(Reuters) - Oregon’s Democratic governor dispatched the state police on Thursday to bring back to the legislature Senate Republicans who left the Capitol in order to scuttle a vote on climate change legislation.
Democrats are unable to vote on the legislation because state Senate rules require a quorum of at least 20 members to be present for action to be taken on bills.
Governor Kate Brown said in a statement she had acted in response from a request from Senate Democrats for state police to bring their colleagues back.
Brown later appeared at a news conference in the state capital of Salem, with young people standing behind her.
“Future generations will judge us not on the fact of global climate change, but what we’ve done to tackle it, and literally these young people’s futures and their children’s futures hang in the balance,” Brown said.
The Republicans’ departure from the Capitol and the involvement of state police is an indication of the acrimony that has infected negotiations over the state’s climate change bill.
Oregon State Police in a statement said it was committed to executing the governor’s directive.
“While we obviously have many tools at our disposal, patience and communication is and always will be our first, and preferred, option,” the statement said.
The bill would require Oregon to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions below 45 percent of 1990 levels by 2035, according to the text of the legislation.
The approach, which is called cap and trade, would cap the state’s total amount of greenhouse gases and force companies, such as utilities, to buy emission allowances.
Republicans contend the legislation would make fossil fuel prices too high. They have sought to allow the proposal to be placed before voters on a ballot.
“Protesting cap and trade by walking out today represents our constituency and exactly how we should be doing our job,” Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger said in a statement.
Oregon state Senator Brian Boquist, a Republican, told Portland television station KGW on Wednesday that if state police come for him, they should “send bachelors and come heavily armed.”
Boquist did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Thursday.
As Oregon lawmakers squabbled over the bill, the New York legislature early on Thursday approved its own legislation that seeks to slow climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant, Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman