State Senate approves climate-change legislation

By David Ammons
The Seattle Times/Associated Press

Olympia, Washington — Al Gore and his “inconvenient truth” about global warming were invoked Saturday as the state Senate voted to sign up Washington in the crusade to combat climate changes.

The Senate voted 35-13 for the Legislature’s major global-warming legislation of the session.
It has the backing of Gov. Christine Gregoire and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, who are working with their respective counterparts to lessen greenhouse emissions. King County Executive Ron Sims hopes to cut emissions in the county by 80 percent below current levels by 2050.

House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, said the House is eager to study the Senate legislation.

The Senate measure sets state goals to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, requires the Ecology Department to set standards for electric utilities, creates a tax credit for consumer-owned utilities that invest in energy-efficiency measures and creates an office of state climatologist. It would promote “clean-energy” jobs, reduction of petroleum purchases and the use of plug-in electric hybrid cars.

The bill also would address how the state could join other states that allow power companies to buy, sell and trade “credits,” allowing them to emit a certain amount of pollution in exchange for others’ producing less.

“This is not about global warming — it’s about climate change,” said Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, prime sponsor. “We are changing the climate of the planet.”


Legislature: The Senate bill is SB6001. The House measure is HB1303.
Using the title of Al Gore’s lecture, book and Oscar-winning movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” he and others called for a strong response from the state, the West’s second-largest.

Washington is vulnerable to climate change because of its long coastline and because dwindling snowpack threatens the economy of Eastern Washington and power production, Pridemore said. “This is an inconvenient truth. There is a problem for the world, for the polar bear, for the state of Washington. This [legislation] is part of the answer.”

Critics called the bill overreacting and said it could drive up power bills and hurt the economy. Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, said it’s a trendy issue, but that sponsors haven’t thought through how it will affect citizens.

House action

The House, meanwhile, passed the Clean Air-Clean Fuels Act. The vote was 79-18. It now goes to the Senate.

The measure would:

• Direct state agencies to reduce fossil-fuel use by at least 25 percent by 2020 and require most government vehicles to use biofuels or electricity by 2015.

• Replace 700 old diesel school buses.

• Boost the emerging biodiesel industry.

• Help ports pollute less.

• Involve the University of Washington and Washington State University researchers in long-term analysis and planning to ease impacts of global warming.

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