OLYMPIA, Wash. — When Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee got his first piece of legislation passed out of the Legislature last week, the negative sentiment among Yakima area lawmakers was nearly unanimous.
Out of the nine lawmakers from the 13th, 14th and 15th legislative districts, only Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, voted in favor of Senate Bill 5802.
The bill authorizes an outside consultant to review efforts by Washington and other states to cut carbon emissions and develop a report for the Legislature by the end of the year. The report is meant to help the state reach its target of reducing 2020 greenhouse gas emissions levels to those of 1990.
Skeptics of man-made global warming testified before a Senate committee that trying to meet such standards would have an unnecessary impact on the economy without affecting climate change. Supporters argued future costs to the state from man-made global warming could reach $10 billion, and that the bill gives the state the tools it needs to address the problem.
In a telephone interview, King was noncommittal on the causes of climate change. He said he voted for the bill because he sees benefit in drafting an objective study on the topic in the state.
“Is it as big a problem as we think it is?” King said. “Whether you think it is or not, let’s see those recommendations and whether they are based upon fact.”
King said part of his support came on the advice of Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, who chairs the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, where the bill was first heard. At a Wednesday news conference reported on by The Seattle Times, Ericksen described the bill as more of a cost-benefit analysis than a climate change bill.
King said he hopes the analysis will determine whether the state is spending its money wisely in addressing greenhouse gas emissions or whether those funds could be saved. He said he does not consider greenhouse gas emissions “a major concern.”
“But I think we have a governor who seems to be absolutely focused on that,” King said. “I thought it would be good to give him a little support, to analyze and look at the data that’s available.”