Former legislator and frequent initiative author Kevin Mannix and his Salem ballot measure law firm “Common Sense for Oregon” are promoting an initiative for 2016 that styles itself as the “Respect Oregon Voters Act.” The act has two very different aspects: the first might be called the “Full Employment for Election Lawyers and Overtime for Judges Act” and the second could be “Soundbite Politics Act.”
The “Full Employment for Election Lawyers and Overtime for Judges Act” portion of the initiative would make county or state election officials very hesitant to strike dubious signatures on initiative and referendum petitions, because every time they strike a signature, that official would be subject to being hailed into circuit court in a kind of “mandamus” proceeding (a top priority proceeding) by either the voter whose signature was challenged, or the chief petitioner for the petition, with the goal being an order requiring that the signature be counted. The courts would be required to hear the challenges over the signatures in time for the challenged petitions to count towards qualifying the petition for the ballot – which means Oregon’s underfunded courts would see a sudden influx of top-priority civil cases every election year.
The “Soundbite Politics Act” would create a high-speed bypass for ballot titles by allowing any initiative or referendum of 100 words or fewer to be placed on the ballot verbatim, with no ballot title or summary. This part of the initiative would also define how the voter’s choice would be structured for ballot initiatives: “After an enacting or amendatory clause, and the text of the measure, the ballot shall provide for the voter to vote “Yes” as a vote in favor of adopting the measure, and for the voter to vote “No” as a vote against adopting the measure.” This seems straightforward enough, but it unclear whether this structure would apply to initiatives where the entire petition exceeds 100 words.
It is unclear how these two very different topics can be combined in one initiative, given the Oregon Constitution’s requirement that initiatives only address one subject: “A proposed law or amendment to the Constitution shall embrace one subject only and matters properly connected therewith.” The drafters of this proposal seem to want to suggest that challenging possibly defective signatures is not respecting the voters; however, the opposite argument could easily be made, that ensuring that only qualified voters help place measures on the ballot and preventing signature fraud is at least as respectful of voters. And how creating a special process for certain initiatives – those of fewer than 100 words – is respecting the voters is unclear, and bears no obvious connection to adding a costly legal challenge option to petition signature fights.
The People of the State of Oregon adopt the following statute:
Another initiative from the Mannix shop likely to reach the ballot this year ahead is a proposed constitutional amendment styled as “Protect Family Giving from Taxes.” It is yet another salvo in the long-running barrage of efforts to destroy any measures that limit the accumulation of family fortunes. Given the wealthy backers who might favor this initiative, it seems likely to reach the ballot. Then the question will be whether the 99+% of Oregonians who will never pay a dime in estate tax (federal or state) can be convinced to eliminate the last bit of progressive tax policy remaining from Theodore Roosevelt’s campaign to put some limits on vast fortunes that were building up to a hereditary feudal society in The Gilded Age.
PROTECT FAMILY GIVING FROM TAXES
Another proposal to amend the Oregon Constitution from the Mannix shop is called the “Oregon Lottery Local Control Act,” a strange idea indeed. The amendment would make it a matter of constitutional importance that the state give up half the funds that the state raises through the Oregon State Lottery.
Instead of the state lottery proceeds going to state needs, as determined by the representatives from across the state, this initiative would create a slush fund for each county, where the county commissioners would apportion the half of the total revenue taken away from the state legislature.
From the share going to Oregon’s 36 counties, 10% (5% of the total state lottery take) would be divided up equally, with the other 90% (45% of total lottery revenue) divided by the counties according to how much of the state’s total lottery revenue was provided by the math-challenged residents in each county. Thus, this proposal reverses the trend of the 20th Century, where court decisions from the civil rights era onward did away with the "county rule" idea that had dominated politics, particularly in the South, and had led to gross distortions in political power. Under County Rule systems, counties, often sparsely populated compared to cities, take a preferred position in governance and taxation policy. Before the "one person, one vote" era, legislators were often elected along county lines, so that voters in densely populated cities had only a fraction of the voting power of their rural cousins. This amendment recalls that era, proposing to reward sparsely populated rural counties for being sparsely populated rural counties.
