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Feb-24-2020 10:07printcomments

Understanding The Oregon Truckers' Fight

Truckers perceive the cap-and-trade bill as a threat to the overall industry.

Photo by Indira Tjokorda on Unsplash

(SALEM, Ore.) - Early February has seen another re-occurrence of trucker protests in Salem, with KATU and other news agencies reporting that hundreds of drivers created a blockade rally on February 6th near the State Capitol.

In broad opposition to the controversial proposal to enact a carbon cap-and-trade bill, the protests have also highlighted a number of heated topics that Oregon and nationwide drivers are facing. This fight has been going on for years, the framework for a carbon pricing program in Oregon was first developed in 2007.

In 2018, Oregonian writer Ted Sickinger described it as "a job-killing energy sales tax that will deliver little benefit for the planet."

Understanding these issues gives Salem residents a chance to understand why such drastic action is being taken.

HB 2020 B calls for the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 45% below 1990 emissions levels by 2035 and to at least 80% below by 2050.

Safety issues

Truck drivers remain one of the most at-risk driver groups in the USA. While fatal road accidents involving trucks are declining nationally, truck accident lawyer firms in Salem still see dozens of cases move through every year, with KOIN reporting a 13 injury pileup as recently as November.

Robust legal protection helps truckers to protect themselves, but legal changes may impact this. According to PBS, the Trump administration is set to ease drive-time rules, and this has been linked with the potential for more tiredness on the roads as companies see to use those extra labor hours. Without robust legal protections, truck drivers are understandably apprehensive.

Threats to livelihood

The cap-and-trade bill is opposed so strongly by truckers due to the impact it may have on carbon-emitting industry. Trucker vehicles are responsible for large CO2 emissions, but this is gradually reducing as the technology available to cab manufacturers improves.

Tesla famously debuted their idea of an autonomous, all-electrical truck that would consume just a sliver of the energy current vehicles do. This is a sticking point for truckers, who have found the bill to be overwhelmingly negative and not inclusive of potential future changes in tech.

A declining industry

Truckers are already in hot demand in the USA. According to Modern Bulk Transporter, over two dozen states are making active pleas for people to come and drive goods. However, truckers have perceived the cap-and-trade bill as being a threat to the overall industry.

Whether or not the bill will actually prevent the trade from growing is another matter, but truckers are eager to be heard and have this aspect of the legislation properly considered.

Trucking is a dangerous but essential job, and those involved are eager to be a political force. In the face of new legislation that could effect the industry and its growth, protests are being organized.

The actual outcome of any legislative efforts can’t be predicted, but understanding the issue will help to create a dialogue.

Source: Special Features Dept.


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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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