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Rockefeller Proposes Green Jobs Bill

January 29th, 2009 by Steven Gardner

State Sen. Phil Rockefeller, D-Bainbridge Island, is sponsoring the Green Jobs and Climate Action bill (It’s a PDF download) in the state Senate.

The bill has cap-and-trade provisions and money to create energy-saving transportation options, green buildings and energy and incentives for people to buy plug-in vehicles.

You can get some details of the bill after the jump from press releases, or by downloading the bill above, or by reading this story from The Olympian. The bill is being done at the request of the governor. State Reps. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, and Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, have their names on the House bill.

Gov. Gregoire, legislative leaders announce Green Jobs and Climate Action legislation

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire and legislative leaders today announced a comprehensive Green Jobs and Climate Action legislative package. The proposed legislation will create jobs, expand our green economy, and make important progress toward energy independence.

“Washington is well-positioned to capitalize on the unique economic opportunities surrounding the growing green sector,” Gregoire said. “These proposals will help protect our environment as well as create and support jobs, stimulate the regional economy and strengthen Washington’s competitiveness in the global economy.”

In a news conference at the South Puget Sound Community College’s new LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Natural Sciences Building, Gregoire announced the following actions to stimulate green jobs and fight climate change:

* Proposed investments totaling $455 million in the next biennium for energy-reducing transportation projects, energy efficiency projects, green buildings and clean-energy technology. Investments will support an estimated 2,900 jobs in 2010 and 2011.
* Legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions and create market incentives that will drive reductions in climate-changing greenhouse gas pollution through a cap-and-trade system designed last year by the seven states (including Washington) and four Canadian provinces in the Western Climate Initiative.
* Legislation providing a state tax exemption for the new generation of plug-in electric vehicles, a strategy to encourage Washington residents to purchase efficient and “clean” cars and which sends an important signal to the marketplace.
* A proposed partnership with the state’s clean technology industries to identify actions needed to ensure that Washington remains at the cutting edge of the green energy future.
* Asking the State Building Code Council to improve building energy efficiency by 30 percent beyond the 2006 standards.

“We can’t afford to delay. The time to act is now,” said Sen. Phil Rockefeller, D-Kitsap County, who chairs the Senate Environment, Water & Energy Committee and is sponsor of the Green Jobs and Climate Action legislation in the Senate.

“Our state’s environment and quality of life depend on decisive actions to slow the dramatic changes in our climate. Our best hope for doing this is to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels,” Rockefeller said. “Washington state must continue to lead the way and demonstrate that we can power our economy by more efficient use of energy, and by making the necessary transition to renewable and alternative energy sources in place of carbon-based fuels.”

“Acting now, we can create the certainty that many businesses need to invest in the green economy and create jobs,” said Rep. Dave Upthegrove, D-Des Moines, who chairs the House Ecology and Parks Committee and is the legislation’s sponsor in that chamber. “Many of the investments in reducing climate-changing pollution will pay for themselves in lower expenditures on energy and fuel. The sooner the incentives are in place, the sooner they will pay off.”

“We know that keeping a forest healthy will help the trees absorb carbon and store it in wood products, and this new bill highlights the fact that we can create and foster the carbon market,” said Sen. James Hargrove, D-Hoquiam. “It shows that we can do the right thing for the environment as well as our forest products industry, and we’re finally realizing that cutting down trees and using wood products can help solve global climate change.”

The new legislation and investments are necessary for Washington to reach the greenhouse gas reductions called for in state law, which are:

* Shrinking greenhouse gas pollution to 1990 levels by 2020.
* Cutting greenhouse gases to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035 and 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Without the new legislation, Washington’s climate action policies will achieve only 45 percent of the reductions the state needs to meet by 2020.

In addition, the governor also announced the results of a study by economists at the state Employment Security Department, which shows that Washington businesses have made a strong start in creating green jobs.

