Oregon Republicans flee the state to avoid voting on a major climate change bill

“Send bachelors and come heavily armed,” one Republican state senator warned police.

By Umair Irfan, VOX, Jun 21, 2019, 3:58pm EDT
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown lamented that Republicans fled the state to avoid voting on a historic climate change bill during a press conference on June 20, 2019. KATU News

Twelve Oregon Republican lawmakers are on the run from the law, having fled the state Senate in Salem on Thursday to deny quorum for a vote on a major climate change bill. The legislation would establish a statewide cap-and-trade scheme for carbon dioxide.

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown authorized state police to find the lawmakers and bring them back. They are each being fined $500 for every day there aren’t enough senators for a vote. (So far, it’s been two days.) Oregon State Police said they are also coordinating with law enforcement agencies in nearby states to find the Republicans.

Brown lamented the stunt to avoid passing the bill. “It would have been historic for Oregon, historic for the country, and frankly historic for the world,” she said during a press conference Thursday. “Unfortunately, Senate Republicans have failed to show up and failed to do their jobs.”

Republicans were defiant, however. Oregon Senate Republican leader Herman Baertschiger Jr. said in a statement that Republicans were being “bullied by the majority party.”

Another state senator in hiding, Brian Boquist, went further, threatening the police who are trying to round up the wayward lawmakers. “Send bachelors and come heavily armed,” he said. “I’m not going to be a political prisoner.”

All this for a climate change bill.

As Vox’s David Roberts explained, Oregon’s climate proposal, House Bill 2020, is truly significant:

Oregon would be only the second US state to mandate not just greenhouse gas emission reductions in the electricity sector, as so many other states and cities have done, but economy-wide emission reductions. Across every sector — electricity, transportation, and industry — emissions would decline 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2035 and 80 percent by 2050.

The bill would also bring Oregon into a regional carbon trading system, the Western Climate Initiative. Ted Sickinger at The Oregonian/OregonLive has a good, thorough rundown of why Republicans oppose it. But in a nutshell, they’re arguing it will hurt industry and rural residents.

Fleeing the state to thwart the bill is an unusual tactic, but it’s not the first time Oregon lawmakers have walked out on the job. In May, they left the Oregon Senate for four days to extract concessions in a school funding bill.

Democrats currently have supermajorities in both chambers of Oregon’s legislature, but they need Republicans to hold a quorum to conduct business.


    New coalition: Protect the Bay .org – TAR SANDS FREE SF BAY

    New coalition launched to protect Bay Area from tar sands, oil tankers

    By Dan Bacher, Thursday Jun 20th, 2019 7:33 PM
    ProtectTheBay.org      >> Sign the petition! >>

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA (Traditional Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone Lands) — In a state where oil and gas drilling have increased in recent years, a  group of local residents today launched the Protect the Bay coalition to educate the Bay Area community about the expansion proposal at Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery in Rodeo to bring in more oil tankers and process more heavy crude oil like Canadian tar sands.

    “The proposal would impact local health and the climate by increasing refinery emissions and worsening air quality for nearby communities, while also increasing tanker traffic and the risk of a devastating oil spill in San Francisco Bay,” according to a press release from the coalition.

    The San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary is the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas — and the increased risk of an oil spill on the bay threatens many fish populations that migrate through, reside, spawn or rear in the bay, including Chinook salmon, steelhead, halibut, striped bass, rockfish, lingcod, leopard sharks, sixgill sharks, soupfin sharks, bat rays, brown smoothhound sharks, green sturgeon, white sturgeon, Pacific herring, anchovies, jack smelt, over a dozen species of surfperch and many other species.

    “If the refinery’s full expansion moves ahead, more than twice as many crude oil tankers could travel to the refinery, some of them carrying tar sands from Canada, which is extremely difficult to clean up. This could add up to as much as a tenfold increase in the amount of tar sands processed in Bay Area refineries,” the group said.

    The coalition said the Canadian federal government is expected to announce next week whether it will approve the new Trans Mountain Pipeline that would likely supply the tar sands to Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery.

    “Economists have questioned Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s claims that the pipeline would help Canada reach new markets in Asia, instead of simply expanding into existing U.S. markets in California and Washington,” the group stated.

    Over the last five years, two thirds of tankers loaded with crude oil from the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline went to California, according to a 2018 Greenpeace report. Read more: Why Californians are worried about the Trans Mountain pipeline (The Narwhal, October 2018)

    The coalition launched an extensive website at protectthebay.org with factsheets, presentations, and more on the refinery proposal. The coalition asks local community members to get involved to help illustrate the community’s growing opposition to the refinery expansion proposal by:

    Signing the petition urging decisionmakers to reject the Phillips 66 refinery expansion proposal at protectthebay.org/take-action. The petition will be sent to Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and others.

    Sharing your opposition to the Phillips 66 refinery expansion proposal and the increase in oil tankers in San Francisco Bay on social media using the hashtag #TarSandsFreeSFBay.

    Coalition members include Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Crockett-Rodeo United to Defend the Environment (CRUDE), Idle No More SF Bay, Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County, Rodeo Citizens Association, Stand.earth, and Sunflower Alliance. Supporting organizations include 350 Bay Area, Amazon Watch, Fresh Air Vallejo, and San Francisco Baykeeper.

    Representatives of the groups in the coalition commented on the launch of the new group.

    “Our community knows refinery expansions are a dead end,” said Isabella Zizi, Stand.earth. “We need our public officials like the Contra Costa County supervisors to stand with us in preventing new pollution sources from harming our health, and supporting real solutions like a just transition for refinery workers and local economic development that protects air and water quality.”

