15th District legislators oppose ‘cap and trade light’ legislation

The House of Representatives early Wednesday passed Senate Bill 5735, a controversial climate change measure that opponents say would lead to a future cap-and-trade system to ration carbon emissions in Washington.

Reps. Bruce Chandler and David Taylor voted against the measure, saying it would focus on regulation and rationing, instead of innovation and adaptation, to address environmental issues.

The bill would move the state in the direction of creating a regional cap-and-trade system, which would require businesses and energy companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under a cap and trade system, penalties and costs would be assessed against companies which do not reduce emissions by a set standard.

The 15th District lawmakers warned that while some of the most expensive and potentially damaging aspects of the original bill had been taken out, the measure would put the state on the path toward a cap-and-trade program.

Specific provisions of the bill include:

Giving DOE specific authority to continue involvement in the Western Climate Initiative;

Requiring DOE to develop its best estimate of emissions levels in 2012 for entities that emit 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent or greater each year, and the trajectory of emissions reductions necessary in order to meet the 2020 emission reduction requirements;

Requiring coal-fired powered plants in this state to meet performance standards by December 31, 2025;

Requiring DOE to issue reports on forestry and agriculture offsets in December, 2010;

Allowing the governor to appoint a point person for all climate change and energy initiatives.

“Simply the possibility of having a cap and trade system in Washington can drive businesses away,” said Chandler, R-Granger. “Rather than chasing a trendy issue, our state needs to focus on how we can create jobs, innovate with technology, and increase our economic productivity. We have a broad-based economy, which creates opportunities at every level for the citizens of this state, and we need to encourage those opportunities.”

Taylor, R-Moxee, cautioned that in the face of a state unemployment rate that has reached 9.4 percent, SB 5735 sends a message that Washington is not a good place to do business, further threatening the potential for economic development and job growth.

“During my time in local government, our motto was ‘facilitate, not regulate,’ and that should be our approach with this legislation,” said Taylor, who formerly served as a director in the Kittitas County planning and development services departments. “But instead, this bill just sets the stage to add more regulation on our already overly regulated employers.

“The last thing we should be doing is passing legislation that hurts business owners, discourages companies from growing or locating here, and threatens good family-wage jobs. This bill is bad for business, bad for the economy, and bad for the citizens of Washington state,” he said.

Chandler and Taylor believe Washington’s unique strengths — cheap, abundant, renewable hydro power and an economy dependent on exports — would be harmed by a regional cap-and-trade system.

“It’s ironic this debate is occurring in the state that produces the most hydro power in the country, and that’s because we won’t recognize hydro power as a renewable resource,” Taylor said.

“This could hurt the few advantages Washington has for employers in this state,” Chandler said. “If we pass policies that increase the cost of electricity for families, we’re leaving working families poorer.”

“There is no compelling or persuasive reason to pass environmental policy that would hike energy costs, punish business owners with more regulatory burdens, and threaten the finances of low- and middle-income working families who are struggling to survive,” added Taylor.

An amendment to ensure that greenhouse gas reduction strategies do not conflict with strategies to increase water storage, improve flood control mechanisms, reduce forest fires and reduce bark beetle infestations was supported by the 15th District lawmakers. These strategies come from a report from the University of Washington describing how the state should address climate change.

“We already have some of the cleanest power and most aggressive conservation policies in the nation,” Taylor noted. “In fact, our state contributes only three-tenths of one percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. That’s hardly a planetary menace.”

The bill passed the House 59-37. It now goes back to the Senate for consideration of House amendments.

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For more information, contact: Bill Taylor, Senior Information Officer: (360) 786-7074


Washington State House Republican Communications