For the first time since the state’s major environmental lobbying groups started laying out annual priorities a dozen years ago, they have made it formal: This year, they are pretty much just playing defense. in the House, Democrats hold their slimmest margin in years, meaning Speaker Frank Chopp and his lieutenants could lose a vote with just a few Democrats bolting to the Republican side on a given issue. So it seems that 2016 could be a year when little is accomplished on environmental policy by anyone. And on climate change, environmentlists are split between two camps pushing carbon reduction initiative measures.
The bill does not specify a timeline for closing the two units but it does require Puget Sound Energy to submit a proposed closure and decommissioning plan to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission by the end of 2017. At a hearing on the bill Thursday, four lawmakers from Montana spoke out against the Washington bill, arguing closing part of the plant would hurt the economy of Colstrip and drive up the cost of power for Montana residents and companies.
A controversial plan to limit carbon dioxide emissions in Oregon that failed a year ago is back, jostling with another ambitious plan from environmental groups and utilities at this year’s month-long legislative session in Salem. Industrial companies oppose the utilities proposal, and will also line up against carbon limits.
Demonstrating just how deep the current split runs in the state environmental movement, a progressive media outlet reports on certification of Initiative 732. “The Northwest Progressive Institute has worked for and against Washington State ballot measures every year since its inception, and we know a weak, flawed proposal when we see one.”
Commissioners at the Oregon Public Utility Commission believe the proposed bill that would fundamentally restructure Oregon’s energy supply by 2040, eliminating coal-fired power and forcing utilities to serve half their customers’ demand with renewable power. would increase electricity costs and wouldn’t actually reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
I-732 would put a tax on carbon, similar to the one in place in British Columbia. Now the proposal is moving forward and must either pass the legislature or, if that fails, a vote by the people in November. But right now, many observers think I-732’s chances are slim because of its repeated use of the word “tax” in the proposal’s language.
A newly completed report shows promising potential for small modular nuclear reactors in Washington state, according to Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, a proponent of nuclear power. The small reactors would have the potential for significant, steady generation of carbon-free power, the report said. Wednesday she introduced Senate Bill 6224 to act on recommendations in the new report.
“We’re in a war,” said Montana state Sen. Jim Keane, D-Butte, of protecting Colstrip’s workers and community. Three of the six utilities that own southeastern Montana’s Colstrip power plant have helped write legislation in Washington state and Oregon that could threaten future operations of the second-largest coal-fired plant in the West.