What do climate provisions in the U.S. Senate bill mean for Washington state? – Yakima Herald-Republic

August 10, 2022 by No Comments

The climate provisions of the U.S. Senate bill passed Sunday would create a slew of long-term federal tax breaks for proposed Washington solar farms, offer a $700 million investment in fuel technology sought by the developer of a next-generation Washington nuclear plant and broaden incentives for consumers to shift to electric cars and reduce fossil use in their homes.

All of this adds a substantial boost to a far-reaching effort by the state government to move Washington largely off fossil fuel energy by midcentury.

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“We now have a federal-state team to meet common goals,” said Geoff Potter, deputy director of federal affairs for Gov. Jay Inslee’s office. “It’s an unprecedented scale of investment but also a range of investment.”

The Senate bill, which is expected to gain approval from the House of Representatives later this week, helps define U.S. climate policy at a juncture in history when scientists say concerted global efforts are required to fend off the worst impacts of greenhouse gas pollution.

In the United States, national efforts to put a price on carbon pollution — or put other regulatory measures in place to move the nation off fossil fuels — have repeatedly failed, reflecting the deep political divide between Republicans and Democrats over what governments should do to address climate change.

The Senate bill passed Sunday without any Republican votes largely consists of financial incentives and investments totaling $369 billion in energy security and climate change programs.

That leaves the struggle to put a price on carbon pollution — long proposed by environmentalists as a key tool in making the difficult transition off fossils fuels — largely to state initiatives.

So far, carbon pricing has gotten the most traction in states with Democratic control like Washington, where Gov. Jay Inslee has worked with allies to pass major legislative measures.

These Washington state laws require power utilities by 2045 to shift off fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases, create an ever-lowering cap on greenhouse gas emissions that major polluters must meet, and also set up standards to reduce the carbon emissions in fuels for the transportation fleet.

“The lesson of history is unequivocal in that there is absolute need in a substantive economic transformation for a carrot-and-stick approach,” said state Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, who played a major role in developing state law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is leaving office at the end of this term.

Carlyle noted that the federal legislation does include a fee on a powerful greenhouse gas pollutant — methane — if flared without burning from oil and gas fields, and there could be other such fees on specific pollutants. But he doubts that systemwide carbon pricing at the federal level will be developed.

Becky Kelley, senior climate policy adviser to Inslee, said the Senate legislation would make it cheaper and easier for people to comply with state laws. It is complementary and “will make the whole system work better,” Kelley said.

The blueprint for Washington’s energy future is still a work in progress.

The Senate bill passed Sunday …….

Source: https://www.yakimaherald.com/news/northwest/what-do-climate-provisions-in-the-u-s-senate-bill-mean-for-washington-state/article_e06865aa-bdd7-510f-9d0c-7021ac0b22a9.html


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