• Home
  • Blog
  • Gov. Inslee's Climate Change Study Bill Is The First Energy Legislation to Clear the...

Gov. Inslee's Climate Change Study Bill Is The First Energy Legislation to Clear the Washington Legislature

March 26, 2013 posted by Eric Christensen

On Monday, the Washington House of Representatives passed ESSB 5802, which creates a "Climate Legislative and Executive Work Group" to study the state's options for achieving significant reductions in greenhouse gases. The bill, which is the first of Gov. Inslee's legislative requests to pass both houses of the legislature, will set the stage for more substantive legislative action on climate change in next year's legislative session. ESSB 5802 is intended to jump-start the debate on greenhouse gas reduction in the 2014 legislative session by delivering a set of recommended policies to the legislature by the end of 2013. The first step in this process calls for the Climate Legislative and Executive Work Group to retain a politically neutral consultant to carry out a comprehensive study of the policy options for reducing Washington's greenhouse gas emissions, including a baseline assessment of current GHG emissions by sector, a review of programs adopted by the federal government and by other states and neighboring provinces of Canada, and an analysis of the costs and benefits of the various policy options. The study must also examine a range of specifically-designated policies, including, for example, a Renewable Fuels Standard, emissions performance standards, and policies to encourage greater energy efficiency. This initial evaluation will be delivered to Gov. Inslee by October 15, 2013. Based on the results of this study, the Gov. Inslee will then deliver a set of preferred policies to the Work Group, including those portions of the policy study supporting the preferred alternatives. The Work Group, a five-member body consisting of the Governor and one member from each caucus in each house of the legislature, is then to recommend a set of policies that will achieve the Washington's previously adopted greenhouse gas reduction goals. Those goals include a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a reduction to 25% below 1990 levels by 2035, and, by 2050, "to reach global climate stabilization levels by reducing overall emissions to fifty percent below 1990 levels, or seventy percent below the state's expected emissions that year." The Work Group is required to deliver its report to the appropriate legislative committees by the end of this year. The passage of ESSB 5802 leaves little doubt that greenhouse gas reductions will be a major topic of legislative discussion next year, and probably for many years after that. On the other hand, the legislative journey of ESSB 5802 suggests that the outcome of that legislative effort is anything but certain. As originally proposed, the bill included strong language describing the threat climate change presents to the State of Washington. This language was removed from the final bill. If you have any questions about ESSB 5208, other energy or environmental legislation now pending in the Washington legislature, or concerns about greenhouse gas regulation, please contact a member of GTH's Energy, Telecommunications, and Utilities practice group or Environment & Natural Resources practice group. These practice groups are consistently recognized as among the best, both nationally and in the Pacific Northwest. In addition, GTH-Government Affairs offers comprehensive government relations services, including advocacy, research, and strategic advice in both Olympia and Washington, D.C.