So counties like Malheur and Wheeler may want this badly: Even if there are no lottery tickets sold in those counties all year, they would each be in line for a 5/36th share of the half-share of state lottery take, no questions asked, no strings allowed. A little less than a seventh of a percent does not sound like much – until you realize that the Oregon State Lottery generates about half a billion dollars a year in revenue, so a 5/36th share of half of that revenue is about $35 million. What is unclear is why voters in the populous counties in the Willamette Valley would want to vote to reduce the share of lottery funds that could wind up benefiting themselves. And the next question, should this idea somehow pass, is how long before the Portland metro counties get together and propose a different allocation entirely, one that gives a bonus to the "top producer" counties that generate the vast bulk of the lottery proceeds. The rural counties would be in no position to complain, having themselves established the idea that the distribution of lottery funds is something for counties to fight for.
OREGON LOTTERY LOCAL CONTROL ACT
With the proposed constitutional amendment to send millions of dollars of state lottery money to counties without regard to population, it seems appropriate to revisit the current split of lottery money.
Article XV “Miscellaneous”
The "Clean Economy Initiative" that may reach the ballot in 2016 is an attempt to prevent any new or expanded fossil-fuel infrastructure from being created in Oregon, and it would also define commercial transport containers larger than 50 gallons as infrastructure under the law.
In terms of significance, this initiative would likely have a far greater effect on Oregon's future than the much-more publicized tax initiatives that will command attention of the corporate press. OregonPEN will follow this initiative's progress closely in 2016. The one-sentence description and the one paragraph summary below are taken from the Pacific Green Party:
In one sentence: This initiative would prohibit the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure in the state of Oregon.
What Oregon needs more than an end to the mandatory retirement age is something to address the growing role of money in determining who sits on our appellate courts. While Oregon has not yet seen the kinds of campaigns that have marred states such as Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia, it is likely only a matter of time before corporations notice that Oregon’s total absence of campaign contribution limits makes judicial seats prime investment candidates.
In 2010, three candidates for two seats raised and spent just a hair over $100,000; but in 2012, four candidates for two seats (one uncontested, with the other three vying for the remaining seat) raised and spent over $750,000.
BALDWIN, RICHARD C SUPREME COURT Won
Total Amount Raised: $430,832
Communications & Electronics $10550
Energy & Natural Resources $500
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate $500
General Business $2000
Government Agencies/Education/Other $4100
Ideology/Single Issue $36194
Lawyers & Lobbyists $176959
Unitemized Contributions $41661
Candidate Contributions $54045
COOK, NENA SUPREME COURT Lost - General Election
Total Amount Raised: $253,837
Communications & Electronics $250
Energy & Natural Resources $200
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate $58550
General Business $5750
Government Agencies/Education/Other $2950
Ideology/Single Issue $1000
Lawyers & Lobbyists $53791
Unitemized Contributions $26417
Candidate Contributions $92295
SERCOMBE, TIMOTHY J SUPREME COURT Lost - Primary Election
Total Amount Raised: $66,740
Communications & Electronics $250
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate $850
General Business $200
Government Agencies/Education/Other $1150
Lawyers & Lobbyists $38298
Unitemized Contributions $17005
Candidate Contributions $1600
Data from The National Center on State Courts, using data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
Without public financing of judicial campaigns or a fundamental change away from traditional elections, judicial elections in Oregon are likely to follow the tragic pattern in other states, where only candidates who appeal to the wealthy are able to run credible campaigns, much less prevail.
Coming up in 2016, Oregonians will vote on whether to abolish its current mandatory retirement age of 75 for judges, deciding a referral made by the Legislature during the 2015 regular legislative session.
