As climate legislation moves through the legislature, a number of bills have been introduced that would undermine climate action by the state. They appear to promote energy policies but may have the effect of delaying or weakening climate action. Hearings on these bills were held in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy & Technology on February 6, 2019. Details of the hearing are below. You can take action on these bills by clicking on the link in each paragraph below, and click on “Comment on this Bill.” The comment link will take you to a page that requests your address and email information, a button where you can indicate support, oppose or neutral. You need to make a comment but it can be short – “please oppose the bill.”
SB 5629 provides incentives for using “small modular reactors” (SMR) to reduce greenhouse gases. Sponsor Senator Sharon Brown promoted it for providing energy in small rural grids and noted that it can also provide clean drinking water. Oregon and Idaho have already approved and may take market from WA. Representatives of the Rural Electrical Association, the Association of Washington Business and Eastern Washington PUDs (Public Utility Districts) supported it. They promoted the financial and other benefits of building and using SMRs in Washington. Representatives of the League of Women Voters, Sierra Club and Concerned Citizens opposed it. They cited costs and nuclear waste as problems. They noted that SMRs are not really “clean energy” that would reduce carbon emissions if the full life cycle of emissions is measured.
SB 5347 is titled “Concerning claims about climate change made by electric utilities.” It was introduced by its sponsor, Sen. Doug Ericksen, who usually opposes climate change actions. It is intended to restrict electric utilities from advertising or offering terms mentioning climate change as a benefit. He called it “greenwashing,” that would promote switching utilities on the basis of false advertising. He cited the statement that “if Washington does nothing, nothing will happen.” (He may be referring to the low level of Washington emissions, 0.3 percent of global emissions.)
SB 5555,titled “Ensuring that components of solar energy systems are produced in the United States or according to Washington state environmental standards,” would restrict installation of solar panels to those produced in the U.S. Sponsor Senator Doug Ericksen alluded to the lower cost of labor and environmental regulations in countries such as China and Mexico in promoting the bill.We claim they are green when they are actually made with dirty production methods. A representative of the solar industry opposed the bill as a detriment to the manufacture of panels in the U.S. because components come from outside the U.S.