The executive director of a US pulp and paper trade body has said that a carbon cap-and-trade bill under debate in the state of Oregon is unnecessary and will drive manufacturers from the state.  

In an article in local paper the Register-Guard, Chris McCabe of the Northwest Pulp and Paper Association said his industry is already on track to meet its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 15% by 2020 through the use of waste biomass in on-site power and combined heat and power (CHP) systems, which currently meet 93% of pulp and paper mills’ demand for power and process heat.  

He cited a study by the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement which found that, in the US as a whole, the emissions reduction already achieved by the pulp and paper industry through such measures is equivalent to taking 35 million cars off the road.

In his state, McCabe said the Oregon Global Warming Commission’s Technical Energy Committee had identified CHP systems as an investment priority for reducing emissions, passing legislation to expand their use.

However, despite this progress, he said the cap-and-trade system under consideration ‘will likely cause mills to close or significantly reduce their workforces’, and will ‘turn Oregon into a state that manufacturers will avoid’.

The proposed Healthy Climate Act would establish a carbon market in order to cut the state’s carbon emissions to 75% below 1990 levels by 2050.

In a study commissioned by the state government, Portland State University found that power prices would need to increase by as much as 30% in order to achieve the proposed bill’s goals. Carbon allowances would need to be priced at $60 per metric tonne, which newspaper the Oregon Business Review said would result in ‘higher energy costs, a depressed economy and no meaningful contribution’ to reducing global carbon emissions.