The House Ecology and Parks Committee passed House Bill 1819 today, the so-called cap and trade legislation.
Rep. Shelly Short, the ranking Republican on the committee, called the bill a "job killer" and said it will cause many businesses – and the jobs they provide – to leave the state.
"We heard testimony in committee from companies that are literally waiting to see what we do with this bill," said Short, R-Addy. "They are on the verge of packing it in and moving to Idaho and other states. This is also going to raise utility rates and the costs of goods and services for our families."
House Bill 1819 is legislation requested by the governor. It is the result of Washington’s participation in the Western Climate Initiative, which currently includes six states and four Canadian provinces. The legislation seeks to limit the amount of carbon emitted in the state from manufacturing and energy-producing businesses. Companies that fail to comply face massive fines, can purchase carbon credits at auction, or pursue emission offsets.
"Washington is already one of the cleanest state’s in the nation and only accounts for one-third of one percent of global greenhouse gasses," Short said. "It seems to me that we are taking an unnecessary lead and an unnecessary risk with this legislation. What kind of disadvantages are we creating for our businesses if they have to compete regionally and globally with companies that don’t have to abide by these strict regulations? How are we providing certainty for our businesses when we don’t know the costs associated with this legislation?
"This is precisely the wrong time to be adding punitive and costly regulations on our employers," Short said.
House Republicans proposed 13 amendments in committee, all of which – save one – were rejected along party lines.
The one House Republican amendment that was adopted requires the Office of Financial Management to report on the legislation’s impact to Washington ports.
"We have a very trade dependent state," Short said. "Apart from the concerns we have with businesses, utility bills and agriculture, we also need to make sure we’re not adversely affecting our ports and our ability to import and export the goods upon which our economy thrives."
Short said the biggest surprise of the committee meeting was a Democrat amendment that removed the term "green jobs" from the bill.
"We’ve heard so much talk about green jobs this year and the creation of green jobs. We offered an amendment that would specifically define ‘green jobs’ because there seems to be an awful lot of discrepancy as to what qualifies as one," Short said. "That amendment was defeated, but shortly afterward the Democrats offered an amendment to take the term ‘green jobs’ out of the bill, so I think our point was made."
# # #