The Democratic-led Senate has passed two key pieces of Gov. Jay Inslee’s climate agenda, a plan to put a price on carbon pollution and a measure that would require fuel producers and importers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with gasoline and other transportation fuels.
The Seattle Times reports the carbon pricing bill passed on on a 25-24 vote and the low-carbon fuels standard on a 27-20 vote Thursday night, after several hours of debate. The carbon pricing bill now heads to the House for consideration. The fuel standard bill — which cleared the House in February — heads back to that chamber for a final vote on changes made by the Senate.
Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, who sponsored SB 5126 at Inslee’s request after putting forth a similar proposal of his own last session, called it a way to “grow our economy with a lighter footprint in terms of carbon emissions.”
It would establish a “cap and invest” program that sets steadily lower limits to pollution from carbon and other greenhouse gases, and requires polluters to steadily decrease their emissions, or purchase pollution allowances.
The bill would require the state to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. It would make Washington the second state — after California — to have a comprehensive carbon pricing law that would stretch across much of the economy.
Under the version of the proposal approved Thursday, revenue raised would go to an investment account that could be spent on transportation, assistance for a transition to clean energy, energy conservation, among other things.
Republicans opposed to the proposal sponsored about 40 amendments in an attempt to highlight their critiques of the bill, or make efforts they believe would improve it.
“It makes no sense for Washington to have a policy like this, which will simply drive jobs out of Washington to other countries” said state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, during floor debate.
“Don’t kid yourself, this policy will have zero impact on global climate,” added Ericksen, a climate-change skeptic and longtime opponent of Inslee’s clean-energy agenda.
House Bill 1091, the proposed low carbon-fuels standard that already has passed the House, seeks to use progressively cleaner fuels in cars, trucks, boats, trains and aircraft that in Washington generate more than 44% of total carbon emissions. Opponents have argued that the measure will increase the price of gas.
Time for lawmakers to reach agreements on these and other bills is running short, as the Legislature nears the end of a 105-day session later this month.