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Oregon Lawmakers Give Public First Look At Transportation Package

Mike Mozart

Oregon drivers could pay an additional four cents per gallon in state taxes. That's part of a massive transportation package unveiled Wednesday by Oregon lawmakers.

The bill contains a long list of highway construction projects that would be funded through a hike in the gas tax and vehicle registration fees.

But environmental groups aren't happy with another component of the bill. Section 39 of the 73 page measure repeals the Clean Fuels program as it was amended by Senate Bill 324 earlier this session.

Environmental groups touted that program as a major win when Governor Kate Brown signed it into law in March. It requires fuel distributors to lower the carbon footprint of what they sell in Oregon.

GOP lawmakers said it would result in higher gas prices. They’ve agreed to support a gas tax hike if the Clean Fuels program is yanked. Supporters of the new plan say it contains alternate carbon reduction strategies.

It's not clear yet whether there's enough Democratic support for the measure to advance.

Copyright 2015 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.