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Labor-backed energy facility permitting bill passes Senate

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


OLYMPIA (March 4, 2022) — A legislative priority for Washington’s labor movement in 2022 was to promote clean energy production by reforming the state’s siting and permitting process for new energy facilities. On Thursday, House-approved legislation to accomplish these reforms passed the Senate, 29-20. It now returns to the House for concurrence with amendments and then will head to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for signature.

In recent years, the 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. But 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) and passed by both the House and Senate, will improve and expand 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 (EFSEC) 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.

●  Clarifies where public comment opportunities exist within the EFSEC process and how environmental justice is considered in the council’s decision making.

The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO supports HB 1812 as part of its Workers’ Recovery Agenda for the 2022 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.

Get the latest updates on WSLC-supported legislation here: Where pro-worker bills stand in Olympia.

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