Energy and Environmental Bills in the Washington Legislature

Gray wolf. Photo by uhuru1701, some rights reserved.

Today, we’ll look at energy and environmental bills being considered closer to home, in the Washington State Legislature. Energy and climate bills are center stage, but wildlife and land use bills are also on the agenda.

SB 5802 would authorize the Governor to contract with an independent organization to evaluate greenhouse gas reduction strategies and declare an emergency related to greenhouse gases. Its companion bill in the House went to executive session in the House Committee on Environment on Wednesday. Business advocates, however, are concerned that unilateral action in Washington will put state businesses at a competitive disadvantage nationally, and Republicans have proposed a substitute bill that removes “absolute” language on climate change and ocean acidification.

Among this session’s more high-profile bills is SB 5547, does not address climate change directly but rather confronts the ocean’s rising acidity. It would create a Marine Resources Protection Council in the Governor’s Office to consider how to tackle increased acidity and its effect on reef development and marine life. The Washington Farm Bureau, for its part, has pointed to lack of definitive evidence relating local industrial activities to rising acidity, and the bill did not move out of committee.

Another set of bills address energy use. SB 5297, SB 5298, HB 1221, and HB 1222 would allow utilities to purchase coal transition power while still meeting the reduced cost cap for renewable energy investments, and to lower the obligations under I-937 that state utilities gradually increase the amount of new renewable resources in their electricity supply. HB 1301 promotes renewable energy by adjusting incentives. It modifies a tax credit to encourage energy consumers to meet on-site electricity demands by installing renewable energy systems, and would establish a fund to encourage clean energy manufacturing in the state.

On the other side of the mountains, Eastern Washington legislators are apparently very concerned about gray wolves. A total of ten senate and house bills have been proposed that for the most part would expand the ability of ranchers and counties to lawfully kill wolves that have killed livestock. Most of these bills are not making progress, though.

Finally, SB 5295, designed to reduce the burden of permit applications mandated by the Shoreline Management Act, is stalled in committee.

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