OLYMPIA -- A special task force to figure out how well the state is doing at reducing greenhouse gas emissions got strong support from the Senate today after it was changed to get to work faster.
A critic, however, said the Legislature was paying attention to "pseudo science."
Senate Bill 5802 would set up a task force with a representative from each of the Legislature's four caucuses and the governor, hire a consultant and determine the best ways to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions and other gases thought to contribute to global climate change.
The Legislature passed a law in 2008 to reduce such emissions, and this bill would basically answer the question: "How's that working for us?"
The task force would also look at different options for cutting down the emissions, what they would cost and suggest priorities designed to give the state the best bang for the buck.
"I want to take the religion out of carbon," said Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, who added he didn't vote for the original law in 2008, but it's in place now.
Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, said the state is particularly vulnerable on climate issues because it can be easily affected by declining snow packs and rising sea levels. The task force won't be answering the question "is it happening?" as "what are we going to do about it?"
But Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, said supporters were producing "a long of pseudo science" on possible problems with global temperatures.
"I have no problem with the earth warming," he said, because carbon dioxide encourages plant growth. "You're making an assumption that it is carbon dioxide that's causing the earth to warm, it could be the other way around."
The increase in temperatures could be part of natural patterns, and causing more of the gas to be released from the oceans, he said.
The task force would be set up in mid May, rather than mid July, making it more likely a report would be available for next year's legislative session. The bill passed on a 37-12 vote.