Covering Oregon’s consideration of cap-and-trade legislation and relationship to California’s program, Rachel Becker of CALmatters spoke with Near Zero’s Danny Cullenward.

Auction income will help fund statewide greening projects to reduce or soak up greenhouse gases, help Oregon adapt to climate change, or transition the state to clean energy.  But Oregon’s constitution could throw a wrench into those plans, because income linked to fuel sales for vehicles might be restricted to road and highway projects. The state won’t know for sure without a court decision.

That worries Danny Cullenward, policy director at climate change think-tank Near Zero and a member of the Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee, who thinks restricting where the revenue can go could hurt the program’s popularity. “The political economy of the process turns on the way we use revenue,” he said. “If you spend money on targeted sectors, they might support your work. Oregon doesn’t really have that flexibility.”

Here’s why that matters: if Oregon’s cap-and-trade program crashes and burns, it will hurt the chances of carbon trading in other states. When it comes to market-based programs, “there’s a growing perception that they’re ineffective and that they’re being used to delay or defray action,” Cullenward said. “If it continues to not go well, it’s going to increase resistance to these programs among the climate activist community whose support is essential.”

Read the full article, “No longer the loneliest? Why Oregon’s all-in climate push matters to California,” by Rachel Becker, on the CALmatters website.