Obama’s regulatory cap-and-trade does not work for Washington state

Jul 03, 2014
Clean Energy

Op-ed by Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Published in the Seattle Times

Washington state is one of the cleanest, greenest states in the country, and its use of renewable energy is a source of great pride.

But drastic energy regulations could cause Washington families to see higher energy bills. And those higher bills, coupled with a weakened economy, would hurt moms and dads already struggling to make ends meet.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced proposals that would require Washington state to cut its carbon emissions by a staggering 72 percent — a rate higher than anywhere else in the nation.

While coal makes up just over 3 percent of the state’s energy production, the stringent methodology behind the EPA’s calculations treats Washington as a top emitter. The state’s residents are being penalized, even though Washington is leading the way when it comes to clean energy. It just doesn’t add up.

In considering national carbon emissions, the EPA proposal disregards the great strides states like Washington have made to increase renewable energy. In fact, the majority of Washington state’s power comes from renewable sources — 70 percent of electricity needs are met by clean, renewable hydropower. But still, these one-size-fits-all regulations hit Washington state families the hardest.

Inexpensive, renewable hydropower is a competitive advantage that draws jobs to Washington state and helps expand opportunities for everyone here. Yet, when the EPA calculates renewable energy levels, it does not include hydropower in its baseline calculations, overlooking one of the cleanest and most abundant energy sources available.

Hydropower is the nation’s leading renewable resource, and the EPA should fully acknowledge this. The EPA has encouraged states to meet its goals by increasing renewable energy production. Washington state has already done that.

It is counterintuitive that Washington state, which has one of the largest renewable energy portfolios, is hardest hit by the EPA’s regulations. Ultimately, these are redundant policies that disregard the innovation being developed today.

Instead, the U.S. should be looking to the horizon to expand cleaner energy opportunities. That’s why I introduced the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act, which was signed into law last August.

This law streamlines the permitting process for small hydropower projects perhaps in streams or irrigation canals by cutting red tape so this affordable energy supply can more quickly power communities. The time is now to encourage these innovative approaches to energy generation and look to the future for new opportunities — not push policies that would crush the state’s workforce, make life harder for hardworking families or reduce the state’s competitive advantage.

There are alternative approaches to take, and I am committed to working with my colleagues on and off the House Energy and Commerce Committee to pull back these regulations that disproportionately impact our state.

As one in four people continues to struggle with long-term unemployment, our country must make every effort to pursue innovative energy opportunities that are pro-job and will continue spurring America’s energy renaissance — a renaissance that will strengthen the economy for the future and leave a stronger America for our children and grandchildren.

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