March 28, 2019

Fitzgibbon shares passion, motivation to address climate change

By: Andrew Lenderman   Comments: 0
Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, chair of the House Environment and Energy Committee, speaks to AWB members during the March 28, 2019 Lobby Lunch. (Photo: Brian Mittge/AWB)

The top legislative priority for state Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, is to reduce Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions, he told business leaders Thursday at AWB’s final 2019 Lobby Lunch meeting of the year. Sometimes that includes finding common ground with the employer community, and sometimes not.

Fitzgibbon, who chairs the House Environment and Energy Committee, has worked to pass a low carbon fuel standards bill that would impact transportation fuels this session. Advocates say it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and spur demand for more biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel, as well as electric cars.

Opponents are concerned about the potentially steep rise in fuel prices, which would impact businesses and consumers across the state. AWB is opposed to the bill. In California, which has adopted a similar measure, the cost of gasoline has increased by 16 cents per gallon and the cost of diesel by 16.6 cents per gallon and is predicted to rise by 46 cents per gallon by 2030 and 50 cents per gallon for diesel fuel, the California Energy Commission and the California Legislative Analyst’s Office report.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee on Thursday, April 4.

Fitzgibbon said he’s been asked if it’s possible take a nonregulatory approach to reducing harmful emissions.

“When we can, we should,” he said. But sometimes a regulatory approach is needed. Fitzgibbon highlighted the success of the effort to phase out chemicals the harmed the ozone layer in the 1980s, including the 1987 Montreal Protocol.

“That was a major success, and that was a success that wasn’t just voluntary,” he said. He also highlighted the amendments to the federal Clean Air Act in 1990 to fight acid rain.

Fitzgibbon said he hears the business community’s concern about the cost of some of these environmental regulations.

“I do think that we can find paths forward on climate change, which is about a, you know, couple orders of magnitude greater challenge than the ozone hole or acid rain, because fossil fuels are a part of every part of our lives,” he said. “...It’s a very difficult problem to solve.”

Thursday’s Lobby Lunch was the final of the 2019 legislative session. Over the past two months Washington’s employer community has connected with leaders from both political parties, as well as state elected officials and directors from the governor’s office.

Check out an archive of this year’s discussion here, and video from Thursday’s event below.