New Clean Air Rule proposal could be costly for consumers

While scores of truckers, loggers and other stakeholders testified this week against ESHB 1110 which would create a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS), its sponsor Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34) has also sponsored a new version of previous Clean Air Rule legislation that would give the state Department of Ecology broad authority to authorize an LCFS—and more.

The proposal, HB 2957, was introduced on March 2, the same day it received a public hearing in the House Appropriations Committee and given a “do pass” recommendation. …

Stakeholders opposed to the bill raised objections regarding how it still gives Ecology carte blanche to adopt its own carbon emission policy, with some warning it could ignite another legal battle that last year concluded with a State Supreme Court decision striking down most of the original Clean Air Rule adopted by Ecology.

“It would be difficult to overstate the impact this bill will have on Washington’s energy producing industries – as well as on consumers,” Western States Petroleum Association representative Greg Hanon told the committee. …

Hanon said the bill as written is so broad it would allow Ecology to implement an LCFS in addition to the Clean Air Rule and gives the state agency too much control. “We strongly recommend that you retain your authority over policy issues that extend beyond the Clean Air Rule.”

He added that the major concerns with the bill “can be addressed by simple amendments that provide appropriate legislative direction. Failure by the legislature to provide this guidance results in a rule where implementation will be challenging, at best, and certainly expensive for consumers.”

The potential costs to consumers was underscored by Puget Sound Energy lobbyist Brandon Houskeeper, who said the original 2016 rule would have increased rates for 150,000 customers by 12 percent. …

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