How will climate change bills impact jobs, families?

  • By Reps. Kirk Pearson and Dan Kristiansen
  • Friday, February 6, 2009 11:51am
  • OpinionCommentary

These past few years, we’ve heard stories and watched television shows and movies dedicated to the theory of climate change. As representatives in the Washington Legislature, we’re proud to serve a district that includes some of the most pristine areas in our country.

So, any legislative action that could enhance such beauty is given strong consideration. However, this legislative session we are concerned about several bills that could have a direct impact on our way of life, jobs and pocketbooks. One measure proposed by the governor, House Bill 1819, also called the “cap and trade” bill, is of particular concern to us.

This bill is the result of our state’s participation in the Western Climate Initiative, which tentatively includes six states and four Canadian provinces. As part of this initiative, state agencies have noted that some industries would have to be destroyed with the hope that other “green-job” industries would be created. In our view, it’s just too risky in this economy to lose a single job, particularly our blue-collar jobs that support most families in our state.

We oppose this “cap and trade” legislation because it has the potential to further erode our job base and the family budget. The idea of this system is to “cap” the amount of carbon emitted in the state from any business producing more than a certain amount. Businesses would be required to purchase allowances at auction from a Western Climate Initiative entity to allow them to emit levels of carbon over this amount.

If businesses did not have enough allowances to cover their emissions, they would have to pay hefty fines. If businesses did not use all of their allowances, they could sell them on an open market.

If all this seems confusing, that’s because it is. First, we would be one of only a few states to implement cap and trade. So when we encounter problems, we would basically be on our own. This would put our state at a serious competitive disadvantage with other states. It also means businesses that could not withstand these heavy-handed regulations would likely fold or have to move to a non-cap-and-trade state, such as Idaho.

The fact is Washington is already one of the cleanest states in the nation and the world. Our state already has some of the most stringent and effective environmental protection laws. Even if we completely eliminated all Washington’s carbon emissions, it would only amount to three-tenths of one percent of global emissions. Costly restrictions would not apply to items imported to our state from countries that are major polluters around the globe, which seems to be the biggest problem needing a fix right now.

In addition, this bill would create financial hardships for families already stretched thin. The federal Congressional Budget Office estimates the effects of a cap and trade system would cost low-income families at least $750 a year. We cannot support any bill that would take money out of your pocket, raise taxes, increase fees or kill jobs in this fragile economy.

The risks in this legislation are just too great right now. As legislators who will be asked to support House Bill 1819, we need more information from state agencies on the number of businesses that would be impacted under the cap and tax system the bill creates. We also need to know what so-called “green jobs” the bill would purport to create would be and where. Most important, we need all the facts and figures on what costs consumers would face because of the taxes the bill authorizes.

Our concern is this kind of legislation is not sincere about making Washington cleaner and greener. Instead, it’s about money and power — making state government larger and more intrusive while reducing the green in your wallet.

Families can’t afford big-government tax-and-spend policies, particularly in the current economic situation the state faces. It’s time for state government to get its priorities straight and focus on retaining the jobs we have, helping businesses grow and create jobs, and ensuring a sustainable future for our families.

Reps. Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe) and Dan Kristiansen (R-Snohomish) represent the 39th Legislative District.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Randall Tharp’s month recovery coins after battling a fentanyl addiction.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Fentanyl crisis should force rethinking of approach

A continuum of care, that includes treatment in jails, is imperative, says a journalist and author.

RGB version
Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, Sept. 27

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Sen. June Robinson, D-Everett, left, and Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, right, embrace after a special session to figure out how much to punish drug possession on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, in Olympia, Wash. Without action, Washington's drug possession law will expire July 1, leaving no penalty in state law and leaving cities free to adopt a hodgepodge of local ordinances.  (Karen Ducey/The Seattle Times via AP)
Editorial: Robinson smart choice to head Senate budget panel

A 10-year legislative veteran, the Everett senator displays a mastery of legislation and negotiation.

Migrants trying to reach the United States, set up a camp in Lajas Blancas, Darien province, Panama, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
Fact check: No, migrants aren’t getting $2,200 a month from U.S.

A viral tweet by Rep. Lauren Boebert is a zombie claim that started in 2006 in Canada.

Burke: Prevent a shutdown? GOP has squirrels it must chase

House Republicans simply don’t have the time to do their job. Pushing false narratives is tough work.

PUD’s smart meters should allow for lower rates

Finally! After more than 15 years of study and evaluation, the Snohomish… Continue reading

Everett Council, Dist. 6: Chatters won’t vote no to city’s needs

Regarding the recent story about donations to Everett City Council candidate Scott… Continue reading

Harrop: Romney’s third-party plan could backfire, aid Trumpists

If he wants a sane GOP in the future, those in charge now have to lose and lose big in 2024.

Comment: Even nearing ‘peak oil,’ its decline won’t be steep

The debate over when the peak will be hit is a distraction from the need to transition from fossil fuels.

Most Read