OREGON — Dave Huguley, of Newport, was the local convoy captain for Timber Unity, recruiting 50 semi-trucks from Lincoln County to rally at the capitol to oppose the cap-and-trade Senate Bill 1530 on Feb. 6 at the State Capitol.
Huguley estimated that 150 local people joined the protest in Salem, mostly from Toledo, Siletz and Elk City. There was not a lot of support from Newport, he said, but noted it’s the height of the commercial fishing season.
“It struck a chord with me,” Huguley said of Timber Unity. He said there was a myriad of issues, but his concern was for the smaller businesses, the family outfits with older equipment, who simply can’t afford to absorb increased costs of updating older trucks and equipment.
“I’m just a foot soldier,” said Huguley. “Usually what happens is, somewhere in the middle, we meet. Change is inevitable.”
“I don’t consider myself a political person,” said Sharon Biddinger, of Newport, who joined the Timber Unity delegation to protest the cap-and-trade bill.
“We’re a fishing family,” she said, her husband, Jerry, captain of the F/V Eclipse, who purchases 20,000 gallons of fuel each year. She noted that a fuel tax would impact her family directly, but added, “It’s going to hurt everybody.”
First of all, she said, “This is not a climate bill. It’s a climate tax. When has a tax ever fixed the climate?”
Farming, fishing and logging are green industries, she said. They’re sustainable industries: small, local, rural.
Of her experience at the capitol on Feb. 6 where thousands gathered to protest, Biddinger said, “It was absolutely incredible to see the unity of … people fighting for their livelihood.”
It should go to a vote, Biddinger said of the cap-and-trade bill.
Starker Forests CEO Randy Hereford said, “In my view, you don’t get all the nuances of a policy in a ballot measure.”
Hereford also cited costs.
“It costs both sides millions to put an issue in front of voters,” he said. “There may be more productive ways to get to an end solution.”
Hereford suggested that reforestation would be a better use of those funds. Starker Forests own 17,000 acres of land in Lincoln County.
State Representative David Gomberg pointed out that, as well as the protestors, he represents those who support SB 1530. An estimated 2,000 rallied at the capitol on Feb. 11 in support of the bill.
Gomberg said the cap-and-trade bill is still being negotiated.
“It’s constantly evolving,” he said, referencing tax credits and an exception for watercraft fuel.
“My role is to try and make sure we protect coastal industries and coastal residents,” Gomberg said.
“Climate will be the defining issue,” Gomberg added, citing effects on the shellfish industries, crab season and the salmon run, as well as coastal erosion.
“We’re on the front lines,” he said.
Governor Kate Brown’s office announced an “unprecedented agreement between timber and environmental groups” on Feb. 10 in a memorandum of understanding executed by representatives of both environmental and timber, giving some hope that there will be compromise.
The memorandum will “drive a process for Oregon to update its timber practices… support passage of new legislation for the 2020 session on aerial spraying of pesticides… and expand forest stream buffers in the Rogue-Siskiuou region.”
Hereford said that the agreement is significant as it represents a new effort in Oregon forestry to review rules and practices that have been around since the 1970s. He also noted that the industry relies on science to determine good forest practices.
An amendment to SB 1530 was introduced late Wednesday, Feb. 12. The discussion continues.