“Poison pill” amendments could kill LCFS bill

“Poison pill” amendments could kill LCFS bill

The state Senate voted 27-20 on April 8 in favor of E3SHB 1091, a measure which would create a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) program in Washington state. Although on the surface the bill seems all but sure to reach Governor Inslee’s desk for signing, various amendments incorporated on the Senate floor may ultimately kill the fourth and latest LCFS proposal if the House refuses to concur.

Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44), chair of the Senate Transportation Committee where prior proposals had failed to advance, is among those opposed to the legislation. This time around, the bill was sent to the Senate Ways and Means Committee and then to the Rules Committee, bypassing the Transportation Committee.

However, now several senate Democrats who voted in favor of the bill have made it clear that various changes made to the House-approved version must remain if they are to vote again in support of the proposal.

In a joint letter, Sens. Mark Mullet (D-5), Bob Hasegawa (D-11), Annette Cleveland (D-49), Kevin Van De Wege (D-24) and Steve Conway (D-29) wrote that these changes were “integral to our support for the bill” and “must stay in the final bill to earn our support.”

Those changes are:

  • Legislative review of the LCFS program after it has reached 10 percent implementation;
  • Requires a transportation package of $500 million or more per biennium is to be passed before the program can start;
  • Freezes the compliance standard in 2028 and after if a new biofuel facility generating 60 million gallons or more of biofuels annually has not received all needed permits; and
  • Freezes the compliance standard in 2026 unless there’s a 25-percent increase of in-state biofuel production.

Many of those changes are intended to address issues raised repeatedly in public hearings regarding available clean fuel supplies, the risk of increased gas prices, and the impact to various industries such as farming and trucking. Other critics argue that the program would mostly benefit out-of-state biofuel producers.

Signing in support of the joint letter were various building and trades union representatives, including:

  • Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Mark Riker;
  • Washington State Association of the United Association of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry Government Affairs Director Neil Hartman;
  • Washington & Northern Idaho District Council of Laborers Political & Legislative Director Billy Wallace Jr.;
  • Northwest Carpenters Union Political Director Matt Swanson; and
  • International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 302 Political and Communications Representative Josh Swanson.

Other amendments added to the bill in Senate committees changed the implementation rate, which originally was twice as fast as California’s program.

E3SHB 1091 will be referred back to the House for concurrence.

TJ Martinell is a native Washingtonian and award-winning journalist. Born and raised in Bellevue, he’s been involved in the news industry since working at his high school newspaper.

His investigative reporting for various community newspapers in the Puget Sound region has been recognized by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and the Society for Professional Journalists.

A graduate of Eastern Washington University, he has a B.A. in journalism and was the news editor of EWU’s student university newspaper.

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