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Crook County Judge Seth Crawford joins rally, gives speech at the state capital

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Seth CrawfordThousands of Oregonians fighting against cap and trade legislation held a Timber Unity rally Thursday, and Crook County Judge Seth Crawford joined the effort.

Timber Unity is a grassroots organization representing different industries that would be adversely affected by cap and trade, including forestry, transportation and agriculture. The rally included a large convoy of truck drivers that made a trip in their rigs to the state capitol. Crawford caught a ride from Prineville in one of the trucks.

"I drove over the night before in order to meet with our legislators and other county commissioners," he said. "The next day (local contractor) Jace Rhoden picked me up, and we drove down to the Capitol building. There were 12 vehicles from Crook County that met up with a group from Central Oregon that totaled 30."

Crawford remembers seeing Salem filled with tons of hard-working Oregonians standing up for their way of life and "driving and riding in the very vehicles that (Gov.) Kate Brown and the rest of the legislative leadership is trying to ban."

"Hearing the air horns all day around the Capitol building and all throughout the building filled me with pride for the Timber Unity movement," he said.

While he was at the Capitol, Crawford gave a speech directed at lawmakers and Brown, stressing how the cap and trade legislation would hurt Crook County and other rural communities.

"I drove here today to tell you I am deeply concerned that it will devastate the community I live in," he said. "The young family starting a business in Crook County will no longer be able to purchase the older equipment to enable them to work and build their business.  What you are doing is killing the middle class in rural Oregon."

Crawford went on to question the stated motives behind the legislation.

"Oregon is already one of the greenest states in the nation, which is where I believe the arrogance of this proposal is rooted," he said. "The truth at this moment is that legislators have already appeased the big money interests affected by these policies.  All of those with the means to be professionally represented in the lobby have gotten their carve-outs and exemptions.

"In a last desperate attempt to salvage a political win, Kate Brown and legislative leadership have decided to place responsibility for all of their lofty rhetoric on the least powerful, least represented, and most economically vulnerable of our state: rural Oregonians."

Crawford said that the bill will accomplish very little in terms of world climate and is not "about our common future or even about our Oregon."

"It is about your failure to envision a future that is fair and equitable for all Oregon and to enact solutions that bring us together rather than tear us apart at a time when rural Oregon is at its most economically vulnerable and least politically powerful position," he said. "You are asking us to pay the price for your failures. To me and my community, this is not just bad policy, it is morally corrupt."

Reflecting on his experience, Crawford said he feels blessed to have been part of "such a great and important movement."

"It is so important for rural Oregon to tell Salem what their legislation will do to our way of life," he said.

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