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Energy plans worry Honeyford, Republicans

OLYMPIA - The Republicans in the Washington State Senate are concerned about new energy recommendations being proposed during the coming legislative session.

The recommendations come from Gov. Christine Gregoire's climate action team.

The proposals are called "job-killing environmental measures that have never been proven to reduce energy costs or protect the environment," Sen. Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside wrote in recent correspondence as the ranking Republican member of the Senate's water, energy and telecommunications committee.

The Governor's team's recommendations reportedly include taxes limiting the number of miles people can drive, without considering those who must drive certain distances for work or for trucking companies.

That's according to Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, a member of the climate team. Delvin wrote a minority report calling for changes in the approach to dealing with climate issues.

Delvin says the recommendations will cost state citizens and businesses a "small fortune." He suggests instead that the state offers incentives for using transit and electric or hybrid cars.

Senate Republicans say they are also worried about other energy mandates on the horizon, such as a federal tax that may be put forward taxing dairy farmers $175 for every dairy cow due to methane gas emissions.

Another sticking point for Senate Republicans is a move by state inspectors to begin issuing tickets in the field for water quality violations. On-the-spot fines can range anywhere from $500 to $3,000.

Honeyford and other Senate Republicans did find some positive energy news, noting that algae may be the next "miracle bio-fuel." Research has shown that algae can be modified to produce fuels. It can also be blended into diesel and gasoline and perhaps eventually replace petroleum-based diesel and gasoline.

Algae apparently can also reduce carbon, as carbon dioxide emissions can be used as plant food to help grow algae.

That's the kind of energy ideas Senate Republicans say they can get behind.

"We Senate Republicans support environmental proposals aimed at promoting new technologies to increase energy efficiencies, reducing fuel and heating costs," Honeyford stated. He added that his colleagues seek energy and environmental proposals that help in "creating jobs, boosting national security and -- most importantly -- respecting individual choice and personal freedom."

The 2009 legislative session begins next month.

Senator Honeyford can be reached at 360-786-7684 or at Honeyford.jim@leg.wa.gov

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