Still Time to Weigh In on WA's Climate Action Plan

oilrefineryMore than 500 people showed up at a Seattle hearing on Oct. 23 about what should be in Washington's new climate action plan - and if you weren't one of them, there's still time to comment. The state is trying to cut carbon pollution, which is challenging when much of it comes from out-of-state.

Coal-fired power, mostly generated in Montana, makes up 14 percent of the state's energy mix, but 80 percent of the greenhouse gas pollution.

Doug Howell, state director, Sierra Club "Beyond Coal" Campaign, said that pollution can be reduced with more wind and solar power, and by outfitting buildings to use less energy.

"We have 1,400 average megawatts of coal that comes into this state, and we're at this crossroads: We're going to double down on that coal, or we're going to move to a cleaner Washington state - and with that will come thousands of new jobs."

The Sierra Club has released a new study that says the solar, wind and energy-efficiency industries all put more people to work in Washington than coal power.

The Climate Executive Legislative Workgroup (CLEW) that is crafting the state's climate action plan is taking comments online through Wednesday, Oct. 30.

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien), CLEW member, says all options are on the table, including more research and development, better transportation planning, and the possibility of a carbon tax on polluters. But whatever they decide, Fitzgibbon said it needs to grow the state's economy as well as curb pollution, adding that energy-efficiency and renewables will do that.

"It's exciting that we can meet our environmental goals at the same time as we fully develop the kinds of energy that we have in abundance here in Washington state. That's really important for the public debate, as we move forward with our plans to meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals," Fitzgibbon said.

People at the CLEW hearings in Seattle and Spokane also suggested nixing the coal export terminals proposed for the coast to ship coal to China. The workgroup's next public meeting is Dec. 6 in Olympia.

The full report, "Employment Effects of Investing in Select Electricity Resources in Washington State," is available at www.synapse-energy.com.

Comments on the climate action plan may be filed online by emailing them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Information about the workgroup is at www.climateworkgroup.ecy.wa.gov. October 28, 2013/Chris Thomas, Washington News Service

IMAGE/ Some of Washington's electricity is generated in Montana at the Colstrip coal-fired power plant, co-owned by several utility companies. Photo credit: Ambimb on Flickr