Dutch Bros. Coffee Pulls Its Support for Oregon Carbon Cap

The company called its alliance with the climate group a “mistake” and says moving forward it “will be more intentional in our partnerships.”

(Will Corwin)

Nobody ever called coffee "liquid courage."

Dutch Bros., the Grants Pass-based coffee chain ubiquitous across Oregon, announced on Friday that it's pulling out of an advocacy group backing a carbon cap-and-trade bill dividing the state.

Dutch Bros.' decision to leave Oregon Business for Climate comes as Oregon's Republican Senators have left the state in order to prevent a quorum on the landmark climate action bill, House Bill 2020. The bill has become a flashpoint for business and rural backlash to the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

A spokesperson for Dutch Bros. says the company, known for its peppy baristas and energy-drink infused beverages, never intended to take a political position.

"Our intention in joining Oregon Business for Climate was to collaborate with businesses to find solutions to environmental issues," the company tells WW. "We never intended for our name to be used in support of this, or any, bill."

The company's statement, released Friday, says it is a "company dedicated to being neutral on all issues related to politics and religion, with the desire to do nothing more than serve our customers and communities."

Oregon Business for Climate is a lobbying group made up of about 100 Oregon businesses, including Nike and the Portland Trail Blazers. Its aims are unambiguous: Its mission statement says OBC is "mobilizing industry support and business leadership to advance climate policy and institute a price on carbon emissions."

Oregon Business for Climate tells WW that it would let Dutch Bros' statement speak for itself, but said its member companies has been targets of a conservative attack campaign.

"An organized misinformation campaign has fomented a great deal of fear, anger, and misunderstanding about how this legislation will work," says Devon Downeysmith, a spokeswoman for OBC. "Our members have been the target of unwarranted, vulgar harassment. The nature of the messages and communications make it clear those participating in this orchestrated action are angry and scared because they've been deeply misled about the policy."

The climate group did not elaborate on the nature of the harassment its members had received leading up to the bill's passage.

Related: Oregon Senate cancels Saturday session amid reports of militia groups protesting at the capitol.

Grants Pass, the hometown of Dutch Bros., is a town in Southern Oregon's conservative timber country, where the carbon cap bill is widely unpopular. Social media reports suggest local residents had begun calling for a boycott of the coffee company.

Dutch Bros. isn't the only local company who has pulled their support. After the bill was passed on Monday, the co-owner of Astoria-based Fort George Brewery removed his company from the group after several restaurants boycotted the sale of his beverages.

The Oregon House of Representatives approved House Bill 2020 on Monday. The bill would place a cap on greenhouse gas emissions for the state's biggest polluters and require businesses emitting over 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases to buy allowances for each additional ton of emissions. If the bill passes the Oregon Senate, the forecasted revenue garnered from the sale of allowances would be roughly $500 million in the first fiscal year.

Since then, Republican senators have gone AWOL, one of them threatened to shoot and kill any state trooper sent to retrieve him, and the Senate cancelled a Saturday work session after a "credible threat" that right-wing militia members would protest at the Capitol. Gov. Kate Brown sent Oregon State Police to fetch the missing senators, but they appear to be in Idaho.

"We hope things return to normal in Salem soon," Downeysmith tells WW, "and we can all finish the work we started."

Dutch Bros. won't be finishing it. Its spokesperson tells WW the company had "made a mistake being part of an organization that has a political agenda," and that it strives to be a "neutral space where anyone can get a great drink and feel valued."

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