OLYMPIA… As the state Legislature passes its first important deadlines, state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, rates this as a productive session for his Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee.
“We’ve done plenty to protect our state’s low-cost energy, promote manufacturing and preserve jobs,” said Ericksen, chairman of the Senate energy panel. “Among other things, we have offered a realistic and reasonable proposal to improve the safety of oil shipments by rail. And we have outlined a bold new vision for clean energy in this state. That’s not bad for seven weeks’ work.”
Over the last two weeks legislative committees have faced deadlines for the passage of policy bills that will receive further consideration this session. Top issues addressed by the Energy, Environment and Telecommunications committee before the cutoff and awaiting votes in the Senate Rules Committee and on the Senate floor include:
- Oil-train safety. Senate Bill 5057 provides money for emergency-crew training and equipment, one of the few areas where state action is not preempted by federal regulation of railroads. The measure also launches a study to determine whether the state’s rules covering marine shipments of oil are adequate.
- Clean-energy incentives. SB 5735 is the centerpiece of a package of bills that aim to promote clean energy, conservation and job growth. The measure for the first time gives Washington utilities a financial incentive to invest in programs that reduce carbon emissions, by allowing utilities to comply with the state rules that require utilities to purchase alternative energy.
- Nuclear policy. A series of bills sponsored by Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, promote research and investment in small modular nuclear reactor development, a promising zero-emission technology that promises greater safety than earlier generations of reactor design.
- Renewable energy. SB 5094 provides incentives for new utility investment in clean hydropower. SB 5424 allows public utility districts to sell natural gas generated at landfills for transportation purposes.
- Environmental cleanups. SB 5829 streamlines procedures under the state’s Model Toxics Control Act, the law that governs the cleanup of contaminated industrial sites and other polluted locations. When a portion of a cleanup plan is challenged or appealed, the measure would allow work on the rest of the project to continue.