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Gregoire wants state to shrink carbon footprint

Thu., Dec. 24, 2009, midnight

Measures present opportunity to save money, says governor

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire wants state government to be carbon-neutral by 2020 and announced Wednesday that the state Department of Ecology would be the first agency to start enacting measures to lessen its carbon footprint.

Gregoire said that she has asked the head of Ecology to develop business practices and strategies toward that goal and to act as a model for other agencies, as well as for businesses and homes.

“It’s one thing for us to talk about climate change and to look at federal legislation, but if we’re not keeping our own house in order that’s a problem,” Gregoire said in a conference call with reporters. “There’s a lot of opportunity for us to save money.”

Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant said that strategies for reducing Ecology’s carbon footprint are likely to include buying electric vehicles when they are available and when the infrastructure to support them exists, increasing the use of renewable energy, increasing the elimination of waste and turning waste into resources.

“We’re going to look at what others are doing, we’ll harvest good ideas, we’ll try them out,” he said. “Change is needed, it’s coming, and it will help to show people it doesn’t have to be scary or expensive.”

Sturdevant told Gregoire that he would have a report for her by the end of January on what initial steps the agency has taken.

Gregoire recently returned from Copenhagen, Denmark, where she attended the U.N. climate summit.

The governor also announced the state’s receipt of $5 million in stimulus money to help businesses, nonprofit groups and government agencies pay for energy efficiency retrofits in residential, commercial, nonprofit and low-income housing facilities.

The Department of Commerce will distribute the money to several groups, including Avista Utilities, the cities of Bellingham and Seattle, and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.

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