A mandatory retirement age seems inconsistent with letting the voters elect judges; presumably, the voters are able to determine when to retire a judge remaining too long on the bench. However, the National Center for State Courts points out that, in Oregon, judges are not so much elected as selected, with 85% of Oregon judges elevated to the bench by vote of just one person, the Governor:
The Oregon judiciary consists of a supreme court, a court of appeals, a circuit court, a tax court, and various trial courts of limited jurisdiction. Oregon judges have been chosen in nonpartisan elections since 1931. The governor appoints judges to fill mid-term vacancies on the courts, and the appointee stands for election at the next general election. In recent years, approximately 85% of Oregon judges have first been appointed rather than elected to office, and the vast majority were unopposed in elections to retain their seats.
78th OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY--2015 Regular Session
This proposal to abolish the mandatory retirement age for judges would be fairly significant, given how little changed the system for judicial selection has been since 1910 (moving to statewide elections for the Supreme Court, then the only appeals court) and 1931, when Oregon adopted a nominally nonpartisan system of judicial elections, removing partisan labels from the ballot.
In 1976, in the wake of the Watergate scandal and the first presidential resignation in Washington, D.C., Oregonians amended the Constitution to allow the Supreme Court to discipline lower-court judges. Thus, the 2016 proposal to abolish mandatory retirement age follows logically from the change forty years earlier, since it addresses the worry about judges who have diminished capacity but are unwilling to retire. The current Article VII of the Oregon Constitution on the judicial branch:
ARTICLE VII (Amended)
The Oregon Insurance Division website has a secret. A big secret.
There’s just one problem.
The secret is something that shouldn’t be a secret: It’s Oregon’s new auto insurance “stacking” law and the fast-approaching January 2 date when the law takes effect for all newly issued or renewed auto insurance policies.
Stacking is news that the division should be sharing with every Oregon driver in as many media as possible, from shouting from the rooftops to announcements on the radio and public access TV, legislator mailing lists, and -- of course – on the division’s own website and press releases.
Why is it so important to get the news out to Oregonians about stacking? Because the stacking law – which fixes a giant snafu in Oregon insurance policies – only applies prospectively, meaning that all the existing policies in force on January 2 still operate under the old rules. And the old rules were a gigantic ripoff because they let insurance companies charge drivers for under-insured motorists coverage but not pay for claims.
Even more bizarre, the old law (which applies to your policy right now and will continue to apply until you renew your policy, after January 1) actually allows insurance companies to deduct from your under-insured motorists’ coverage the amount of liability coverage carried by the at-fault driver who hit you.
Here’s how the change was explained by Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards, a law firm based in Vancouver, Washington, where stacking has long been the rule:
Earlier this year, when the Oregon Legislature passed the new stacking law in Senate Bill 411, they wrote it so that it did not take effect on January 1; instead, the law provides that the new stacking coverage only applies to policies that the insurance companies issue or renew after January 2.
That twist is why consumer advocates – which, presumably, ought to include Oregon’s Insurance Division – are working overtime to spread the word to Oregonians that they need to contact their insurance agents or carriers to make sure that their policy is renewed early so that it can be re-issued with a January 2 effective date, so that the improved stacking coverage applies and the anti-stacking ripoff stops.
Given the importance of the new stacking law and the complete silence about the new law from the Oregon Insurance Division (see “Give Oregonians vital information? Who, us?” in this issue), OregonPEN became curious about what the division does think worthy of telling Oregonians. Here’s what we found, and found wanting, in the division’s booklet “Consumer Guide to Auto Insurance (downloads a pdf)”
1. No mention of stacking anywhere – and, worse, no mention of the current “anti-stacking” rule that lets companies charge you for illusory coverage.
The division’s consumer guide is about 6,000 words.
“Stacking” is not one of them.
