Posted by: Tim Sweeney | March 11, 2015

Policy Junkie: Split Senate Okays Weakening of Alternative Energy Mandate

Tim Sweeney is The Policy Junkie

Tim Sweeney is The Policy Junkie

Another great guest post from The Policy Junkie. If you want to read more by Tim, check out his blog on New Orleans music and culture here

Senator Doug Ericksen’s bill weakening the Washington law, approved by initiative, that mandates alternative energy development passed the State Senate on Monday. But not without a debate on whether the legislature believes human activities contribute to global climate change.

SB 5735 would allow power utilities to meet the alternative energy mandate under Initiative 973, by investing in carbon reduction activities. But most of the Senators who voted for the bill, didn’t agree with the notion that human activities in producing carbon gases are contributing to climate change.

Sen. Ericksen’s bill amends the Energy Independence Act so that electric utilities can earn credit towards the Act’s renewable energy mandate by underwriting other carbon reduction activities, even those unrelated to power generation. The bill also allows the utility to escape the mandate if it spends up to 1 percent of its revenues on carbon reduction activities.

See previous post for more details on the Energy Independence Act and SB 5735.

The bill passed 26 to 23 with Democratic Senators Maralyn Chase (Shoreline), Jim Hargrove (Hoquiam), and Brian Hatfield (Raymond) joining all the Republican Senators except for King County Senators Andy Hill (Redmond), Steve Litzow (Mercer Island), and Mark Miloscia (Federal Way). Self-declared Democrat Senator Tim Sheldon voted for the bill.

Ericksen and Ranker, clashing over Climate Change

Ericksen and Ranker, clashing over Climate Change

But before the final vote, Sen. Ericksen thwarted a Democrat attempt to create an intent section that said “human activity significantly contributes to climate change.”  He successfully offered an alternative intent section that said “human activity may contribute to climate change.”

Despite using “may” instead of “might,” the ensuing debate over the competing intent sections once again highlighted the inability for the State Senate to reach a consensus on the causes of climate change.

Sen. Ranker, who sat on a Governor-Legislative climate workgroup with Ericksen in 2013, seemed noticeably impatient with the Senate’s failure to recognize the role of humans in climate change. “Stop waffling!”

But Ranker wasn’t as impatient as Ericksen who seemed anxious to get past this awkward issue for his caucus and get to the substance of the bill.

On final passage, Senator Cyrus Habib, who proposed the amendment, noted that the title of the bill was to “provide incentives for carbon reduction investments.”  What is the point of investing in carbon reduction activities if humans are not the problem, he asked.

“If it’s not human activity, why have a bill that attempts to reduce carbon?” noted Habib.

Perhaps to undercut a renewable energy mandate that has never been liked by Senator Ericksen and many of his colleagues. Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) made it clear when, speaking for the bill, he said he would rather “gut” the Energy Independence Act.

The Governor’s proposal to install a greenhouse gas cap on major emitters (HB 1314) receives a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee, Thursday at 3:30 p.m. This will be the second House committee to review the bill. The Senate has yet to consider the Governor’s proposal.



  1. “whether human activities contribute to global climate change”-Is NOT KNOWN at this time.

    How about we spend this money on turning around the education system that the Progressives and unions have destroyed over the last 102 years?

    • Wrong again Wayne. There is plenty of evidence. By the way, have you gotten your monthly check from the Koch Brothers for March?

  2. There is no more debate on global climate change; there are only deniers showing the world how scientifically illiterate they are.

    • There is MUCH more debate but many are being silenced by the “believers” (the same people who thought the earth was flat).

      • Hah, hah, hah! Your attempt to spin those of us who do science every day as “flat-earthers” is hilarious! As the Monty Python troupe would say, “Pull the other one!”

      • Well said, Walter!

      • I will best attempt to capture Wayne Haugen’s (and Sen. Ericksen’s) view of peer-reviewed climatological studies (in my best Eli Wallach voice):

        ‘Studies? We don’t need no stinking studies!’

        (with apologies to Rick Garcia from the movie “Blazing Saddles”).

      • I meant Walter Haugen. Sorry, Wayne.

  3. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” (Upton Sinclair)
    This is why it is so difficult for some to understand the reality that human activity significantly contributes to climate change. And also why it’s important to point out that it’s the fossil fuel industry itself that is funding the minority of scientists who have become “the merchants of doubt.”

    Meanwhile, the precautionary principle, which is one of the hallmarks of true conservatism, goes out the window.

  4. BREAKING: Roxanne Murphy is running at-large, not in Ward 3 (not against Dan Hammill).

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