House Approves Low Carbon Fuel Standard

The state House of Representatives has approved a measure that would authorize the state Department of Ecology to implement a California-style low carbon fuel standard. House Republicans voted no, saying it will significantly increase the price of gas and goods. Washington House Republicans’ John Sattgast filed this audio report from Olympia.

SATTGAST: It was one of the longest floor debates of the session. Nearly three-and-a-half hours.

BARKIS: “So Mr. Speaker, I’m afraid of those costs for the citizens of this state.”

SATTGAST: Republicans such as State Representative Andrew Barkis of Olympia, standing up to fight against a proposal they say is one of the most costliest mechanisms with unproven environmental results.

BARKIS: “I’m afraid of them having to pay at the pump 13, 15, 30 cents more a gallon. The citizens of this state have spoken. Many, many times. And they made it clear on this particular type of policy. They said no. And we need to say no again tonight.”

SATTGAST:  Sixteen cents a gallon more is what Californians are paying for their low carbon fuel standard.

ORCUTT: “People care about the price at the pump. This will raise the price at the pump. This will hurt working families.”

SATTGAST: That’s Republican Representative Ed Orcutt from Kalama. Joe Schmick from Colfax represents the enormous rural 9th District in Eastern Washington.

SCHMICK: “They’re going to pay more for goods and services, whether that’s food, diapers. . .”

SATTGAST: Republicans noted that if gas prices soar, it would affect those who could least afford it. This is 14th District Representative Chris Corry of Yakima .

CORRY: “This is a regressive tax. It’s going to cost our low- and middle-income families more money. And that is not right. We shouldn’t be doing that. They are stretched enough.”

SATTGAST: Representative Tom Dent is a rancher in Moses Lake.

DENT: “And this is going to hurt my district. And the people. My phone has been sitting here this evening with texts coming from my constituents saying, ‘This is ridiculous. We can’t have this. We can’t go there. We can’t do this!’”

SATTGAST: Representative Jeremie Dufault (DOO FOH) noting this legislation turns its back on a bipartisan agreement made four years ago as a part of a transportation funding package that there would be no low carbon fuel standard enacted.

DUFAULT: “That is a breach of trust with the folks who we represent, Mr. Speaker. And I ask that we vote no on that provision alone.”

SATTGAST: Unified in their message, House Republicans, such as Spokane Valley Representative Matt Shea, said there are better ways to reduce carbon.

SHEA: “The greatest thing we can do to reduce greenhouse gases in Washington state and that is manage our forests better. Period. End of story. Eight to 10 million tons of CO2 released every year from catastrophic wildfires. Just one year would do more than the plan that is proposed over 10.”

SATTGAST: In the end, two Democrats crossed over to vote against the measure with Republicans. However, it wasn’t enough to stop the bill.

FINAL VOTE: “Mr. Speaker, there are 53 yeas, 43 nays, two excused. Having received the constitutional majority, Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1110 is declared passed (gavel).”

SATTGAST: The measure now heads to the Senate for further consideration. John Sattgast, Olympia.

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