The Oregon Natural Resources Report - Agricultural News from Oregon

Carbon Cap-and-Tax would slam Oregon Ag

March 1, 2018

By Taxpayer Association of Oregon Foundation

Agriculture is one of Oregon’s largest industries, accounting for about 10 percent of the state’s jobs, despite principal farmers and ranchers accounting for less than 1 percent of the population. Oregon leads the nation in production of a variety of products, including Christmas trees and hazelnuts and is the 2nd largest source of hops, which have fueled the “craft beer” boom in the US. Given all the benefits the industry brings to the State and its position as a major driver of tax revenue for State programs, the Legislature’s efforts to hurt the industry through it’s proposed “cap and tax” plan to combat global climate change is ill-timed according to people in the Ag community.

At its essence, the “cap and tax” plan would seek to increase the cost for any business that produces carbon dioxide by capping the total emissions allowed, and then charging a tax on emissions beyond that limit. It would develop an entirely new bureaucracy within State government that would have wide-ranging powers to limit economic activity. By definition, one aspect of this plan would be a dramatic increase in the cost of traditional fuels like gasoline and diesel due to government limits and/or tax increases. Because agriculture relies on such fuels to plant, nurture, harvest and transport crops, it would be hit hard by the “cap and tax” plan. The current pricing advantage Oregon agriculture enjoys in the marketplace – which allows the export of 80 percent of crops grown in the State – would evaporate since it would be absorbing new costs which cannot be passed along, and which producers in other States don’t have to pay.

The Legislature is at risk of making the classic mistake of using a program originally developed in and made to fit California and trying to paste it on to Oregon. The California program has damaged agricultural producers in that State, and has led to uncertainty and unfair outcomes, while also having no impact on global CO2 levels or reducing the pace of climate change at all. Oregon currently produces less than 1 percent of all US greenhouse gasses, so even eliminating the entire agricultural industry would also have no significant impact on worldwide CO2 levels. The impact on Ag would be great and need to be considered when balancing the options surrounding carbon regulations.

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Discuss this article

2nd Law March 5, 2018

What you seem to be admitting is that agriculture is a huge emitter of greenhouse gases and has little to offer in terms of mitigation. #sad. Maybe stop being a whiner and start trying to be part of the solution.

tim smith March 7, 2018

To 2nd Law
What language does your species understand. Nowhere in this article does it state or infer Ag is a significant producer of CO2. Ag crops absorb and use far more CO2 than they produce in the harvest or processing. Pull your head out and understand that US Agriculture feeds the world more efficiently and better each and every year. Oregon is still part of the US despite having an overflow of cooks like you.

tim smith March 7, 2018

should have been Kooks like you. I doubt if 2nd Law is able to cook.

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