Given the rude shock that injured Oregonians get under the current law when they discover that paying for $100,000 of uninsured and under-insured motorists (UM/UIM) coverage means they have only $75,000 of bodily injury coverage available to them if they are hit by someone carrying only the state minimum bodily insurance coverage of $25,000 [!], it’s a pretty significant omission.
What does the division say about UM/UIM coverage when explaining the types of coverages? "Uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage pays medical, rehabilitation, and funeral expenses, loss of earnings, and other damages if you or your family are involved in a vehicle, bicycle, or pedestrian accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist or a hit-and-run driver."
Not a word about the absurd anti-stacking math that applies today, where your $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage plus the at-fault driver’s $25,000 minimum bodily injury limits adds up to $75,000 instead of $125,000. Ok, but what about in the section of the booklet that explains state minimum insurance requirements?
• Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage
That seems pretty clear: If you buy UIM (underinsured motorist coverage), your insurance company has to “pay all expenses that would normally be paid by the other person’s company if you are hurt by an . . . underinsured motorist.”
Even better, the division encourages you to buy MORE insurance because of the risk that an underinsured motorist doesn’t have the assets to pay your medical bills once your damages are really bad and your bills are really high. You’d think if there was a hidden deduction – as there is today in Oregon -- from the UIM coverage it would be pretty important for the state insurance division to warn consumers about that.
2. Other Missing Words: Lawyer, Attorney, Lawsuit
Here’s the Oregon Insurance Division’s guidance for Oregonians who have to file an auto insurance claim:
Filing a claim
There is so much left out of that claim procedure that it’s not possible to address all the problems with it. Just a few of the most obvious problems with it:
It’s impossible for consumers to know if they understand their insurance policy before they have a loss. Not only are the policies written to defeat the ordinary consumer, but there is the more fundamental problem that it’s impossible for any human to know what they do not know because the knowledge needed to determine that you don’t understand something is only present when you do understand it. And the people most likely to think they understand something are the ones who, in reality, have significant gaps in their understanding. In short, telling consumers to read and understand their policies before a loss is like telling them to “work smarter, not harder.” The problem with starting this list with the exhortation to the consumer to understand the policy is that it suggests that insurance coverage disputes are rooted in consumer misunderstanding, rather than insurance company deception and bad faith.
3. The adjuster will determine who caused the accident?
Given that auto collisions – where a jury determines the key issues, including which parties bear the blame, and how much of it, for the collision -- have been the source of unending litigation since the days of Henry Ford, it’s startling to see a state agency declaring that auto insurance adjusters decide this question. It is almost as if the pamphlet was written by industry insiders or people who identify so closely with the point of view of the insurance industry that they forget all about the fact that the insurance companies are not objective fact-finders or neutral observers.
4. What is “too early”? Earlier than what?
Whoever wrote this booklet, by refusing to use the words attorney, lawyer, or lawsuit, created a problem when it comes to explaining to consumers when they should accept proposed insurance company settlement offers after an accident. Any consumer reading this booklet would be reasonable in concluding that you are not allowed to call an attorney for help in dealing with the insurance company, or that you are actually never required to release an insurer from its responsibility at all. Even worse, the author subtly suggests that your insurance company is your ally when, in all probability, your insurance company is your opponent the minute the crash occurs.
5. Dr. Insurance Company practicing without a license again
Anyone who has suffered serious injuries from collision trauma knows that some of the effects can be delayed for months or even years. But in the Oregon Insurance Division, all injuries surface quickly – “several days” is the phrase used. This is grossly misleading and contributes to the problems that drivers have getting compensated for all their injuries.
6. Another appraisal. And then what?
The booklet’s author suggests that “The insurance company is responsible to pay for the reasonable cost of repairs to your vehicle.” Interesting, because it doesn’t say which insurance company that is, yours or the other drivers. The author further notes that body shops and insurers usually negotiate between themselves about what to repair. This leaves out that many insurers have “preferred” body shops that they recommend to all their policyholders. It is an exercise for the reader to work out for themselves how the relationship between these “preferred” shops and the insurance company that serves as a source of a lot of their work affects those negotiations.
