Truck drivers, timber workers and supporters from around the state are expected to converge on Salem for a second Timber Unity rally on Thursday.
The rally is intended to convey the group’s opposition to proposed legislation that would create a carbon cap and trade program. A similar proposal failed last year after a walkout by Republican senators opposed to the plan. Thousands rallied in opposition to the bill at the first Timber Unity rally in June.
SALEM — Thousands of truckers, timber workers and others converged on the Capitol Thursday a…
Senate Bill 1530 would set a goal to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 45% below 1990 levels by 2035 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Greenhouse gases contribute to climate change that scientists say will become catastrophic if not curtailed in the next decade. The bill would create a cap-and-trade program in which businesses are given specific caps on carbon emissions and must purchase allowances if they emit more.
Opponents say the state’s contribution to worldwide greenhouse gases is minimal and the restrictions will kill jobs in fuel-dependent industries like timber, trucking and agriculture. Many opponents refer to the plan as a carbon tax.
Local Convoy Captain Larry Needham said Douglas County residents participating in the rally will meet up at the Douglas County Fairgrounds at 3:30 a.m. and head north by 4 a.m. He’s expecting about 600 Southern Oregon trucks will be in the convoy and expects about 10,000 protesters at the Capitol, making for an even bigger rally than last year’s.
“We have people from all walks of life. We have Republicans, Democrats, you know, because this is an Oregon problem. It’s a bipartisan problem,” Needham said.
Needham is the safety manager for Wilbur-based Gene Whitaker, Inc. He first read about last year’s version of the carbon bill on Facebook before attending legislative hearings on it. He said he was not impressed.
“It was just amazing to me how people were not listened to. It was one of those things where we have to make our voice be heard. They work for us,” he said.
Needham said greenhouse gases should be reduced, but he doesn’t think a carbon tax is the way to handle the problem.
“When you look at Oregon’s emissions comparatively to around the world, they’ve said that we’re going to make like 0.01% of the world’s greenhouse gases. I’m not saying we don’t need to do change, we just need to do it in a different manner,” he said. “You have to take into account the lives that are being affected.”
He said he also hopes the rally encourages more people to vote, and to vote for a more bipartisan legislature.