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May 31, 2020

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Pike at odds with Inslee over cap and trade

Governor's '130 dirty list' of state's top polluters draw representative's ire

By , Columbian Political Writer

Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, criticized Gov. Jay Inslee’s cap-and-trade proposal and chastised the state’s top executive for calling businesses in her legislative district “polluters.”

“I’m just furious. … He’s identified polluters, and I call them enterprising job creators for Washington’s working families,” Pike said.

The cornerstone of Inslee’s legislative agenda, his controversial cap-and-trade system that would curb carbon emissions, drew hundreds to Olympia last week to testify. The measure had plenty of supporters who said action on climate change is crucial; but Pike, along with many other Republicans, blasted the plan.

House Bill 1314 aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by requiring the state’s biggest polluters to buy a permit at an auction to emit carbon. at a specific level. The permits would raise money the governor believes could fund the state’s education and transportation systems.

Over time, the cap would be lowered, allowing for less emission.

The governor has branded his plan as a way to “put the burden on polluting industries rather than mothers and fathers.”

Last week, he told The Columbian, that he’s optimistic the proposal will pass.

“I mean, this is a new idea to a lot of legislators, so they are asking good, sincere questions about (the measure) and we have good, sincere answers,” Inslee said. “We have a very well-thought-out package that instead of putting the burden on drivers and the gas tax, it puts the burden on major polluting industries and reducing carbon pollution and gives us healthy air and our kids less pollutants that cause asthma.”

Several of the businesses identified as the state’s top polluters are in Pike’s district. She’s taken to calling the list of the state’s top polluters, “Inslee’s 130 dirty list.”

“Make no mistake, this carbon tax is going to harm businesses in Washington, people like WaferTech; they are part of a global network, and their mothership is in Washington,” Pike said.

WafterTech, in Camas, is a semiconductor contract manufacture plant built in 1998 that employs about 1,000 people.

“We are supportive of the goal of reducing greenhouse gases,” said Lynn Seagren, a spokesman for the company.

“Any bill, depending on how it’s written, can be onerous for an employer, and I can’t comment on that particular proposal,” he said.

Seagren said the company’s top officials are currently in talks with the governor’s office.

The River Road Generating Plant, a natural gas-generating plant owned by Clark County Utilities, is also on the list of the state’s 130 top polluters. The plant began operating in 1997.

“We can only speculate as to the economic impact to Clark ratepayers,” said spokeswoman Erica Erland. “With this particular proposal, we do know there would be an economic impact depending on the numbers reported.”

Depending on the numbers associated with the cap-and-trade proposal, the economic implications range, Erland said. The plant emits 700,000 tons of carbon per year, so if it were $12 per ton, it would require additional payments of $8.4 million from Clark County ratepayers, or a 2.5 percent rate increase, she said.

“We’re careful (to monitor) what these policies mean for our customers,” Erland said. “We’re a public at-cost service provider. When policies are made that impact our operation, or our budget, that impacts our customers.”