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Answers to Key Questions in Oregon’s Climate Change Walkout – The New York Times

A partisan legislative standoff in Oregon persisted on Monday, as Republican state lawmakers stayed clear of the state Capitol for the fifth day in a row in an effort to block a climate change bill that Democrats are pressing to approve.

Democrats, who control the Oregon Senate as well as the House of Representatives, were preparing to vote on the measure last week when all 11 Republican senators disappeared. Without the votes to reject the bill, which would require businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Republicans denied the Democrats a needed quorum, blocking a vote from taking place in the Senate.

Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, has ordered the Oregon State Police to find the Senate Republicans and bring them back to the Capitol in Salem for a vote. As of Monday morning, none of the Republicans had been found. Some were said to have left the state. And there was no sign of a resolution.

Oregon Democrats are trying to push through a bill that would significantly decrease the amount of greenhouse gases that businesses are legally allowed to emit. The Democrats say the bill is needed to reduce the effects of global warming.

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CreditAlex Milan Tracy/Sipa, via Associated Press

Senate Republicans say the legislation would have a devastating effect on farmers, dairies and the state’s struggling logging industry, among others. More than that, Republicans say, the bill represents an existential threat to rural life, and they want the residents of Oregon to decide on the proposal, not the Democrats who control the state’s capital.

Democrats say the bill is critical to slowing the onset of climate change, which in Oregon has been blamed for drought and an extensive algae bloom off the coast in 2015 that devastated the shellfish industry from California to Alaska.

The highly debated bill would make Oregon one of several states to impose an emissions-trading program, a market-based approach to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The bill would place limits on the amount of carbon dioxide that businesses could lawfully emit. By 2050, for instance, the bill would mandate an 80 percent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels.

Some businesses would be required to buy credits for every ton of greenhouse gas they produce. Those credits would then be purchased at special auctions and traded among businesses. Over time, the state would make fewer credits available, ultimately forcing companies to pollute less. The plan, commonly known as cap-and-trade, is modeled after a 2016 California law.

The official end of the legislative session is only a few days away, on Sunday, but Ms. Brown has threatened to call a special session if the climate change bill and other Democratic priorities can’t come to a vote by then because the Republicans haven’t reappeared.

It is the second time in six weeks that Oregon Republicans — outnumbered in Salem — have been frustrated enough to flee in order to delay a vote they opposed. In May, Republicans disappeared for four days to halt a vote on a school funding tax plan. Oregon is by no means the first state in which a minority party vanished in order to block a majority party from voting on an issue.

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