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Gov. Inslee’s ‘clean energy’ order may face hurdles

SEATTLE - Gov. Jay Inslee yesterday, Tuesday, signed an executive order outlining a series of steps to cut carbon pollution in Washington and advance development and use of clean energy technologies.

“This is the right time to act, the right place to act and we are the right people to act,” Inslee said in remarks delivered at Shoreline Community College’s Professional Automotive Training Center.

“We will engage the right people, consider the right options, ask the right questions and come to the right answers - answers that work for Washington.”

Inslee’s executive order does not implement any new programs, instead setting out what his office calls a deliberative and public process.

The action plan called for by the governor calls on the state to:

  • Reduce carbon emissions through new cap-and-market program.

  • End use of electricity generated by coal. Several state agencies will work with key utilities to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the use of electrical power produced by coal.

  • Develop clean transportation options and cleaner fuels. Cars, trucks and other transportation sources accounted for 44 percent of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2010, with 23 percent coming from gasoline consumption.

  • Accelerate development and deployment of clean energy technology. The Department of Commerce will work with WSU and others on creating a program to develop and deploy new technologies for renewable energy and energy efficiency as well as recommend proposals for funding.

  • Improve the energy efficiency of homes and workplaces. The effort will include research to help homeowners, developers, businesses and governments significantly boost the energy performance of public and private buildings.

  • Reduce state government’s carbon footprint. The Department of Enterprise Services will lead efforts to reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency throughout state government.

Most of the major action plan elements detailed by Inslee will require either legislative approval or legislative appropriation for funding.

That could be a problem, as Sen. Jim Honeyford notes lawmakers may have issues with Inslee’s proposals.

“Washington state only produces 0.03 percent of the world’s greenhouse gasses,” said Honeyford (R-Sunnyside). “I am concerned about the cost impacts on new homes and the affordability impacts of his program for rental housing.”

Honeyford says Inslee’s proposals may harm other sectors of the economy, as well.

“While he doesn’t directly address the cost impacts for auto fuels, it could raise fuel prices by as much as $1 per gallon,” the senator said. “Lastly, his program to eliminate utilities from using out-of-state coal fired generation of electricity and replace it with more costly wind and solar power will increase the cost of electricity for homes, factories, businesses and agriculture.”

Honeyford concluded, “We have cheap power in Washington and that attracts companies to invest in facilities in our state.”

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