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Oregon’s Stake in New Climate Change Bill

October 1, 2009

PORTLAND, Ore. - Congress begins October with another huge priority on its plate - a new national energy policy to curb climate change and create jobs in the process. The House already passed a bill this summer, while the Senate version was introduced Wednesday. The goal of the Senate legislation is to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent within the next ten years, through energy efficiency, new technology, and carbon trading as an incentive for the biggest industries to clean up, or pay up.

Patti Glick, senior global warming specialist with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), says the bill will accelerate progress already being made in Oregon.

"This bill will mean safer energy; it'll mean enormous growth in job opportunities here in the Northwest and across the country. The time truly has come for this kind of action."

NWF's most recent poll shows more than 70 percent of Americans are in favor of a national policy to fight climate change. But, the bill could be in for a battle from some critics who argue the bill is too weak, and others who worry the goals are too ambitious, too expensive, and will result in a lot of money changing hands, with little environmental benefit.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, who is on the Environment and Public Works Committee, calls the bill a roadmap to clean energy and jobs that also will benefit the environment. In his view, the country's choices are clear.

"Are we going to invest in domestic growth and energy production, or continue to send a billion dollars a day, as we do now, to countries like Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Iraq? Are we going to create American jobs, or send those jobs overseas?"

Oregon faces great job potential, adds Merkley, including biofuel production using wood waste from forests. The energy savings in the bill are big enough to offset the cost, say supporters.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA).

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR