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Measure would ratchet down carbon emissions in Oregon to meet state climate change goals, likely raising energy and other costs.

DREAMSTIME  -     A new poll commissioned by The Nature Conservancy found strong support among Oregon voters for a proposed "cap and invest" measure to address climate change, considered one of the major issues before the 2019 Legislature.

In a phone survey of 600 likely voters by FM3 Research, 44 percent said they strongly support the cap-and-invest bill and another 28 percent said they somewhat support it. Combined, that's 71 percent in support, versus 27 percent opposed, including 9 percent who said they somewhat oppose it and 18 percent who said they strongly oppose it.

Pollsters found 80 percent of voters in urban areas supported the plan along with 67 percent of rural voters.

The Oregon bill, as currently framed, would set a cap on greenhouse gas emissions permitted in the state, and require large emitters to buy permits based on the carbon pollution their products cause. Terms would change over time to achieve reduced emissions. Money generated from sale of permits would be invested in renewable energy, energy-efficiency projects, reducing fire risk and job training, among other possibilities.

Critics are apt to point out that people polled might think otherwise once they realize the measure will drive up the cost of their auto fuel and other energy, as those are the primary sources of carbon emissions in Oregon.

The pollsters' question used to gauge majority support did not mention the cost to Oregonians.

However, in a separate question, 55 percent of likely voters said the fees should apply to oil companies at the outset, though "this might mean a small increase in fuel prices in the near term."

While that's positive news for advocates of the cap-and-invest policy, the verbiage may be understating the likely increase in fuel costs under the proposal, based on prior studies.

Voters' top preference for deploying the funds was to protect and restore forests that provide natural filters to clean our air and water, followed by reducing wildfires by improving forest health.

FM3 Research, based in California, said its poll had a 4 percent margin of error, meaning the results might be off by 4 percentage points in either direction.

"The Cap and Invest proposal in Oregon will ensure reduced emissions over time, give businesses options for meeting their caps and generate funds to invest in added climate mitigation and adaptation measures," stated Catherine Macdonald, director of climate policy for The Nature Conservancy Oregon, in a media release accompanying the poll results. "Putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions is an important part of a comprehensive approach to address climate change."

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