Rep. Mary Dye: Look beyond the electrical outlet before decimating our energy economy

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You've heard about the city dweller who was asked, “Where does your meat and food come from?” His reply: “From the grocery store.” In Eastern Washington, we know better.

These days, we wonder if our Seattle/Puget Sound environmental friends think the same when it comes to electricity. Q: “Where does your electricity come from?” A: “The electrical outlet, of course!”

This is a simplified way to say a climate change agenda pushed by Gov. Jay Inslee to eliminate the use of all fossil fuels and move to a strictly electric-based economy in the next 25 years is shortsighted.

Those who are pushing policies in the Legislature to have us plug into an electrical outlet to power everything from our cars to our backyard barbecues also wish to remove our hydroelectric dams, and coal- and gas-fired electrical generation plants, and prevent nuclear plant expansion. The justification for such policies is that they would slow global warming.

What kind of policies?

  • House Bill 1091 would create a new low-carbon fuel standard, that would require refineries to reduce the carbon content of their fuel or buy credits. These credits will be generated by electric vehicle charging infrastructure, so that gas purchasers subsidize the electrification of transportation. The policy also increases the cost of gasoline by 57 cents per gallon and diesel by 63 cents per gallon. It could be surmised proponents want to make it so expensive to own a fossil-fueled car that most drivers give up and go to electric vehicles.
  • House Bill 1075 would mandate that all vehicles involved with on-demand rideshare transportation services, such as Uber and Lyft, must be electric.
  • House Bill 1287 would force planning for public funding of electric vehicle charging stations across the state, including new building codes for residential and commercial buildings, to support electric vehicles.
  • House Bill 1084 would prohibit the use of natural gas in newly constructed homes and buildings, including for space heating, furnaces, water heaters, interior gas fireplaces and even back deck grills. This would eradicate natural gas-related jobs and make everyone go electric. My House Republican colleagues and I were able to slow this bill, but there's a possibility it could move forward this session.

These bills would put an immense strain on our regional electrical grid. How do proponents respond? They believe the answer is building massive solar and wind farms across Eastern Washington.

Besides encroaching on fertile agricultural lands, there's a problem with this concept. When the sun goes down, solar energy falls to zero. On a cloudy day, solar energy can produce only 10 to 25 percent of electricity, which means solar is unreliable, even during the daytime. Similarly, wind power is unreliable when there's little to no wind.

Many environmental proponents want Washington to follow California, where 33 percent of it's in-state electricity is mandated to come from renewable sources, such as wind, solar and hydro. Similarly, in 2019, Gov. Inslee signed Senate Bill 5116, the Clean Energy Transformation Act, which commits Washington to an electricity supply free of greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

Unfortunately, Californians are experiencing rolling blackouts from their law because renewables have not provided enough constant energy for demand. Let's remember, Washington law has eliminated hydro as a renewable source. Are California-style brownouts in our future?

There is no solid plan in Washington beyond the electrical outlet for expansion of the immense amount of electrical generation it would take to power an entire and exclusive non-fossil fuel electric-based economy. Most notably, few or none of these bills will make a difference in the environment.

The Democratic majority is pushing hard this year to pass the governor's climate change bills. Your 9th District team is pushing back just as hard because we think it's time proponents look beyond their electrical outlets before they bring the entire grid to its knees, displace jobs, and make you pay more for nothing.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, represents the 9th District and serves as ranking Republican on the House Environmental and Energy Committee.

State Representative Mary Dye, 9th Legislative District
432 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(564) 888-2380 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000