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Oregon governor ready to take lead on divisive climate plan

ROSEBURG, OR - OCTOBER 02: Oregon governor Kate Brown (C) arrives for a press conference where she addressed the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College on October 2, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Yesterday 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer went on a shooting rampage at the campus, killing 9 people and wounding another seven before he was killed. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Monday that she’s ready to use her executive power to lower carbon emissions following a political crisis in which Republican state senators fled the state for more than a week to thwart climate legislation.

The Democratic governor said she wants to move forward on a statewide cap and trade plan through the executive branch if lawmakers can’t find a compromise. The proposal caps climate-changing emissions and requires businesses to buy or trade an ever-dwindling pool of pollution credits or “allowances.”

The idea divided the Statehouse and revealed lingering tensions between liberal cities like Portland that want to combat climate change and rural areas of the state where the legislation was seen as a further threat to industries like farming, logging and trucking.

Brown says she wants lawmakers to go back to rural communities and find points of compromise for future legislation that would create the nation’s second statewide cap and trade program, after California.

Senate Republicans walked out for nine days to delay a vote on the measure and only returned after receiving reassurances it was dead. They said the legislation would kill jobs, raise the cost of fuel and gut small businesses in rural areas.

Democrats say the legislation is critical to make Oregon a leader in the fight against climate change and will ultimately create jobs and transform the economy.

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