Sunday, February 28, 2021
Feb. 28, 2021

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Republicans on climate panel want more time

Democrats object to request to put off proposals for a year

The Columbian

SEATTLE — After a state climate panel missed a deadline to deliver recommendations on reducing carbon emissions, two Republican members on the group said Wednesday they want another year to study the economic costs of proposals.

Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, and Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, said the five-member panel should continue to meet to examine the costs and benefits before undertaking some costly carbon-reducing proposals, such as a cap-and-trade program or carbon tax.

Those and other ambitious strategies have been proposed by Democratic members of the panel, including Gov. Jay Inslee.

“We bit off so much,” said Ericksen, who heads the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee. He said legislators need more solid data before they can move forward.

But Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, said the panel has enough information and needs to act.

“Enough talk. Now it’s time to start putting programs together,” he said Wednesday. “We need to start deciding on what we’re going to do.”

The bipartisan group of lawmakers created by the Legislature last year to come up with cost-effective carbon-reducing strategies has been at odds over how best to do that.

They were so far apart last month that they canceled a Dec. 18 meeting in Olympia to try to work out a compromise.

The panel includes two Republicans, two Democrats and the governor as a nonvoting member. Any recommendation needs approval from at least three panelists. The panel is split along party lines.

The Democrats released a draft proposal last month that included strategies such as capping carbon pollution, phasing out coal-fired electricity and developing lower carbon fuel standards.

Meanwhile, the Republicans’ draft proposed encouraging conservation, exploring nuclear power and revisiting the state’s goals set in 2008.

That 2008 state law called for Washington to return to 1990 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2020, and for greater reductions beyond that.