First hearing on governor’s proposed low carbon fuel standard. Concerns raised about impact of escalating fuel prices.

The first hearing on a proposed low carbon fuel standard was held January 15. The Lens reports,

As with last year, efforts to reduce Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions is prompting several bills as part of Governor Jay Inslee’s “green energy” proposal – and the topic took up much of his State of the State speech. One of those proposals seeks to reduce carbon intensity in transportation fuels through a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS), though trucking industry and business group leaders say the standard would increase gas prices significantly in a state that already has the second-highest gas tax.

Sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-36), House Bill 1110 (HB1110) seeks to reduce fuel carbon intensity by 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. The bill is a modified version of a similar proposal made last year, but failed to clear the House floor.

Reporter TJ Martinell covered the hearing (TVW coverage here), noting the measure had support from several local government officials, including King County Executive Dow Constantine. 

However, the proposal is opposed by the Association of Washington Business, the state’s chamber of commerce. Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis told panel members that it would renege on a provision in the 2015 Connecting Washington transportation package indirectly prohibiting a LCFS. The $16 billion package added $.12 to the state gas tax to pay for infrastructure projects.

However, that package would not have had the votes needed to pass if the provision against an LCFS not been included, Ennis argued. “A deal’s a deal. We want to honor the commitments that were made in the revenue package.”

He added that “raising fuel prices places incredible pressures on our economy, increasing the costs of virtually all consumer goods.”

We reported on the 2015 LCFS controversy, which dragged on into July. On July 29, 2015, we wrote,

Governor Jay Inslee has apparently decided to address climate change through stiffer enforcement of current lawsrather than triggering the transportation “poison pill” by implementing a low carbon fuel standard by executive authority.

From The Lens,

Speaking in opposition to the bill, Western States Petroleum Association Northwest Legislative Affairs and Climate Policy Director Jessica Spiegel told state lawmakers that LCFSs “are costly to consumer, not cost effective for emission reductions and not workable.” The non-profit trade association represents petroleum companies in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

Spiegel also argued that California’s eight-year LCFS program has added roughly $.13 cents to every gallon of fuel.  “No reason to expect it to be less in Washington.”

The Seattle Times reported yesterday of former California Gov. Jerry Brown’s visit to Olympia to promote Gov. Inslee’s climate change proposals.

Brown’s visit comes as Gov. Jay Inslee, after years of seeing his proposals to the Legislature on climate change become stalled, is pushing his latest package to reduce carbon emissions…

Inslee’s proposals this year would phase out fossil-fuel power from electric utilities by 2045, propose a clean-fuels standard for vehicle emissions, recommend the gradual elimination of “super-pollutant” hydrofluorocarbons found in air conditioning, add more electric-vehicle incentives and enact stricter energy-efficiency regulations for buildings.

Asked what he could learn from Brown, Inslee said: “He talked about the power of humility. Which I think was intriguing.”

Last month, AWB and the Associated Press reported on the governor’s unveiling of his climate change initiatives. Watch for much more on these proposals in the coming weeks.