The study estimates that private-sector businesses and industries in Washington directly employ more than 47,000 people in green jobs — about 87 percent of them full-time workers. That’s nearly double the state goal of 25,000 by 2020.

Employment Security identifies green jobs as those that promote a healthy environment and energy security in four key business and industry sectors: energy efficiency, renewable energy, preventing and reducing pollution, and mitigating or cleaning up pollution.

Today 12 governors sent a letter to President Obama to request a meeting with him to develop a partnership to build a comprehensive American energy and climate policy strategy. Last November, then President-elect Obama called on all Governor’s at the national Climate Summit to find an aggressive and unified approach to in addressing global climate change challenges. This meeting request will be the first critical step toward that goal.

Here’s the Association of Washington Business’ response:

Proposal creates a whole new set of economic challenges for Washington

OLYMPIA— Citing rising unemployment rates and mounting economic pressures on employers in Washington state, members of the Association of Washington Business said the “Green Jobs and Climate Action” plan put forward by the governor creates a whole new set of economic challenges facing our state at a time when we can least afford them.

AWB’s Subcommittee on Climate Change voted unanimously today to oppose the cap and trade bill included in the package. The governor’s proposal would cap air emissions and charge those exceeding the caps.

“For years, Washington state has been a leader in taking steps to preserve and protect our environment and promote energy independence. While our members remain committed to improving our air quality and will continue to work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we believe the governor’s proposal creates a whole new set of costs for employers struggling to keep people working,” said AWB President Don Brunell.

“Right now, though, our members are concerned most with keeping their doors open. Passing legislation that imposes expensive cap and trade regulations adds costs. Those costs could lead to job losses at existing businesses and send the wrong signal to companies that are looking to locate in our state and create jobs, to go elsewhere,” he said.

“Washington’s employer community has been a partner in a variety of green efforts ranging from wind energy to the reduction of CO2 emissions. We are not starting from zero in Washington when it comes to environmental regulation. Unfortunately, this bill fails to recognize the proactive steps our members have already taken and will only deter other businesses from investing in our state.”

Recent polls, including a national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, indicate the economy and jobs trump all other legislative priorities.

“Every dollar we spend on this is one more dollar we don’t have to spend on energy investments,” said Llewellyn Matthews executive director, Northwest Pulp and Paper Association and co-chair of the AWB Subcommittee on Climate Change. “Washington’s pulp and paper mills have met and in many cases exceed state environmental requirements, including recycling. Our mills self-produce most of their energy from sustainably grown biomass and some have reached as high as 85 percent of their needs, greatly exceeding the national average. These early efforts greatly reduce emissions of greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

“The bill as proposed will not only negatively impact our ability to make further investments and achieve further progress, but threatens our economic viability.”

Dave McEntee, vice president of Simpson Investment Company and member of AWB’s board of directors, said they’re already investing in green jobs and infrastructure that has cut their emissions in half at the company’s Tacoma pulp and paper operations.

“We’re already invested in the green economy to the tune of $100 million in the last two years. We know about green jobs — we’ve invested in it and we’re doing it. Unfortunately, this bill does nothing more than add to the cost of doing business,” said McEntee.

“If it doesn’t help a company that made these investments today, how can you expect companies that are just getting involved to be successful, especially in this economy?”

House Bill 1819 and Senate Bill 5735 will be heard next Tuesday, Feb. 3 at 10 a.m. in the House and 11 a.m. in the Senate, respectively.

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2 Responses to “Rockefeller Proposes Green Jobs Bill”

  1. Blue Light Says:

    Today’s Port Orchard Independent is reporting that the Port of Bremerton has contracted with recently “retired” CEO Ken Atterbery to oversee the ongoing fiasco that is the SEED project. He is scheduled to make $150 an hour. That’s pretty “green”.

  2. Tom Nevins Says:

    According to the Washington State Legislature bill information site, both House Bill 1819 and Senate Bill 5735 will be heard next Tuesday, Feb. 3 at 10 a.m. (subject to change)
    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5735&year=2009

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