The House Committee on Environment and Energy held a hearing on March 5, 2019, on ESSB 5116, the Clean Energy bill (see separate post for Senate hearing and action). Although the House has already considered a companion bill, HB 1211, the Senate version is the one likely to pass because it has already passed the Senate with amendments that will make it acceptable to more representatives. These include cost caps that would prevent utilities from invoking penalties, and some allowance for gas as a transition fuel. You can take action on this bill by clicking on ESSB 5116, and then 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 support the bill.”
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.