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New carbon reduction committee gets members

Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek have appointed 14 lawmakers to committee tasked with developing a carbon pricing program.

PAMPLIN FILE PHOTO - Oregon's 2018 Legislative Assembly in the House of Representatives at the Oregon State Capitol in SalemSALEM — Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek have named the 14 members of a new Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction.

The committee is tasked with crafting legislation in 2019 to establish a statewide carbon pricing program.

"The members of the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction reflect the regional perspectives on climate change from across the state," Kotek said in a statement Wednesday. "Throughout the interim, we will work collaboratively to craft a solution to reduce Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions and build a clean energy future for our state."

Courtney and Kotek announced the creation of the committee at the close of the last legislative session March 3. The legislative leaders made the announcement after lawmakers earlier in the year stopped short of acting on a proposal to create a carbon pricing program, also known as "cap and invest" or "cap and trade."

The program would have charged companies for emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and invested the proceeds into projects designed to offset global warming.

Lawmakers earlier this year also added $1.4 million to the state budget as part of the budget reconciliation bill to create a carbon policy office in the state Department of Administrative Services.

The first meeting will be scheduled during the next round of legislative days, May 21-24, Courtney said.

He said he hopes the committee will have developed a legislative proposal for the 2019 session by the end of this year. The committee has yet to decide whether it will form subcommittees or work groups to help develop the policies, Courtney said.

"Together, hopefully, we can find way to get carbon out of the atmosphere with legislation or money or both," he said.

Courtney, an attorney who is the state's longest-serving Senate president, and Speaker Kotek will co-chair the committee. The authors of the 2018 carbon-pricing legislation — Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, and Rep. Ken Helm, D-Washington County — will sit on the committee. Other senators include Sen. Cliff Bentz, a Republican from Ontario, who was involved in the state's clean fuels legislation, and Sen. Fred Girod, a Republican from Stayton who played a key role in the Cleaner Air Oregon bill earlier this year. Sen. Lee Beyer, a former public utility commissioner; Alan Olsen, R-Canby, a veteran member of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee; and physician Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Beaverton, also are appointees.

House membership includes Reps. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford, a former Curry County commissioner, city councilor and chamber of commerce president; Democrat John Lively, former mayor of Springfield, and Karin Power, a Democrat who works as an environmental law attorney and served on the Milwaukie City Council. Reps. E. Werner Reschke, R-Klamath Falls, who sits on the House Energy and Environment Committee, and Republican A. Richard Vial, a lawyer from Scholls, also sit on the committee.