Companies challenge Oregon’s new climate program

A business coalition wants a court to block Oregon’s plan to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that new state climate action plan administrative rules, passed in December, aim for a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels and natural gas by 2050.

In a judicial review petition filed Friday, 12 industry trade groups say the rules “hold fuel suppliers directly responsible” for the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The groups represent agricultural, ranching, fossil fuel, logging, manufacturing and retail businesses.

Mary Anne Cooper of the Oregon Bureau of Agriculture said in a statement that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality “exceeded its authority.”

“The people of Oregon should not accept a state agency writing policies it does not have the authority to write, and this sets a dangerous precedent for the future,” Cooper wrote.

For years, Democratic lawmakers in Oregon have tried to launch an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to curb carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. When they failed to get enough votes, Governor Kate Brown last year ordered a panel of experts to develop administrative rules that would cap greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and would reduce over time.

The resulting climate protection program caps gasoline, diesel, propane, kerosene and natural gas emissions and makes the cap more restrictive over time. The program, which launched this month, will distribute a decreasing number of emission credits to fuel suppliers and allow them to buy and sell those credits when the cap is lowered. It also creates a fund that allows companies to pay for emissions reductions in communities most affected by climate change.

The rules include financial penalties for companies that cannot meet emission reduction targets.

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