OLYMPIA – In an effort to fight climate change, corporations producing or transporting fuel would be required to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, under a bill being considered by a Senate committee.
Transportation fuels are the largest contributor to the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, the bill’s sponsor, told the Senate Transportation Committee.
“We are not prepared for the climate disruption to our economy and our society that we will experience if we don’t take strong steps to reduce our disruption to the atmosphere,” he said.
The Department of Ecology would be expected to establish a program by 2022 to limit fuel greenhouse gas emissions to 10% below 2017 emission levels by 2028, according to the bill.
The hearing on the bill drew 109 people, with some of them saying it would raise gas prices by 57 cents per gallon.
Brandon Miller, a trucker from Forks, said the bill will take their ability to live and work away. Small outfits employing 10 or 60 people will be driven out of business.
“I understand pollution’s a big issue but this isn’t the way to go about fixing it,” he said. “There needs to be a better way.”
Stacy Mills, a truck driver for Colburn Timber, said the bill’s effects would trickle down and affect him even though he’s not an owner or operator.
“We work our butts off to further the American Dream,” he said. “I still believe in that, you know. Wholeheartedly.”
Others who supported the bill emphasized the cost of not cutting greenhouse gases. The effects of climate change affect working people, low-wage workers and communities of color the most, said Samantha Grad, political legislative director for United Food and Commercial Workers 21.
A large percentage of the union’s members are people of color who live and work in areas with higher levels of air toxicity from diesel fuel, she said.
“Climate change is an equity issue,” Grad said. “We can no longer kick the can down the road.”
Mo McBroom, the director of government relations for the Nature Conservancy in Washington, said, “Every year that we wait this becomes more difficult and more expensive.”
But it may have to wait another year. Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, said it’s “not likely” the bill will move out of committee, and the Legislature is due to adjourn March 12.
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