17 Feb Historic Display of Citizen Engagement at Timber Unity Rally
February 17, 2020
I was thrilled to see so many hardworking Oregonians from across the state at the Timber Unity rally at the Capitol on February 6th. Folks from different communities, different political beliefs and different career backgrounds all came together to express their opposition to the cap-and-trade bill currently being considered by lawmakers. It was easily one of the most impressive displays of citizen engagement in our state’s history.
As the proud owner of a business employing hundreds of Oregonians in a rural community, we were extremely honored to participate in the Timber Unity rally. We were able to send several of our trucks and dozens of our employees down to Salem. Though our participation meant our facilities were running below peak operation for the day, it was well worth it to have the opportunity to join with the working people of Oregon in solidarity against this unaffordable legislation.
Freres Lumber Company has been operating in Oregon for nearly 100 years. We are incredibly proud of the products we make and the men and women who produce them. It’s our hope to continue employing Oregonians and producing quality Oregon-made products for the next 100 years, but legislation like cap-and-trade could force us to make other plans.
We’ve spent much of the past decade dealing with a wave of anti-business regulations and tax increases that have made it more and more difficult for us to continue to invest in this state. While our business has been fortunate enough to overcome these challenges, many of our peers in the industry have not survived. I’m deeply worried about the impact that cap-and-trade would have on Oregon’s economy when stacked on top of the new corporate activities tax and the litany of additional costly mandates adopted in recent years.
To be clear, our operations are not directly regulated under the cap-and-trade bill. But the indirect costs associated with the program would be nothing short of crushing. We would see higher natural gas bills, higher freight costs due to increased gas prices, fiber supply shortages and be forced to navigate an unbelievably complex bureaucratic compliance process controlled by an unelected DEQ board. No thanks!
It’s not just our company that would be punished under this bill. Our employees would be hit just as hard. Though much of our workforce lives in rural communities, the rural gas price protections included in the bill don’t offer much at all. Whether our employees live in Mill City or Salem or points in between, they’ll all see the price of gas increase. Additionally, many of our employees rely on natural gas and/or propane in their homes. We would expect a dramatic increase in the price of these fuels under a cap-and-trade program. It’s simply not fair to ask these hardworking Oregonians to pay so much more out of their pockets for this program, especially when you consider the imperceptible benefits it would offer.
Let’s hope legislators have the good sense to listen to the voices of the thousands of Oregonians that showed up in Salem to protest cap-and-trade bill this week. The best thing they could do is reject this terrible bill.
Rob Freres, President