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Dembrow: Lawsuit shows need for carbon policy

Last Friday, Oregon joined 23 other states and two cities in suing the federal government for curtailing California's vehicle emission standards.

Sen. Michael DembrowOregon's lead Democrats on carbon emissions policy say the pending lawsuit against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the Trump Administration's rollback of vehicle emissions standards only further highlights the need for Oregon to double down on carbon emissions policy.

Last Friday, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum joined 23 other states and two cities in suing the federal government for curtailing California's vehicle emission standards, which proponents say have reduced vehicle emissions by hundreds of thousands of tons annually.

Oregon Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, and Rep. Karin Power, D-Milwaukie, both said they're not worried this lawsuit could lead to retaliation from the federal government against states, such as Oregon, working to pass cap and trade policy to reduce pollution.

"I think (the lawsuit) reinforces the basic premise of our Climate Action Program," Dembrow said. "In the absence of federal action, we must band together with other states and act regionally."

For Power, Oregon's cap and trade policy, also known as the Oregon Climate Action Program, is nearing the culmination of 10 years of work by the State Legislature, and this lawsuit — while not technically related — only helps to reinvigorate that work.

"At the crux of this particular dispute between California and the federal administration is whether California's leadership on vehicle emissions and partnership with the private sector should be allowed to stand," Power said. "I was disappointed to see that federal action, and I'm grateful for our attorney general stepping up to defend that work since it is having a tangible, near term reduction in emissions right now."

Power said that throughout the process of engaging in conversations around cap and trade policy, she hasn't seen or heard any attempts from the federal government to preempt the work they're doing.

Even if that was the case, "this is not something we need permission from the federal government to do," she said.

According to Power, she's continuing to reach out to different industries within the private sector who remain opposed to cap and trade policy to hear their concerns and find a solution that will get the legislation passed in the upcoming session.