Environmental advocates lost one and won one in Olympia today as the state Senate took up amendments to its $890 million revenue package.

The Loss: The Senate passed Democratic Sen. Phil Rockefeller's (D-23) proposal to limit the sales tax exemption for renewable energy projects. Rolling back the exemption, which applied to things like wind power projects and had just been renewed last year, was worth about $7.8 million to the state.

An amendment to stop the Senate from curtailing the green tax exemption was sponsored by a Republican, Sen. Jim Honeyford (R-15), but it lost 24-23 with only five Democrats in support. No Seattle Democrats voted to preserve the renewable energy exemption.

While it may seem strange to see the GOP line up with the hippie environmentalists (after all, it was Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire who extended the tax last year), the GOP tried to save the tax break today because most of the renewable energy projects are in central and eastern Washington, GOP turf like Sen. Honeyford's 15th district, just south of Yakima.

The Win (and this one played out along more traditional Democrat and Republican lines): The Senate rejected GOP Sen. Dale Brandland's (R-42) amendment to preserve a coal industry tax break, approving Democratic Sen. Eric Oemig's (D-45) proposal to end the $4 million tax break for TransAlta's coal-fired power plant in Centralia—the largest single-source of greenhouse gas pollution in the state.

Note: The Senate will vote on the revenue package as a whole tomorrow, including the 0.3 percent sales tax which survived an amendment by Republican Sen. Jenea Holmquist (R-13) to take the sales tax out of the revenue plan.
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