SEATTLE (AP) — Gov. Jay Inslee stood with the governors of California and Oregon and a Canadian province official several weeks ago and agreed to put a price on greenhouse gas pollution and mandate the use of cleaner-burning fuels.
Environmental groups cheered the news, and the climate deal got wide media attention. But the governor faces a tougher sell in Olympia as he tries in coming months to persuade lawmakers to back some of his more ambitious carbon-reducing ideas.
A bipartisan group formed by the Legislature has been meeting since spring to recommend cost-effective strategies. With a Dec. 31 deadline to finalize a report, there appears to be little agreement yet on strategies.
"We've reached a point in the process where folks' philosophical differences are becoming clearer than ever," Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, said last month. "At the (Nov. 6) meeting, it seemed clear that it's going to be very difficult for us to get a majority vote for any meaningful recommendation."
The five-member group, which includes the governor as a non-voting member, meets again Friday. A public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13 in Olympia. Any recommendation needs approval from at least three panelists. The group is split along party lines on many ideas.
Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith said Wednesday the governor is confident the group will come up with some productive recommendations. Inslee favors some ambitious strategies, including capping carbon pollution, phasing out coal-fired electricity, investing in clean energy research and developing lower carbon fuel standards.
A 2008 state law called for Washington to return to 1990 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2020, and for greater reductions beyond that. In 2010, Washington state emitted 96 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, up from about 88.4 million a decade earlier.
Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, one of two Republicans on the group, has noted there's no penalty for not meeting those climate goals.