Oregon Must Stop Outsourcing Policymaking to California’s Unelected Bureaucrats

By Eric Fruits, Ph.D.

At the end of last year, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission adopted rules banning the sale of internal combustion cars by the year 2035. It’s not a stretch to say these rules will affect every single Oregon household and Oregon business.

Many Oregonians outraged by the ban have asked, “How can they do that?”

How they imposed the ban is even more outrageous than the ban itself.

Nearly 20 years ago, the Commission approved rules that tied Oregon’s low-emission vehicle rules to California’s rules. Put simply, whatever California does, Oregon has to do it also. Under some quirky federal rules, if a state wants to follow California’s lead, it has to enact the exact same rules as California.

Last summer, California banned the sale of internal combustion vehicles and in December, Oregon followed suit.

Here’s where things get really crazy. Neither the EQC nor California’s regulators are elected. In Oregon, they’re all appointed by the governor; and in California, a supermajority is appointed by the governor.

Put simply, Oregon’s rules are determined by an unelected board in another state.

But there’s hope. This year, the legislature will be considering House Bill 3022. If passed, this bill would require that any rules related to motor vehicle fuels or emissions must first be approved by the legislature.

It’s time to bring policymaking back to the legislature, and HB 3022 is a good first step.

Eric Fruits, Ph.D. is Vice President of Research at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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