    “Phillips 66’s reckless plans to increase tanker deliveries to its wharf and refine tar sands at its Rodeo refinery are opposed by tens of thousands of Bay Area residents,” said Shoshana Wechsler, Sunflower Alliance. “These plans endanger our neighbors living near that refinery and the entire San Francisco Bay, and they worsen an already severe climate crisis. People power stopped an oil terminal in Pittsburg, and oil train projects in Benicia and San Luis Obispo. We won’t rest until Phillips 66’s tar sands proposals are dead in the water.”

    “The refinery’s latest plan to expand dilbit imports, cracking of that bitumen, and recovery of those diluent oils threatens to lock in a worst-case future for our climate, air, health, safety, and Bay,” said Greg Karras, Communities for a Better Environment. People have a right to know about this unnecessary threat.”

    “The small towns of Rodeo and nearby Crockett are ‘ground zero’ for tar sands processing in the San Francisco Bay Area, but it’s not just us who will be affected. Sounds from increased tanker traffic will negatively impact the already stressed, killer whale population and hasten its long-term slide to extinction,” said Nancy Rieser, Crockett-Rodeo United Defend the Environment. “Equally important, is the plight of the indigenous communities of Alberta, Canada whose waterways and lands have been devastated by tar sands mining. It is our sincere hope that the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors stand in solidarity with the people they are tasked to serve and do what’s right for the West Coast.”

    “Rodeo Citizens and our neighbors throughout Contra Costa County have been overwhelmed with toxic chemical releases from this refinery,” said Janet Pygeorge, Rodeo Citizens Association. “The asthma rate in Contra Coast County school children is higher than surrounding areas, as is the cancer rate when compared to the national average.”

    The coalition is hosting this upcoming event in the Bay Area:

    July [date TBA]Toxics Tour with community members 
    Take a guided tour of the Bay Area’s refineries and learn about the toxic pollution that people living near the refineries experience every day. This event is open to the public, and reporters are welcome to attend. Contact info [at] protectthebay.org with questions or to RSVP.

    Most Californians, including many environmentalists, are unaware of how effectively Big Oil and the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) have captured California regulators, in spite of the state’s “green” image.

    A review of state permitting records in last year’s report “The Sky’s The Limit: California,” shows that more than 21,000 oil and gas well drilling permits were issued during the Jerry Brown administration. These wells include 238 new offshore wells approved between 2012 and 2016, according to Department of Conservation data analyzed by the Fractracker Alliance: http://www.fractracker.org/

    The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is not a household name in California, but it should be. It’s the trade association for the oil industry and the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying organization in the state. If  you want to know the industries, organizations and people that control California, WSPA and Big Oil are right at the top of the list.

    WSPA represents a who’s who of oil and pipeline companies, including AERA. BP, California Resources Corporation, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon, Plains All American Pipeline Company, Valero and many others. The companies that WSPA represents account for the bulk of petroleum exploration, production, refining, transportation and marketing in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, according to the WSPA website, http://www.wspa.org.

    WSPA and Big Oil wield their power and influence over public discourse in 6 major ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) serving on and putting shills on regulatory panels; (4) creating Astroturf groups: (5) working in collaboration with media; and (6) contributing to non profit organizations.

    For a complete analysis of how Big Oil and WSPA exert their power and influence over public discourse and California regulators, read my article here: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/5/31/1861615/-California-s-Biggest-Secret-How-Big-Oil-Dominates-Public-Discourse-to-Manipulate-and-Deceive


      City of Benicia releases carefully worded cannabis update

      City Manager
      250 East L Street, Benicia, California 94510
      Contact: Lorie Tinfow, City Manager, (707) 746-4200, ltinfow@ci.benicia.ca.us

      City of Benicia Stays on Path to Allow Retail Cannabis Business

      Number of businesses reduced to one that will be selected from existing set of nine proposals.

      Benicia, CA (June 20, 2019) — On June 18, 2019, the City Council for the City of Benicia held a public hearing to consider amendments to Title 17 of the Benicia Municipal Code regarding cannabis. The City Council did not approve any amendments to the Benicia Municipal Code regarding cannabis during this hearing. Instead, on a motion of Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, seconded by Councilmember Steve Young, the City Council approved, on a 3-2 vote, to direct City staff to draft and submit to the Planning Commission and City Council an ordinance which amends Chapter 17.84 (Cannabis) of the Benicia Municipal Code as follows:

      1. Reduce the number of permitted cannabis retail businesses in the City from two to one. The existing nine cannabis retail business applicants would be subject to all requirements of the existing cannabis ordinance.
      2. Amend the existing definition of “school” to clarify that education provided is consistent with State curriculum standards.
      3. Prohibit all future applicants for retail cannabis businesses from locating within 600 feet of a child care center, youth center, learning center, residential zone or public park that is in existence at the time the use permit for a cannabis business is issued.

      In addition, City staff will draft for City Council review and action, a resolution which establishes the procedures for issuance of cannabis use permits, including the process for selection of the cannabis retail business.

      Because there are multiple steps (including hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council) which must be taken before these amendments can become effective, City staff will continue to put any further review and processing of cannabis retail business applications on hold until it has been determined which ordinance amendments, if any, will become final.

      All other types of cannabis businesses—cultivation, testing, manufacturing, distribution, delivery and microbusiness—are allowed subject to adopted conditions.

      For more information, contact: City Manager Lorie Tinfow at (707) 746-4200 or ltinfow@ci.benicia.ca.us