Climate panel divide: cap-and-trade vs. nuclear power

  • By Jerry Cornfield
  • Thursday, January 23, 2014 9:24am
  • Local News

The partisan divide on how best to curb greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change became clear Wednesday in separate reports issued by Democratic and Republican members of the Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup.

You can find the reports here.

Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, called for capping carbon emissions and relying on “market mechanisms” to meet the cap, reducing use of electricity generated by coal-powered facilities, increasing incentives to construct energy efficient buildings and accelerating use of cleaner fuels.

As to the central point of their recommendations, they argue implementing a cap and trade strategy outlined in the 2009 Western Climate Initiative could create 19,300 jobs in the state.

“We believe action is needed now,” they wrote. “Washington must reduce carbon emissions in the most cost-effective way possible, and the longer we wait, the more expensive the carbon reductions necessary to reach a safe level will. Thus it is in the economic interest of Washingtonians to act now.”

Republican Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, and Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, offered a far different approach for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Their recommendations include pursuing electricity from nuclear power rather than fossil fuels, more incentives for producing hydroelectric power, encouraging conservation and promoting development of less energy-consuming technologies.

They steered wide of the approach pushed by Democrats saying it will do more economic harm than good.

“Our concern is that policies which limit the emissions of GHG (greenhouse gas) such as a cap-and-trade system, a carbon tax, and a low carbon fuel standard, would inevitably raise the price of gasoline, home heating, and all consumer goods relied upon by the people of Washington, while potentially driving businesses to relocate to states which do not impose such costs.”

They said nuclear power generation is “the only viable option for large-scale reductions in GHG emissions in the electricity sector.”

While the two reports differ on policy proposals, they did agree the work group should continue meeting this year.

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