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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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WA Senate passes bill creating emissions task force

OLYMPIA – A new task force that would try to determine how well the state is doing at reducing greenhouse gas emissions passed the Senate with strong support Wednesday, even though one member charged his colleagues were paying attention to “pseudoscience.”

Senate Bill 5802 would set up a task force with a member 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 are we doing?

The task force would also look at the costs of different options for cutting down the emissions and suggest priorities 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 snowpacks and rising sea levels. He said the task force won’t be answering the question “Is it happening?” as much as “What are we going to do about it?”

But Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, said supporters were producing “a lot of pseudoscience” 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, causing more of the gas to be released from the oceans, he said.

The task force would be set up in mid-May, making it likely that a report would be available for next year’s legislative session.

The bill passed 37-12.

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