The trucks rolled into Salem Thursday morning, the vehicles representing people who have jobs and pay taxes that make possible all manner of government services.

Including the very pavement over which the rigs rolled.

They came to the state capital in their hundreds to make a point that Oregon lawmakers seem to struggle to understand as they pursue the laudable goal of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for climate change.

That point is that although Oregon’s contribution to this global problem is minuscule — on the order of one-sixth of 1 percent of global carbon emissions — the likely effects on the state’s residents and taxpayers are significant.

It’s that lack of balance between the benefits and the negative effects that led to the Timber Unity movement last year. It’s a movement that’s obviously still strong, based on the turnout for Thursday’s protest in Salem.

The newest version of the emissions bill that failed in 2019 — after a group of Republican state senators left the state to deny the Senate a quorum (the House passed the bill) — isn’t as onerous as the original.

The bill under consideration in Salem now — Senate Bill 1530 — would, among other things, exempt Baker County and the rest of Eastern Oregon from the increase in fuel prices that the Legislative Revenue Office says would result from the bill’s passage.

But some legislators contend that even the modified version would siphon hundreds of millions of dollars from Oregon’s economy into state coffers. And although proponents tout the ways this money could be spent — job training in renewable energy industries for displaced workers and loans to manufacturers to reduce emissions, for instance — there is no guarantee that these programs would replace lost jobs.

The complexities of this legislation are reason enough for the Legislature to drop the bill from the current session, which is limited to 35 days. Proponents also have the option of taking their case directly to voters in the form of a ballot measure.

— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor

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