Business' energy agenda light in the face of budget
By Andy Giegerich
Digital Managing Editor
PacifiCorp's Pat Reiten chairs the Oregon Business Plan steering committee, which is looking for solutions to benefit the economy and the environment.
It could be said that Oregon’s lawmakers these days don’t have the energy to deal with energy.
In a legislative session expected to be dominated by Oregon’s ongoing budget problems, energy issues aren’t expected to get much study. Which isn’t to suggest the topic isn’t important: During this year’s Oregon Business Summit, the state’s economic development advocates presented 15 energy-related proposals, ranging from suggestions to out-and-out demands, that they want policy shapers to mull over the next year.
It’s just that pushing any energy — or non revenue-related issues to help address Oregon’s $300 million deficit — during the coming 2012 short legislative session, which starts in February, likely won’t happen.
“The budget will rule everything,” said John Mohlis, executive director of the Oregon State Building and Constructions Trades Council. “There won’t be a lot of big proposals about anything, including energy. Our own strategy is, we’re going to reload and get ready for the 2013 session.”
Until that session comes, economic development backers told Oregon Business Summit attendees they’ll champion the following energy-related initiatives:
• Businesses want to work with their environmental and public sector partners on a plan to “treat” 500,000 acres of federal forests per year over the next 20 years. The “treating” process loosely refers to thinning or harvesting those lands. Industry analysts say the strategy is necessary “to restore the health and resiliency to our federal forests,” according to the Oregon Business Council.
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