Oregon desperately needs an organization with a mission of helping Oregonians become much better informed about insurance, insurance companies, and insurance costs. The Insurance Division is not doing the job, if they even think that is their job. There is not a single speck of information on the Insurance Division website that would help an Oregonian compare what they are being charged or quoted for insurance with the average costs others are paying. Without this information, Oregon insurance consumers have few tools to help them shop effectively or even to understand how to evaluate the quality of a company on anything other than price, which is just how the insurance companies prefer it.
Judging from the Oregon Insurance Division's Consumer Guide to Auto Insurance, auto insurers occupy a happy land where competitive pressures and the profit motive are completely absent, where the companies are always reasonable, and there's never any corner cutting or bad faith denials of claims.
Of course the guide does not completely ignore the issue that your experience with auto insurance might have a lot to do with the insurer itself – it does give Oregonians an extremely superficial gloss on the subject that leaves the reader with more questions than answers, such as “OK, how am I supposed to evaluate how these companies treat their insured policyholders.” On that, the Insurance Division offers nothing other than reference to a table of complaints, which is offered as bare numbers only, as part of a huge pdf (so that it can't be sorted), with no interpretive information about the complaints or any information about the basis for the complaints.
The division mainly promotes the position that the amount you pay for auto insurance is up to you because of your driving risk and the car you choose to drive – even though the division also notes that insurers are allowed to use your credit score to rate you.
The following sections from that "consumer guide" show how thoroughly the Insurance Division has adopted the point of view of the insurance companies. Insurance salesmen are called “producers” throughout, industry terminology. For example, the only reason suggested for a “misquote” is that you probably didn’t fill out the application completely or truthfully; the possibility that the insurance company was engaged in deceptive practices in the sale of the policy is never even considered.
Choosing an insurer
Oddly enough, the "Consumer Guide to Auto Insurance" does NOT contain any real information on auto insurance companies. For that, the consumer must dig deeply into the Insurance Division's website, where information about complaints about insurers is presented in aggregate form, so that it is impossible to tell anything about the individual complaints. The format also prevents the consumer from recognizing that the practice that they are suffering from is a violation. A good many consumers take abuse from businesses simply due to ignorance about a particular practice being illegal -- the consumer thinks the business would not engage in a practice that is illegal, and since the consumer is experiencing a particular kind of treatment, the consumer concludes that it must be OK.
The Insurance Division needs to take a cue from the the Oregon Attorney General's Office of Consumer Protection, where complaints about businesses are summarized by type and the individual complaint records are available to the public, and the complaint history of each particular company is available for searching.
Most important, notice that the Insurance Division does not report whether the consumers agree with the Insurance Division's determination as to whether their complaint was confirmed or not.
How to use this report
Saved by Delay: Appeals court says BETC's demise means state need not pour $8.33 million more into failed ethanol plant
On Wednesday, a three-member panel of Oregon Court of Appeals judges announced that it was overturning two judgments against the Oregon Department of Energy that the late Marion County Judge Alvin P. Norblad issued . The appeals court reversed the trial court's decisions that the Energy Department must issue $8.33 million in business energy tax credits (BETC) to the successor-owner of a bankrupt ethanol facility in Clatskanie, Oregon, that failed in 2009 and also pay that company's attorney fees amounting to almost $350,000.
Before going bankrupt, Cascade Grain managed to sell millions of its tax credits on the Port Westward plant against the $33 million project price tab. Oregon taxpayers were saved from handing over an additional $8.33 million in tax credits for the facility because, in 2012, the Legislature put an end to the BETC program and required that tax credit applications that had not been finalized an issued expired on July 1, 2014. The court decided that the tax credit question was moot and that it did not have to decide whether Judge Norblad’s judgments against Energy were correct, because the abolition of the BETC meant that Energy could not, after that date, issue the final tax credit certificates. Since Energy could no longer issue the credits no matter how the court decided the case, the court declined to wade into the arguments on the merits.
