Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Polar bear at the Capitol

It's Environmental Lobby Day in Olympia today, and one of the environmental community's top priority bills had a hearing this afternoon.

House Bill 1825, sponsored by Rep. Marko Liias, addresses the biggest source of energy-sector emissions in the state: coal-burning power plants. More specifically, the bill would speed up the decommissioning of the state's only coal-fired power plant, which is located in Centralia.

"Coal burning is a technology of the past," Rep. Liias said, testifying in support of his bill before the House Environment Committee this afternoon. "The reality is that the coal plant will transition."

Liias' bill does the following:

  • Transitions the plant off of coal as early as 2015, and no later than 2017, which is ahead of the already-established date of 2025 for decommissioning.
  • Provides $94 million in infrastructure funding to Lewis County, so the plant's host community can begin a fair and planned economic transition.
  • Creates a model for strengthening local communities while transitioning beyond coal to the clean energy economy of the future.

As expected, today's HB 1825 hearing drew scores of supporters and opponents, including one very large polar bear. Although observed walking around campus, the polar bear did not testify.