Hippie Enviros And Big Timber Reached A Deal, And Oregon GOP Is Losing Its Miiiiiiind
As Oregon — or at least its most populous parts — has become an increasingly blue state, Republicans just don't know what to do with themselves, at least when they're not auctioning off semiautomatic rifles to honor Martin Luther King. There are still plenty of red counties once you get east of the Cascade Mountains, but the people they elect to the state legislature have been in the minority for some time, and have largely been reduced to just blocking as much legislation as they can manage — even if it means they have to bug out of the state to block climate legislation. The worst thing about their new status as the party of permanent obstruction? In the case of their walkout to prevent a vote on the cap-and-trade bill last June, it worked.
But now, the GOP delegation in the state lege faces a dire new threat: Some of the corporations Republicans assumed would always be on their side seem far more interested in making money than in sticking it to the Democratic majority. On Monday, a bunch of Oregon's timber industry groups announced they'd reached an agreement with a bunch of Oregon environmental groups — over two dozen industry and eco groups all together — to work with a mediator on future legislation. The two biggest goals are passing updates to the state's outdated forest-management laws, and creating a "statewide Habitat Conservation Plan" that would govern protections for endangered and threatened species on private timber acreage.
The memorandum of understanding between the industry and environmental groups should finally break a logjam (not a literal one) on legislation this session to regulate aerial pesticide spraying. The groups agreed to work together on the bill, and if it passes, neither side will launch lawsuits or ballot initiatives to block it. When she announced the agreement Monday, Gov. Kate Brown said it's "a genuine show of good faith from everyone involved" and that it would make sure "all key voices will be heard" in future legislation. Industry and environmental-group spokespeople made similar statements about playing nicely together and getting things done.
And that's why Republicans in the state Senate feel outraged and betrayed.
Damn logging interests won't play ball on blocking progress, even though the GOP has been such good friends to them! The Senate Republican leader, Herman Baertschiger Jr., whined Tuesday that Big Trees had no loyalty, no loyalty at all:
These people come into our offices, ask us to do things for them and then turn around and throw us under the bus [...] You kind of scratch your head and say: who are we fighting for?
Those traitors seem to think having a stable regulatory system in place will be better for business than an endless string of lawsuits and ballot initiatives. Such monsters. They probably didn't even agree to force all environmentalists to rake the forest floors. Whatever happened to their devotion to spraying pesticides as close to streams as they want, like the Founders fought and died for?
The Salem Statesman-Journal also reports that the industry leaders didn't even tell GOP leadership about the agreement, leaving the poor Republicans to find out about it once it was a done deal.
The agreement doesn't apply to the next version of the cap-and-trade bill that's expected to be introduced this session, but Baertschiger said the vital job of blocking any action on climate would now be a lot harder. My god, if industry goes along with any part of the owl-huggers' agenda, next thing you know they might even agree to reduced carbon emissions and sustainable forestry practices. It's madness!
Baertschiger later met with two industry honchos so he could give them a piece of his mind, and said he "expressed my frustration in their behavior." Just how petulant was he? "After they left this office I don't know if they're too interested in talking to me again for awhile," said the disappointed crybaby, aghast at the dreaded specter of bipartisan cooperation.
One of the industry guys, Greg Miller, who heads the coalition of timber groups that signed the agreement, praised it Monday, saying it "sets Oregon up for the most comprehensive, forward thinking forest policy in the nation." We can only assume Baertschiger greeted that by screaming "No! That's not true! That's impossible!" then losing his grip on an improbably high platform and falling down a waste chute. But he's not a good guy, so there was no Millennium Falcon to rescue him.
There hasn't been an election between last year's Republican walkout and now, so if there's any danger this year's climate bill might actually pass, the GOP could still make a run for the Washington and Idaho border, with or without the support of armed antigovernment terrorists or threats to shoot state police. If they do, that could be the last time they get away with it, since voters are gathering signatures to put a measure on this fall's ballot that would fine AWOL legislators and ban them from running for reelection.
O, the tyranny!
Correction: Story updated to clarify that the measures to punish AWOL legislators are a citizen initiative, not a constitutional amendment as originally stated. I conflated two different stories; there had been talk of an amendment to change Senate rules to prevent walkouts, but that seems to have been dropped. Wonkette regrets the error.
[Salem Statesman-Journal via Seth Cotlar on Twitter / Statesman-Journal / AP / Photo by Michael Richardson, Creative Commons license 3.0]
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