Governor candidates differ on Oregon's green streak

For eight years, Oregon’s economic and policy discussions have largely focused on energy and the environment. As the emphasis on attracting green companies increased, the term "sustainability" graduated from a nebulous word into a widely adopted bedrock business philosophy.

Yet with fewer than two weeks before the Nov. 2 election, Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley and Democratic challenger John Kitzhaber have focused more on job creation and education reform than environmental proposals.

Both say following a green path could attract more residents and create cutting-edge jobs, but each is wary of relying on sustainability as a primary economic driver.

"We have to be careful about favoring one industry over another," Dudley said. "Any incentives we offer (to green-sector companies) need to benefit the state as well as the company."

While Kitzhaber is more receptive to the sustainability movement, he sympathizes with the state's oldest-line industry.

"We need to become a leader in clean energy production and market our technology to the world, but we shouldn’t do that at the expense of making our wood products sector into a 'sunset' industry, not a 'sunrise' industry," he said. "We need a balanced strategy."

ENERGY

The candidates agree that nurturing the state's biomass energy producers could bring huge benefits. The term "biomass" refers to burning the state’s abundant forest waste in order to generate electricity.

Dudley said more active management of state forests would mean more sales of forest waste for biomass, thereby increasing state revenue and potentially generating more money for Oregon’s Common School Fund.

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