SALEM, Ore. — Angelita Sanchez’s message was loud and clear when she spoke about the renewed effort in the Oregon Legislature to pass a new cap-and-trade bill.
“We’re fed up,” Sanchez said. “The Legislature is giving us a false narrative so they can shove through a tax scam. But there’s no more room for these taxes. We’ve been working, working, working, and there’s no room to pinch anymore. So we’re saying enough is enough.”
Sanchez said the new legislation, a similar proposal to 2019’s cap-and-trade bill, is 157 pages and counting. The bill would limit the carbon dioxide emissions of some businesses in urban areas, but rural residents say the costs of the bill will ultimately be passed on to them as well.
Sanchez spoke Wednesday at the 50th Northwest Agricultural Show.
The Legislature’s five-week session begins Feb. 3, with lawmakers in the Democratic supermajority planning to push through the new bill.
On Feb. 6, Timber Unity members plan to take their complaints to the Capitol with a truck convoy and a protest — while also deploying semi-truck fleets to demonstrate in Portland and other cities the same day.
Last year’s attempt to limit carbon dioxide emissions flopped. Protesters, most of whom were part of Timber Unity’s movement, rallied in Salem against the bill. The measure provoked a nine-day walkout by Senate Republicans in late June. They returned two days before the session ended. By then, the bill was dead.
“I thought last year’s bill was bad,” said Sanchez. “And it was. But I think this year’s bill may be worse.”
After 2019’s legislative chaos, Gov. Kate Brown met with rural residents from across the state and listened to their concerns. According to Kate Kondayen, deputy communications director for Brown, the governor is committed to “ensure the bill protects jobs and livelihoods in rural communities.”
Sanchez, however, said that although the bill may not target rural communities initially, it has the potential to hold them under its power later. This is because, according to the legislation’s text, once 19 counties have bought into the cap-and-trade program, the legislation will then apply to the rest of Oregon, too.
“The reality is,” said Julie Parrish, another spokesperson for Timber Unity, “the Legislature is really saying, ‘Here’s your first bite of the apple, then here’s your next bite.’”
Although Timber Unity formed in 2019 to protest cap-and-trade legislation, the movement has mushroomed into something broader.
When Sanchez joined the movement last summer, she wanted to stand up for her trucking business. Now, she said, the movement runs a political action committee and a nonprofit, teaches people how to exercise their political rights, is planning new chapters in five states and will begin endorsing political candidates Feb. 6 at the upcoming rally.
“Why in the circle of life do we have to deal with stuff like this crushing us?” asked Phil Kuehnel, 85, a retired salesman from Yamhill County. He was sporting red suspenders that said “Loggers World” — one word per suspender. “I tell you, it’s time we stood up.”