Clean Energy Solutions
Updated May 3, 2013
Clean Energy Solutions was a package of proposals that together would reduce climate pollution, power our economy forward, and put Washingtonians to work. It consisted of the Governor's Climate Action Bill (SB 5802), making solar energy more affordable and accessible (HB 1106), improving equipment efficiency (SHB 1017), and closing a $41 million tax loophole for Big Oil.
While, thanks to the efforts of Governor Inslee and climate champions around the state, we were able to pass the Governor's Climate Action bill, the two solutions bills (on solar energy and equipment efficiency) fell prey to lack of support and the partisan gridlock plaguing the legislature. The fate of the last part of the priority, closing the Big Oil Loophole, hangs in the balance as we head into special session.
More information on how each portion of the Clean Energy Solutions Priority fared during the 2013 regular session:
· The Climate Action law (SB 5802) passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support and was signed into law on April 2, 2013. It convenes the Governor and legislative leaders to develop policies to ensure we achieve our climate pollution limits for 2020 and beyond (set in statute in 2008 by Environmental Priority legislation).
· HB 1017, a commonsense, non-controversial Equipment Efficiency bill, would have cut $60 million a year from Washingtonians’ utility bills. It passed the House with bi-partisan support. But, instead of taking the opportunity to save consumer dollars and reduce climate pollution, legislators let it die in the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications committee.
· Expanding Solar Power (HB 1106 and SB 5707) would have taken our state’s solar economy to the next level by clarifying that solar companies can own, operate, and maintain the solar panels they install on customers’ roofs. This action would have made solar energy more affordable for more Washingtonians. This bill was not brought before either chamber for a vote, bypassing an opportunity to grow the clean energy economy in Washington.
· STILL ALIVE: Closing the Big Oil Tax Loophole would redirect $41 million to education instead of into the pockets of Big Oil. The House closed this loophole in the final days of regular session as part of ESHB 2038, concerning funding for basic education and higher education. This “accidental loophole” was passed in 1949, before any oil refineries operated in Washington state. Now refineries owned by big, out-of-state oil companies receive 98% of the benefit of the loophole. The Big Oil Loophole closure was included in Governor Inslee’s and the House’s budget proposals, but not in the Senate’s proposed budget. It is still very much part of the budget debate in special session, but it will require the voices of people throughout the state speaking up for it to drown out the voices of Big Oil executives concerned about their profits.
Washington Environmental Council
kerry (at) wecprotects.org