There are few places on earth as beautiful as Oregon. Every Oregonian cherishes our clean air and water and wants to protect our public lands, incredible rivers, lakes, beaches, mountains, and trails. For me, protecting what makes Oregon special is non-negotiable. I grew up on the High Desert of Central Oregon and along the banks of the iconic Metolius River. As a state legislator, for 20 years, I represented communities along the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean. I cherish those places.
When I was young, my parents donated land they owned at the headwaters of the Metolius River to the U.S. Forest Service so it would be forever protected and forever accessible to the public. They loved the river so much; they gave it away. My parents’ environmental stewardship set an example for me that runs deep in my DNA. When I was serving in the legislature and private developers wanted to build massive resorts near the beautiful Metolius River, spoiling it forever, I said hell no. I joined other colleagues in passing a law to block the development. It was one of my proudest accomplishments. That year, one of Oregon’s leading environmental groups gave me an award for my environmental leadership.
Today, the greatest threat to our environment is global climate change. While Oregon represents barely one-tenth of 1% of the world’s carbon emissions, we have a responsibility to ourselves and the next generation to do our part to protect our climate and planet.
Oregon’s unique and most important responsibility for addressing climate change is to stop letting our forests burn each year, massive fires that destroy healthy carbon capturing trees, pump toxic pollution into the environment, and threaten lives, livelihoods, and nearby communities. The thing that Oregon can do to most reduce our carbon footprint is to better manage our forest which are burning uncontrollably every year as we fail to do anything about the devastating impacts on our economy, our communities, and the environment.
I believe climate change is real and must be addressed. But too often in Oregon the proposed solutions have been politically symbolic or too extreme, requiring blue collar Oregonians and rural communities to unfairly bear the economic cost of implementing them. The radical cap-and-trade scheme pushed by Kate Brown and Tina Kotek is the best example. With inflation already hammering the budgets of working families, the cost of massive cap-and-trade taxes, fees and regulations would not have only killed thousands of blue-collar jobs, it would also have made the cost of gasoline, diesel, and home energy fuels go through the roof. I opposed the cap-and-trade bill, standing my ground against my own political party. For that, extremists now attack me as a “climate denier,” which is total BS. Over my entire 20 years in the legislature, my average ranking from the left-leaning Oregon League of Conservation Voters is about 60%. I am proud of that. I carefully considered every proposal that came before me and made an independent judgement, based on the best analysis of its impacts, not the demands of any extremist political group.
As Oregon’s independent governor, I will lead the climate fight with practical, common-sense solutions: better forest management, green energy, and greater innovation in emission-reducing technologies. Democrats are right – we need to do more to reduce carbon pollution. But Republicans are right too – we don’t need to destroy good paying jobs and rural economies to do it.
As governor, I will revoke Governor Brown’s ill-conceived executive order to implement her failed cap-and-trade plan through regulatory fiat after she was unable to get it through the legislature. I’ll put Oregonians to work in the woods to better manage our forests, with thinning, controlled burns, and sustainable forestry practices. In addition to better forest management, I will continue pushing Oregon into a green energy future, including protecting the 100% carbon free hydro that provides roughly 50% of our current electricity needs. Like Kate Brown, Tina Kotek wants to tear down critical carbon-free hydro, damaging our regional economy, Eastern Oregon agriculture and vital river transportation. The proposal to take out four Snake River dams could raise energy costs by up to 25%. Oregonians can’t afford that! I will defend our state’s clean and abundant hydro supplies.
Finally, I will prioritize research and innovation through Oregon’s higher education institutions and OMIC, the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center, which I helped get off the ground. OMIC partners with large Oregon manufacturers to create techniques and technologies that are cleaner, greener, and lighter and use less energy.