From this weekend’s Oregonian:

“Gov. Ted Kulongoski and his fellow Democrats in the Legislature continue to cling to a campaign that seems increasingly stuck in the past. They’re still pushing to have Oregon join California and five other Western states in a regional cap-and-trade emissions market…Today, though, the plan seems painfully eight-track. President Barack Obama talks earnestly about his support for a nationwide cap-and-trade law, and the idea has traction in the Democratic-controlled Congress. A bill appears inevitable…There’s no longer a compelling reason for Oregon to gamble on a regional cap-and-trade plan.”

Now there are many, many reasons why the Oregonian has got this just plain backwards. We don’t have time to dig into all of them here, but I wanted to point out a few:

  • Shape federal program to favor the Northwest: A regional cap-and-trade program will set a policy precedent for a national program, favoring the Northwest’s clean power mix and the reductions we’ve already made.
  • First in line for federal investment: The energy economy is President Obama’s number one priority. Pioneering that economy now positions forerunners to receive federal stimulus investment.
  • Innovate and save: States that fail to increase efficiency and develop clean energy sources will have to buy technology—from states like California—that have taken early action.

In short, acting early by initiating cap and trade positions us to influence, and benefit from, federal action. We’ll have a head start on developing new technologies, expanding green jobs, and transitioning to a clean energy economy, while other states are forced to catch up.