Energy facility permitting needs upgrade to meet climate goals

HB 1812 would speed state’s development of critical infrastructure needed to reduce emissions


OLYMPIA (Jan. 25, 2022) — In recent years, the Washington State Legislature has passed a series of laws to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by mandating a transition to carbon-free energy production, capping and pricing carbon emissions, and requiring low-carbon transportation fuels.

However, the infrastructure necessary to achieve the policies is sorely lacking. That’s because the siting and permitting process for new energy facilities, and the manufacturing supply chain necessary to build those facilities, often stymies their construction.

HB 1812, sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Seattle), proposes the improvement and expansion of state siting and permitting processes to speed the development of this critical infrastructure, while preserving the protective nature of our environmental regulations and ensuring tribal governments and community stakeholders are respected. The bill:

●  Establishes the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council as a standalone agency so it is adequately funded to process more project proposals.

●  Adds additional technologies to the streamlined, state-level siting process, such as renewable and green hydrogen, renewable energy storage, and clean energy product manufacturing facilities.

●  Reduces uncertainty by defining issues before adjudication processes begin (commonly referred to as a “raise or waive” provision).

●  Provides pre-application assistance to potential applicants, including timely outreach to tribes, and to state and local government agencies, identifying affected stakeholders, and highlighting potential challenges or missing information before an application is submitted.

●  Establishes processes for tribal engagement to promote early communication, and improved government-to-government consultation.

The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO supports HB 1812 and believes these reforms will promote clean energy production in Washington. It could also attract manufacturing facilities that build industrial scale batteries, electric and clean fuel vehicles, and the carbon-free electricity storage necessary to make a clean grid responsive to consumer demand. HB 1812 will accomplish all this while creating more job opportunities for workers in construction and manufacturing.

HB 1812 is being heard this morning at 8 a.m. House Committee on Environment & Energy (watch it on TVW), and is scheduled for executive action on Thursday.

The WSLC is the largest union organization in Washington, representing the interests of some 550,000 rank-and file members in more than 600 different unions. See its Workers’ Recovery Agenda for the 2022 legislative session and follow those issues’ progress in the State Government section of The Stand.

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