Hello Board Members,
Here’s a short overview of the discussion during this week’s January teleconference. Please reach out with any questions.
AWB Climate Change Effort Overview:
Gary Chandler, Vice President Government Affairs, and Brandon Housekeeper, Government Affairs Director, for the Association of Washington Business (AWB) provided the board with an assessment of the climate change policy debate in Olympia. Highlights included:
- Chandler handicapped the chances for Governor Inslee’s cap and trade proposal passing as slim to none. Noting that the proposal may be passed out of committee but would not pass in the senate.
- The Governor’s endgame is likely to put something on the ballot in 2016. The AWB stood up the Washington Climate Collaborative with this long-term concern in mind. The collaborative is working to bring together a broad coalition of business leaders to begin building consensus against a ballot proposal. Some key findings and conclusions from these initial efforts include:
- Through public polling with Quinn-Thomas Public Affairs, the collaborative found that even pro-carbon legislation individuals are less likely to support a ballot initiative if it means increased costs for energy (power and gas for space and water heat) and gasoline.
- The collaborative is pushing the message that Washington is already a very green state, and is cleaner today than it was in 1990. Furthermore, relying on funding from carbon polluters for large projects, like the Governor’s proposed transportation package, is shortsighted, as this funding should decline over time if the policy is successful and emissions are reduced.
- Climate Collaborative messaging is focused on proposing effective alternatives such as promoting increased transit and efficiency.
February Board Meeting Preview:
Cynthia Des-Brisay provided a preview of the February 26 and 27 in-person board meeting in Vancouver, BC.
Day 1 (Thursday, February 26):
- We’ll kick off with the board business meeting at the FortisBC offices downtown Vancouver from 4-5:30 pm then adjourn for dinner at The Fish House in Stanley Park.
- Fazil Mihlar, Assistant Deputy Minister, Oil and Strategic Initiatives Division, Ministry of Natural Gas Development will be on hand during the business portion of the meeting to address the BC Government’s Outreach Initiative, “Responsible Resource Development and the LNG Opportunity.” He will provide an overview of natural gas resources in British Columbia, the opportunity that LNG development presents the province and what the province is doing to explain how these resources can be developed in a sustainable way to the benefit of all British Columbians. The effort includes outreach to cities throughout the province presenting all aspects of the industry from extraction, to pipelines, to LNG plants; how the industry is regulated and what job and business opportunities are expected to arise as a result of establishing an LNG industry.
Day 2 (Friday, February 27):
- The board will take a bus 45 minutes north to the community of Squamish where the Sea-to-Sky gondola will give us a view of the Howe Sound and the Woodfibre LNG export facility site.
- On the agenda will be a discussion of the Woodfibre project and pipeline expansion efforts.
- The shuttle will take board members back to downtown and the airport, folks can expect to be at the airport by 4 pm on Friday. Cynthia did note that it’s a short drive north from Squamish to Whistler for anyone that wants to stick around for the weekend.
Legislative Activity Update:
Dan provided a brief overview of some legislative activity we’re tracking in 2015 state legislative sessions:
HB 1095: Establishes a thermal efficiency standard and promotes combined heat & power.
NWGA members signed in to the house committee hearing on the bill this week largely in support with some concerns. The bill seeks to require utilities with more than 25,000 customers to factor CHP opportunities into their IRP process, members noted that they typically do this anyway and would prefer not to be forced to via statute.
The bill also includes language for a voluntary emissions reduction program for LDCs, largely co-opted from Oregon’s SB844. NWGA members were supportive of this addition.
WUTC Chair, Dave Danner, addressed the committee in support of the bill and the voluntary emissions reduction program but with concerns over the WUTC’s ability to effectively analyze proposed emission reductions projects. Rep. Jeff Morris recommended the WUTC look to their peers in Oregon for input.
Dan will reach out to Rep. Morris regarding expanding the emissions reduction language to include criteria pollutants like PM 2.5, NOX, etc.
With the session starting up on February 2nd,a few natural gas related bills are looming:
- SB844: Members are seeking technical clarification on some facets of the existing SB844 language. This is the bill authorizing LDCs to propose voluntary emissions reduction programs and directing the OPUC to develop associated rule. The final rule was adopted by the OPUC in November, 2014. The clarifications being proposed came out of the rule making process and aren’t controversial.
- NW Natural is running a study bill that takes the line extension language from the 2014 effort we were involved in during the Washington session to see what it would look like when applied in Oregon.
- Most concerning, is a bill that attempts to place barriers around pipeline right of ways, make right of way offers public, and provide for annual easement payments. The effort is being led by constituents near the Pacific Connector pipeline and Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and could unite property-rights Republicans with anti-infrastructure Democrats in the legislature.We’ll continue to monitor as we close in on session.
A working group is developing revisions to the state’s “call before you dig law” and seems pretty close to reaching consensus. Dan’s reading of the language seems to indicate that the final policy would be similar to Oregon’s existing dig law, except oversight would go through the Idaho Lands Commission rather than the PUC. It looks like the lengthy, often painful stakeholder process will yield a pretty good result.