UPDATE 2: Gov. Jay Inslee put out this statement after today’s passage of his climate-change bill, his first legislation to pass both chambers:
“Today’s bipartisan support for the climate action bill is welcome news. We’ve seen the impacts of climate change already affecting some of Washington’s key industries with shellfish growers moving operations due to ocean acidification and the farmers in Eastern Washington seeing reduced water supplies as a result of reduced snowpack. This is our opportunity to not only make sure we protect those important industries, but also grow new jobs in the design and manufacturing of clean energy. This bill is a collaborative, bipartisan step forward that will allow us to seize the environmental and economic opportunities of addressing climate change and preserve the legacy of stewardship we owe our children.”
UPDATE 1: The House vote was 62-31 to send Gov. Inslee the climate-study bill he had requested. The roll call is here, showing a 61-to-32 vote. But Democratic Rep. Chris Hurst of Enumclaw is filling out paperwork to change his vote from a no to a yes.
ORIGINAL POST: Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee has dropped objections to Senate Republicans’ watered-down version of his climate-change study bill. Legislative director Ted Sturdevant said today it came down to wanting a bill that lets the state start right away on a bipartisan study of state options for reducing greenhouse gases.
The state House is beginning debate on Substitute Senate Bill 5802 late this morning or in the afternoon. Republican Sen. Doug Ericksen of Ferndale had removed language from the original bill that declared Washington’s vulnerability to climate changes including rising sea levels, acidifying oceans, shrinking glaciers and snowpack and risks to forest health.
Ericksen has said he wants to get the “religion” out of the carbon pollution debate and move forward on looking for solutions the state could afford.
Said Sturdevant: “It was a cost benefit – do we get this done and get the conversation started? Or do we want to continue to rework both the framing of the conversation, which is the intent language, as well as the specific processes. Our determination is we think neither of those are important enough potentially to intentionally slow down or lose the bill. So why don’t we pass it and get started with the conversation?”
Sturdevant said there is always a risk of bills being taken hostage if it is known someone wants a bill. In this case, he said it is clear the governor wants the bill.
“I liked the original language better,” House Environment Committee chair Dave Upthegrove, D-Des Moines, agreed. “But I think it’s better to get bipartisan engagement … If we have a process people are more comfortable with that’s more important.’’
The measure has an emergency clause which means work can begin right away after Inslee signs the bill. That means it could start next month, Sturdevant said.
SB 5802 is expected to cost about $627,500 over two biennia, including a study by an independent third party that will look at what other states and jurisdictions have done to reduce greenhouse gases – and what the costs could be.
Updates include an increase in costs – $250,000 for the current biennium and $377,500 for 2013-15.