Governor Gregoire to Announce Climate Action & Green Jobs Bill as Priority

At the Priorities for a Healthy Washington Legislative Workshop held in Seattle on Saturday, it was disclosed that Governor Gregoire was going to announce on Monday that the “Climate Action & Green Jobs” bill would be a Governor’s Request Bill. This action will elevate the visibility and importance of this legislation and add to the momentum to get this this bill passed this year.

The Climate Action & Green Jobs bill is one of the 4 bills the environmental community has selected as their priorities for the 2008 Legislative Session starting Monday. The other 3 priority bills being pushed by the environmental community deal with “Local Solutions to Global Warming“, “Evergreen Cities” and “Local Farms – Healthy Kids

from the Priorities for a Healthy Washington’s Legislative Proposal:

“The Climate Action and Green Jobs bill creates a structure and timeline for implementing the state’s global warming pollution reduction goals, and creates a program to prepare Washington workers for good jobs in the clean energy economy, providing pathways out of poverty for lower-income communities.

Accountability: The bill would make the Washington State Department of Ecology responsible for achieving the state’s emissions reduction goals. It would direct Ecology to develop responsible limits on all major sources of global warming pollution in the state.
Opportunity: The bill would create a competitive grants-based training program, to be funded and implemented in 2009, that will train and transition workers to clean energy jobs.
Regional solutions: The legislature would affirm the state’s participation in developing a regional market-based pollution trading system—like the one Washington is now helping to develop with numerous other western states and Canadian provinces.
Responsibility: requires reporting by those that are responsible for the greatest amount sources of global warming pollution.”

Gregoire’s Director of the Department of Ecology, Jay Manning, was the workshop’s lunch time speaker. Manning praised the environmental community for its successful efforts in developing the Priorities for a Healthy Washington’s Agenda and noted that being selected as one of the 4 priority bills gave a piece of legislation credibility in Olympia.

Over the last 6 year’s the success rate of passing the Priorities for a Healthy Washington’s 4 bills each year has increased, going from one bill passed the first year to seeing all four bills passed last year. Part of this success Manning noted was because of the environmental community’s accepting that sometimes compromise needed to be made. It’s willingness to be flexible has elevated the credibility of the environmental community in Olympia.

Manning noted that while the ideal solution to act on global warming was a national response, in the absence of action by the Bush Administration, it is necessary for the states and local cities and counties to do what they can.

Manning said that unlike other states, Washington State with its immense hydro power resources does not have a major CO2 problem from coal plants. Instead 50% of our CO2 emissions come from cars and other vehicles. This is why he said the state is appealing in Federal Court the recent decision by Bush’s EPA Administrator to deny Washington State and other states the ability to implement the California fuel emissions standards proposed as part of Clean Car Legislation enacted in some 16 states.

One goal will be to reduce the vehicle miles traveled (VMT)in the state. This includes trying to make fewer trips, driving less, increasing density and better planning to concentrate development with localized services, infilling undeveloped areas, and stopping building more roads.

Another component will be to continue to expand strong programs to reduce waste which Washington State leads the nation in. Recycling and waste reduction programs reduce the production of greenhouse gases.

There is a potential threat, Manning said, that there could be an further attempts by the Federal government to limit state action on global warming. He said the current efforts by state and local governments are concentrated on the West Coast, New England, and Wisconsin and Minnesota. He said that the recent West Coast Climate Initiative held in Portland Oregon had some 370 people in attendance and another 400 on the phone.

It is obvious that Manning and Governor Gregoire are already working hard on dealing with global climate change by trying to get Washington State to take action to reduce the production of greenhouse gases. This is not something you would have seen from Republican Dino Rossi if he had been elected.

And if you are concerned about global warming Republican Dino Rossi is not someone you want to see become Governor in the future. The Sierra Club lobbyist in Olympia, Craig Engelking, noted that when Rossi was in the Legislature he “voted for a bill that would have said Washington’s environmental standards could not exceed federal minimums.”

That means that if Rossi was Governor now he would not be appealing the recent decision by the EPA to deny Washington State the ability to implement California’s Clean Car standards, which exceed the Federal standards.

In addition, Engelking said “Rossi voted against a bill to create a privately funded Washington climate center that would research simple and innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Washington. The center would have also helped identify what types of impacts climate change could have on Washington and what we can do about it. (SB 5674, 2001)

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