That decision then led the appeals court to reverse the attorney fee award against Energy, which was for just under $350,000, even before the costs of the appeal were included. Thus, the court gave Energy, which has been the subject of intense criticism that is still building, a Christmas present worth millions. However, OregonPEN estimates the chances of an appeal as 99 to 100%. If the Supreme Court chooses to hear the appeal, though, the Energy Department itself may have been abolished like the BETC that caused Oregon so much budgetary distress.
About the ethanol plant, its builder, JH Kelly, parent company of the failed “Cascade Grain” operation, described it one of the 10 largest ethanol plants in the United States.
JH Kelly constructed this dry mill ethanol plant, the largest on the West Coast and one of the ten largest in the US. The plant has a capacity of 108 million gallons per year (gpy) of undenatured ethanol with a design basis of operating 24 hours per day for 350 days per year.
One of the great tricks that writers in corporations learn when they have to deliver bad news is to do what newspaper editors used to call "burying the lede" -- taking the most important part of a story and carefully moving it away from the headline, first, or last paragraph. The Oregon Global Warming Commission 2015 Biennial Report to the Legislature is a classic example.
The report could have been titled "Carbon Tax, Starting Now, is Our Only Hope," because that's what the report actually conceals in the middle, where that sobering conclusion is likely to disturb the sleep of the fewest possible number of readers, since few who are not already aware of that fact are very likely to read past the executive summary.
Note that the report writers again cannot bring themselves to use the words "bad news," even in the most honest two paragraphs of the entire report, preferring instead the weaselly "less positive news" when reporting that Oregon will fail to cut greenhouse pollution by 2020 and will fail even more by 2050.
Now for the less positive news: despite an overall lower forecast than previously reported thanks to the implementation of Oregon’s RPS and other policies, that forecast is not expected to come within striking distance of our 2020 and 2050 emission reduction goals. Rather, with 5 years left to go we appear to be on track to miss our 2020 goal by just over 11 million MTCO2e. That gap widens to 32 million MTCO2e in 2035 on a linear path to our 2050 goal.
The solution to all this fail? Redefine the goals so that they don't seem so hard:
In December 2004, Oregon’s Advisory Group on Global Warming submitted its recommendations to Governor Kulongoski. The emissions reduction goals it proposed, subsequently adopted by the 2007 Oregon Legislature, included: a near-term (2010) goal of arresting emissions creep upwards; and a 2050 end goal for achieving a sustainable emissions level, estimated at the time by climate scientists to be at least 75% below 1990 levels.
The most important part of the entire report is buried inside, and it's the part that models the effect of a carbon tax on greenhouse pollution emissions. Although written in stupefyingly bureaucratic language, it's another part worth reading in full:
In order to estimate and illustrate the possible emissions effect of implementing a carbon price in addition to the programmatic measures described above, we sought the expertise of Portland State University’s Northwest Economic Research Center (NERC). NERC and PSU researchers completed a legislatively-mandated study of the effects of an Oregon carbon fee at the end of 2014 and presented their findings to the legislature49. The Commission requested the assistance of these researchers in estimating the interaction between the emission reduction measures and a carbon price, understanding that the relationship between the two would not simply be additive. In the sections below, we briefly describe the process of evaluating the interaction and the resulting emission reductions we could possibly expect to see in this case.
The fragment of text at the end of footnote 51, "low energy costs" is a classic breadcrumb in a bureaucratic maze -- evidence of editing by management as the report moves up the chain and gets progressively rewritten to obscure and weaken its conclusions and to wrap them in a thick gauze of happyspeak. A sentence beginning "Low energy costs" might well have continued "are directly proportional to increased emissions," a very unhappy conclusion for policymakers heading into an election year.
Oregon Global Warming Commission's Orwellian 2015 Report (translated): Failing faster, but slower than our prior guesses!
