The project we have chosen to pursue with our partner organization, the Oregon Farm Bureau (OFB), examines the topic of cap and trade and the differences in opinion among the OFB and Oregon lawmakers. Cap and trade aims to limit the emission of pollutants into the air, while also giving companies incentive to limit these emissions through charging them if they emit an excessive amount of pollution into the atmosphere. This provides a regulatory structure for Oregon farmers, which is further examined in our partnership record detailing the organization. Ultimately, the Oregon state government generally stands in favor of cap and trade, as they believe it will better the environment. However, farms across Oregon, including members of the Oregon Farm Bureau, are concerned about how it will negatively affect their business as the prices of fuel and natural gas would significantly increase, while they feel they already take steps to limit their emissions.
There are a variety of opinions within the farming community, as some farmers are in favor of the policy while others are opposed to it. This division between farmers and the government, as well as within the two realms, makes for a relevant and strong engagement project. Within this engagement project, we will initiate direct conversation between Oregon farmers and Oregon legislators with the goal of discussing how the cap and trade policy could benefit both parties. The conversation aspect of the project relates to the “How” of environmental engagement, as this covers the ways in which we can effectively communicate on these types of issues. This could mean that future cap and trade in Oregon will still provide a regulatory rule, but keep the finances of the farms in mind. Seeing that both sides have the interest of the environment in mind, this could provide a basis for the middle ground that is sought out of the engagement work. We believe that it is important to keep commonalities in mind, while also being understanding of the perspectives of both sides. This thought is further examined in an article by Proctor (2019), who wrote that environmental difference “arises from our differentiated interactions with environmental reality, leading to diverse forms of expertise and diverse truth claims.”
There does not necessarily need to be a development of one truth, as a concrete decision does not need to be made. Ultimately, this provides reason for the examination of the other side’s perspective, as this leads to greater understanding and a lessening of personal bias (Broockman and Kalla, 2016). Rather than the presentation of information, which reflects ideologies, an alternative is to find the outcomes of the process that each side finds important (Bain et al, 2016). This is all in order to help each side feel listened to, as the farms want to be represented in state policies while the government wants to trust that the farms will protect the environment. Through listening to each side share their thoughts, the endpoint of compromise and a positive outlook for future collaboration together.
- Bain, Paul G., Matthew J. Hornsey, Renata Bongiorno, and Carla Jeffries. 2012. “Promoting pro-environmental action in climate change deniers.” Nature Climate Change 2 (8): 600–603. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1532.
- Broockman, David, and Joshua Kalla. 2016. “Durably reducing transphobia: A field experiment on door-to-door canvassing.” Science 352 (6282): 220–24. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aad9713.
- Proctor, James D. 2019. “When Our Ideas Differ: Three Options.” EcoTypes: Exploring Environmental Ideas (blog). June 23, 2019. https://jimproctor.us/ecotypes/about-ecotypes/when-our-ideas-differ-three-options/.