The Senate and House have passed ESSB 5116, the Clean Energy bill. It is now headed for signature by the governor. It would set deadlines for reduction of fossil fuel use in electric generation: phasing out coal by 2025, making generation carbon neutral by 2030 and use of renewable energy only by 2045. The governor is planning a signing ceremony sometime during the next week.
In the House hearing a number of environmental groups including the Sierra Club, Climate Solutions, Front and Centered, Environment Washington and the Washington Environment Council supported the bill with some reservations about the gas transition provision. The Building and Construction Trades Council supported the bill because it has “just transition” provision for union workers transitioning from fossil fuel jobs to renewable energy jobs. Most utility representatives supported the bill because it includes provisions for protecting their investments. Business groups, including the Association for Washington Business opposed the bill because of costs imposed on utilities and customers, and said it is in effect a carbon tax, which has been rejected by the voters in 2018.
One interesting exchange involved Representative Susan Dye (R-Pomeroy), who questioned the “existential threat” language in the “intent” section that would commit Washington state to action on a global problem. A representative of the League of Women Voters responded and said that climate change is a indeed a threat to Washington as well as the world, and we need to take action along with all other jurisdictions.