In this 2015 Biennial Report we describe two more years’ worth of data from Oregon’s emitting facilities and energy suppliers and confirm our previous finding that Oregon clearly met its 2010 GHG reduction goal – to arrest the growth of emissions and begin reducing them. We note that Oregon’s GHG emissions are now nearly back to 1990 levels at 61 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (or million MTCO2e). In addition, the combination of recently-enacted policies, including the Clean Fuels Program for vehicle fuels, expected utility Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) performance, and PGE’s commitment to end coal combustion at the Boardman power plant, contribute to a GHG forecast that both begins at a lower level and holds projected future increases to a slower rate than previously predicted.
That's the first paragraph of the Executive Summary of the Oregon Global Warming Commission 2015 Biennial Report to the Legislature--the only paragraph most people will ever read or see quoted, and a real masterpiece of Orwellian doublespeak. The very next paragraph -- which avoids the word BAD in favor of the exquisitely deceptive "less good news" begins thus:
The less good news is that despite these successes, we project Oregon’s 2020 emissions to be 11 million MTCO2e above the target level set by the Legislature for that year, with the gap between emissions and our goals widening each year to 2050 and beyond unless additional action is taken to contain and drive down emissions.
To mark the conclusion of the global climate talks in Paris, this issue of OregonPEN will focus on the frighteningly inadequate response to climate disruption by Oregon's government, as summarized by the Commission's own report.
2015 looks to be another drought year – fourth in a row, and including 11 of the last 15 years of below normal water, if you’re counting – for the western states. While California’s plight gets most of the headlines10, southern and eastern Oregon are suffering along with states of the American Southwest. The snowpack in the Oregon Cascades is ~75% below its long-term average, the result of average rainfall but winter and spring air
Business management consultants and woo-woo personal development gurus alike love to repeat the cliché about planning that says "Failure to plan is planning to fail."
Oregon's response to catastrophic global climate disruption caused by human emissions of heat trapping gases into the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution turns that cliché around, proving that it's quite possible to do both, to plan but to plan to fail.
The chart below, from the Oregon Global Warming Commission's 2015 Biennial Report to the Legislature -- is mercifully cut off at 2035. Perhaps because it was too painful to show the ever-widening gap between the goals (the straight declining line) and the emissions projections from there until 2050. This chart clearly shows that it's clearly possible for a Commission sufficiently cowed by the implications of the data to positively plan and plan to fail.
The Commission's timidity is not surprising because reducing greenhouse pollution in the United States requires dramatic changes in behavior. The report illustrates that "inconvenient truth" with a graph that documents the one successful pollution reduction strategy actually employed in Oregon so far: sending industrial jobs away from Oregon.
Data from Table 1 below
Those data show the sad truth that the only effective policy that has actually produced any greenhouse pollution reductions has been a brutal recession and closure of industrial plants in Oregon. Take transportation, which the report identifies as the most important source of greenhouse pollution in Oregon -- even as vehicle miles traveled have continued to decline from their 2006 peak, greenhouse pollution emissions have turned back upward.
The next chart really shows the source of Oregon's "progress" in reducing the rate of increase in greenhouse pollution emissions: de-industrialization and loss of jobs.
What's behind that dramatic decline? Mostly it shows the complete wipeout of the Northwest's aluminum industry. Aluminum is sometimes known as "congealed electricity," so energy-intensive is its production. The complete elimination of one industrial sector helps mask the "less good news" of increasing pollution emissions from cement, landfills, and industrial gases and solvents (which are split out separately from semi-conductor making, which has also caused increase greenhouse pollution emissions in the 22 years studied):
The concern for taking any comfort from the greenhouse pollution emissions Oregon has managed is that they do not reflect any global improvement in greenhouse pollution levels -- globally, emissions continue to climb, faster and faster each year. The aluminum no longer being produced in the Northwest is now being produced elsewhere, using coal-generated electricity.