After finding out the equipment he purchased for his fledgling logging business would be obsolete should lawmakers in Salem push through a carbon cap and trade bill, Bryan Cates realized that he could no longer sit quietly.
The Mt. Vernon business owner came across Timber Unity, a group of truckers, loggers and farmers statewide that had helped derail a similar cap and trade bill’s passage last spring.
“I feel like Timber Unity is finally giving us a voice in Salem,” Cates said.
So when he heard Democrats were planning to bring back a modified cap and trade bill that would roll out in cities and then gradually extend into rural areas, the Grant County native did not hesitate to make the trek to Salem.
Cates and a like-minded friend from Powell Butte piled into a hay truck and joined the 1,000-truck convoy to the State Capitol.
“I was very impressed by how peaceful the demonstration was,” Cates said. “We left the area cleaner than when we found it.”
Cates said the protesters were mindful of being perceived as radicals or “militia-like.”
“We (Timber Unity) are not like Antifa,” Cates said.
Cates said it was a positive, upbeat rally and that commissioners from rural counties came out and visited with the protesters.
Cates said the organization has representation from rural counties across the state, but currently, Grant County does not have a fully participating Timber Unity representative.
Cates hopes that, after the rally, someone in the county will step into the role. He said he might if there is no interest from anyone else in Grant County.
While Cates traveled alone from Grant County, he was not alone in his opposition to the carbon cap and trade bill.
Jim Hamsher, Grant County commissioner, said the bill is tax and should be referred to voters statewide.
“We need to promote the advantages of forestry and wood products as Oregon’s best option to carbon-capture and carbon life-cycle calculations,” Hamsher said. “I would like to refocus Oregon’s carbon on greater active forest management. Any solution should grow Oregon forests, farms and working families.”