SALEM — The Oregon legislature's short session began Monday, and lawmakers plan to renew last session's cap-and-trade proposal, a failed bill that would have limited carbon emissions.
This year, the cap-and-trade proposal is known as Senate Bill 1530. And Timber Unity, the group that protested the climate legislation in 2019, will be back to protest the new bill.
Beginning at 7 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 6, Timber Unity will organize a procession of logging trucks that will converge on Salem during the legislative session. Protesters plan to rally on the capitol steps.
On the group's Facebook event page, as of Monday, more than 1,200 people have said they plan to attend the protest, more than 3,600 have marked themselves as interested and hundreds have pledged to drive semi-trucks.
"We have farmers on board, ranchers, natural resources people, truckers, fishing guys," said Adam Lardy, spokesman for Timber Unity. "We're just focusing on cap and trade this protest, because it kills jobs and communities. But our movement is really about fighting overregulation, too."
After the rally, said Angelita Sanchez, another Timber Unity spokeswoman, said the group will begin formally endorsing candidates for political office.
Timber Unity was birthed out of the 2019 legislative session in protest to House Bill 2020, the name for last year's cap-and-trade bill. The legislation was crafted to slash carbon emissions, but it faced opposition from working-class Oregonians, who said it would raise their fuel and natural gas prices and hurt their businesses.
The bill passed the House but failed to pass the Senate. Last session ended with tensions thick after Senate Republicans walked out to deny Democrats a quorum.
This year's bill, SB 1530, appears similar to the 2019 proposal. According to the bill's text, its purpose is to modify "statewide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals."
After 2019's chaos, Gov. Kate Brown met with rural people across Oregon, including members of the Timber Unity group, to talk about their concerns. Kate Kondayen, a spokeswoman for Brown's office, says these conversations resulted in this year's SB 1530, that has been designed to protect jobs and livelihoods in rural communities while simultaneously meeting emissions reduction goals.
But members of Timber Unity say they are skeptical that the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate have their best interests in mind.
"We need to get up there to the capitol and pack it and show 'em," said Fred Simon, a hay and grain farmer from Klamath County, Ore., who attended last year's protest and plans to be at the rally Thursday. "All I want to do in my life is drive my farm truck and fish. I don't want to get shut down by a bunch of people in the capitol who don't listen to my vote."
Simon is one of many rural Oregonians concerned about HB 1530.
Public hearing on the bill will begin at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4 in Hearing Room C at the Oregon State Capitol.
Because public interest in SB 1530 is immense, the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources states it will limit public testimony to two minutes per person.