, Miller said he could not. “I will refrain from making public statements in the future that I have not fact checked,” he said. “You got me. Good for you.”


Leave a Comment

Discover more from The Smokey Wire : National Forest News and Views

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading