Ericksen proposes compromise on carbon, clean energy

— ‘Working Families Protection Clause’ strikes balance
— Inslee carbon cap offers no environmental gain, threatens manufacturers, jobs
— Manufacturing is vital to Washington economy

Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, speaks on the Senate floor.

Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, speaks on the Senate floor.

OLYMPIA – In a message to his email list, Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, suggests compromise is possible with Gov. Jay Inslee on carbon and clean energy.

Ericksen, chair of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, proposes to extend subsidies for the solar-power industry if the governor backs away from a threat to unilaterally impose a “carbon cap” on the state’s largest industries and utilities. The carbon-cap plan, a form of cap-and-trade, should be seen as a tax on energy – and will kill industrial jobs in the state, Ericksen argues.

“Let’s strike a bargain that will do the greatest good for the environment, demonstrate we value manufacturing and the high-paying jobs that come with it, and help Washington continue setting the standard for innovation,” Ericksen said in his message.

The offer is conveyed in HB 2346, a bill that continues tax subsidies for solar installations that otherwise will expire in 2020 – a package worth roughly $150 million. Ericksen’s committee added a series of amendments he calls a “Working Families Protection Clause.” They would eliminate the tax subsidies if the governor imposes a cap and trade rule without specific authority from the Legislature.

In his message, Ericksen makes the following points:

— The governor’s carbon-cap plan puts the state at a competitive disadvantage – and will send manufacturing elsewhere.
— If reducing carbon emissions is the goal, Washington would do more by bringing manufacturing to the state rather than chasing it away.
— The state would be foolish to enact costly new energy policies when the governor’s program and carbon-tax ballot measures create enormous uncertainty for industry and consumers.

Ericksen noted that even though the Department of Ecology has temporarily withdrawn the carbon-cap proposal it has designed for Inslee, the governor could restart the rulemaking effort at any time. “There is a direct connection between this solar legislation and the governor’s plan to impose a carbon cap,” Ericksen explained. “We cannot consider energy policies in a vacuum. This is a scary moment for anyone who uses electricity and motor fuel in this state, and as long as the governor’s threat is active, we should avoid further artificial tinkering with the energy market.”