Electric bus takes activists to Salem to push for climate bills

This electric bus made by BYD drove environmentalists from Portland to Salem on Monday to push lawmakers to support two greenhouse gas reduction bills. (KATU Photo)

A group of Portlanders lobbying for a clean energy jobs bill took an all-electric bus to Salem on Monday.

One of those on board was eighth-grader Jeremy Clark.

Last year he lobbied for a similar bill. He said not much has changed since then.

"People have been saying the bill is just not good enough, that we're rushing the legislation," he said. "There's already 10 states who've put this legislation in place, so I think it's time for Oregon to become a leader again in climate solutions."

The company that makes the bus is BYD. It claims the trip from Portland to Salem costs just $5.50 in electricity compared to the $67 of fuel it would take to get a diesel bus down there.

Democrats are calling the two greenhouse gas reduction bills under consideration this year as the Clean Energy Jobs bills. They are Senate Bill 1507 and House Bill 4001. The bills would cap the amount emissions allowed in the state each year and then require large emitters to buy and sell allowances at auctions. The revenues from those auctions would in part be invested in green projects.

While Republicans have said this year’s short 35-day session underway now is not the time to pass huge and complicated legislation, even Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat from Salem who supports the program, has been wary of trying to push through big bills this year.

The fate of the bills is under certain, but public hearings have been held on them and work session sessions were scheduled for today.

Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters showed up at the Capitol Monday to push lawmakers to pass the bills.

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