Green advocates bristle at late-session Oregon legislative losses
By Andy Giegerich
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Tony Fuentes is one of several Oregon business owners who feels betrayed by Oregon's 2013 legislative session.
Sustainability advocates are bemoaning Oregon lawmakers' refusal to pass two strongly backed environmental bills before adjourning on Monday.
Measures that would have extended Oregon's clean fuels program and created a system for disclosure of toxins in children's toys didn't make the legislature's cut. The failures sparked an outcry from the Oregon Environmental Council, the Oregon Business Association and business owners who'd expected both efforts to sail through the state's governing chambers.
"It was kind of a surprisingly rough session," said Tony Fuentes, owner of Milagros Boutique and president of the Voice for Oregon Innovation and Sustainability business group. "The OBA was supportive of the clean fuels bill, so that was backed by business and environmental interests. The toxics bill had a lot of strong support from the business community. But ultimately, there was pushback from companies that manufacture chemicals."
The Oregon Clean Fuels Program had faced a sunset clause designed to shutter the program in 2015. The Clean Fuels Now coalition, which includes business and environmental advocates, had sought to eliminate the sunset.
The measure would require fuel importers to reduce the carbon content of their Oregon-sold goods by 10 percent. If lawmakers don't take up the matter during next year's legislative short session, the rule would expire a year later.
The Clean Fuels bill, or Senate Bill 488, failed after a full Senate vote yielded a 15-15 tie.
"The state Senate missed an opportunity to incentivize local fuel production and keep transportation dollars in the state," said Joel Fischer, an Oregon Business Association senior policy analyst. "We hope the Senate will see the light and lift the sunset on the Clean Fuels Program in the February 2014 session."
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