The environmental community has been reluctant to talk to PubliCola about the tussle they're having with Senate Democratic leadership over Sen. Chris Marr's (D-6, Spokane) bill. The bill would amend I-937, the voter-approved initiative that said utilities must secure 15 percent of their power supply from renewable resources like wind and solar by 2020.
The amendments would allow efficiency improvements in hydro generation—not considered a renewable resource by I-937 because the voters wanted to encourage the production of new alternatives—to count toward the goal.
We first reported that the legislature was queuing up bills to undo I-937 in late January. Since then, the House version died—the sponsor, Rep. John McCoy (D-38, Marysville, Everett)—pulled it.
The senate version, however, was "exec'd" out to the rules committee on February 23 with a "do-pass" recommendation from the Democratic majority.
While environmentalists are coy about talking to the press about their standoff with Sen. Marr, the Democratic Majority Whip, they did include the bill on their internal "Hot List" today, identifying Sen. Marr's bill with a red "Oppose."
SSB 5840: Modifying the energy independence act. POSITION: OPPOSE • In its current form, the bill severely weakens I-937, the Clean Energy Act, by including current provisions capping development at load growth, grandfathering in existing resources to count as eligible renewables, and allowing conservation to substitute for renewable resources. Such amendments essentially eliminate all of the new renewables that would have been produced through the citizens initiative. •