Two of four members call on workgroup to finish economic analysis
Republican members of the Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup (CLEW), Rep. Shelly Shortand Sen. Doug Ericksen, today called for the workgroup to finish the economic and environmental analysis of various carbon reduction policy proposals.
The two legislators said the CLEW process should be extended for another year to continue examining the costs and potential benefits of numerous energy issues in Washington state.
“It is vital that legislators receive accurate information about the economic costs and the potential environmental benefits surrounding any carbon-reduction efforts,” said Ericksen, R-Ferndale and chair of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee. “We also need real numbers on Washington’s actual role in worldwide carbon output.”
The bipartisan workgroup was created through legislation last year. It is comprised of House and Senate Democrats and Republicans, with Gov. Jay Inslee sitting in as a non-voting member.
“Both sides agree that an economic analysis is necessary and we appreciate the governor’s willingness, as of late, to consider the importance of Washington’s economy before introducing costly carbon reduction policies,” said Short, R-Addy and ranking member on the House Environment Committee.
“We believe the process set in place by CLEW represents a balanced approach to legislative and executive involvement that can lead to common-sense solutions down the road that protect our economy for decades to come,” continued Short. “Any ‘go-it-alone’ approach by the governor or his office alienates the legislative branch and the hundreds of thousands of citizens we represent.”
Ericksen said he was concerned that while some in Olympia are calling on the Legislature to take drastic and dramatic actions on energy production, much of the information about the economic impacts or environmental benefits that could be achieved in Washington is not readily available.
“The first year of the CLEW process highlighted just how little is known about how a regional or state-only cap-and-trade or carbon tax would impact our state,” said Ericksen. “We also do not have solid data on the potential positive economic impacts that could come from a focus on replacing carbon fuels with nuclear energy, increased hydro power or making conservation a priority.
“I think that some on the panel were surprised at the lack of information currently available and the massive negative impacts that cap-and-trade plans would have on Washington’s manufacturing jobs,” said Ericksen. “We need more information and the CLEW process is a legislatively-created tool to get that information.”
? If the CLEW process extends into next year, members of the workgroup could examine any or all of the following proposals:
? Establishing a carbon limits and related market program (e.g., cap/trade);
? Establishing a carbon tax;
? Expanding the use of advanced nuclear power as a replacement for fossil fuels;
? Phasing out coal-fired electrical power generated out-of-state;
? Changes to the fuel mix report to track Renewable Energy Credits, including a study of how the state’s projected achievement of its greenhouse gas (GHG) targets might differ if production-based emissions accounting is used instead of consumption-based accounting;
? Accelerating clean technology investments that reduce carbon emissions;
? Increasing energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings; and
? Changes to I-937 that reduce costs to taxpayers.
This list of policies would be specifically analyzed for economic impacts with oversight by CLEW members and then undergo independent expert economic analysis. However, both Short and Ericksen made it clear that calling for further analysis is not an indication that they or all the other members are in agreement on whether these policies should be implemented.
“Implementing environmental policies that may or may not achieve their stated carbon-reduction goals simply for the sake of passion, ideology or political correctness is the wrong way to go,” said Short. “We need to know how much these policies will cost our families, individuals, employers and local and state economies before even considering any of these proposals.”