Our Sponsors:

Read more »

Our Members

Many thanks to Robert Pillitteri and Marilyn Ige some of our many supporters.

ALL MEMBERS »

Inslee pushes for look at climate options

The governor goes to the Legislature to push personally for a broad look at how to battle global warming.
Gov. Jay Inslee

Gov. Jay Inslee Photo: John Stang

Gov. Jay Inslee is personally pushing for a task force to find out if there are cost-effectve ways for Washington to reduce its carbon emissions.

The new governor spoke Wednesday to the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, which is considering a bill by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, to set up such a group.

So far, the bill, SB 5802, appears to have enough reception from across the aisle to give it a chance to pass the Republican-oriented Senate — a tougher hurdle than the Democrat-controlled House.

"We want an open discussion with no preordained ideas," said Sen.Rodney Tom, D-Medina, leader of the 23-Republican-two-Democrat alliance that controls the Senate.

Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island and a co-sponsor of the bill, said: "People are all over (on carbon emissions) the map. This is an effort to get everyone at the table."

Republican Caucus Leader Mark Schoelser, R-Ritzville, declined to comment on the proposal. House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt said the House Republicans will be involved setting up such a task force force, but he contended that forest fires caused more carbon emissions than a coal plant. DeBolt works for TransAlta, which owns a coal power plant in Centralia, and he is on the board for the Association of Washington Businesses, which opposes Ranker's bill. 

Inslee claimed carbon emissions will likely cost Washington's economy $10 billion by 2020 because of health costs, smaller snowpacks feeding irrigated croplands, greenhouse gases turning the ocean more acidic to kill shellfish larvae, heat increasing the risk of forest fires and rising sea levels pushing more salt water into coastline water treatment plants. "These are the costs of not doing anything," Inslee said.

He added, "This is pollution with a capital 'P.' ... If Republicans and Democrats can work together, we can skin this cat." 

Bill Dewey, representing Taylor Shellfish, spoke about oyster larvae being destroyed by the sea water's increased acidity. "In my lifetime, the (ocean acidification) problem will only get worse. We need this bill for future generations," Dewey said. 

In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency put the sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States at 34 percent from the production of electricity, 27 percent from transportation, industrial processes at 21 percent, commercial and residential causes  at 11 percent, and land use and forests at 15 percent, according to the Ranker bill.

Washington's Legislature set a goal in 2008 of reducing the state's greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and trimming them to 25 percent below the 1990 level by 2035. So far, no follow-up has happened on that legislation. 

Ranker's bill would set up a work group that would include bipartisan representation from the House and Senate to examine how other states and nations handle carbon emissions, and to determine how Washington can deal with the matter cost-effectively. The work group would have until Dec. 13 to come up with its recommendations.

"It allows us to judge what kind of trade-offs are being made," said Todd Myers, representing the business-orietned Washington Policy Center  at Wednesday's public hearing.

But Brandon Houskeeper of the Association of Washington Businesses, argued that the state's carbon emissions are already low. "Climate change is a global issue that requires global solutions," Houskeeper said.

Inslee contended that Washington should lead the way in showing the world how to combat climate change, carbon emissions and ocean acidification. "It's because we are leaders. That's who we are," Inslee said.

The governor added: "It's an enormous economic loss if we do not do this because others are not waiting. ... We cannot afford to let our competitors to get the jump on us."

Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch and a member of the 25-person majority in the Senate, asked that the proposed task force look at an energy park being pushed on southern Hanford land next to Richland, including plans for solar power and the manufacture of small modular reactors. A small modular reactor is a pre-fabricated reactor capable of producing 200 to 300 megawatts; the Columbia Generating Station, Washington's only commercial nuclear reactor, can produce 1,150 megawatts. The feds are funding research into this concept elsewhere in the nation. Tri-Cities interests want to manufacture small modular reactor components after the research is done.


Like what you just read? Support high quality local journalism. Become a member of Crosscut today!

Comments:

Posted Thu, Feb 21, 6:14 p.m. Inappropriate

Nothing that the State of Washington could do would have any impact whatsoever on global carbon emissions. Inslee is a silly little twit to believe otherwise. What a waste of time and energy.

The U.S. is doing many things that are having an impact on global warming, particularly with the new CAFE standards for motor vehicles which will make motor vehicles in the entire country far more energy-efficient over the coming decades. Plus, the U.S. is switching many plants from coal to natural gas to produce electricity, which again, is reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

The things that have any impact at all are being done on the national level. Attempting to reduce global carbon emissions with policies at the state or local level is tilting at windmills (pun intended).

Lincoln

Posted Fri, Feb 22, 10:32 a.m. Inappropriate

Actually, there is one major energy producing option the State of Washington could push - nuclear. Alas, that is the "N" word of many states and countries (except for France). "Pity this busy monster man unkind." (If I may quote a well known poet.)

seebee

Posted Fri, Feb 22, 1:22 p.m. Inappropriate

WA state has only one major coal-fired electricity-producing plant, and it is already scheduled to be phased-out. Even that one coal plant puts out an insignificant amount of greenhouse gas emissions, in the world-wide scheme of things. WA state gets the majority of its electricity from hydro power, so WA state is already about as "green" as it gets in power production.

Lincoln

Posted Fri, Feb 22, 7:40 p.m. Inappropriate

If your name-sake had your defeatist attitude, maybe we'd still have slavery. We need to burn less carbon.

louploup

Posted Fri, Feb 22, 11:10 a.m. Inappropriate

What about eliminating the sell of carbon credits? Makes no sense to give a bank carbon credits to eliminate postage of bank statements, only to be able to sell those credits to another polluting industry.

Bank saves money with no postage and profits off the sale of carbon credits, and the consumer still gets stuck with higher fees and sustainable pollution.

Somethings wrong with this picture.

salmonjim

Posted Fri, Feb 22, 12:39 p.m. Inappropriate

The biggest problem with human cause of warming is the attitude that it is defeatist to focus on adapting to a human caused problem. The governor's own list, and more, needs practical attention not parading as justification for more study of economic incentives by commission:

"...smaller snowpacks feeding irrigated croplands, greenhouse gases turning the ocean more acidic to kill shellfish larvae, heat increasing the risk of forest fires and rising sea levels pushing more salt water into coastline water treatment plants..."

afreeman

Login or register to add your voice to the conversation.

Join Crosscut now!
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Follow Us »