Rep. Mary Dye: Gov. Jay Inslee will ban the use of natural gas in Washington state, unless you say NO!
If you are among the thousands of people in Washington state that use natural gas, including 1.2 million residences, 107,000 commercial buildings and 3,500 industrial buildings, this article is for you!
After passing a new low-carbon fuel standard last year and a cap-and-trade system through the new Climate Commitment Act, Gov. Jay Inslee is now focused on the next step of his climate policies: Eliminating the state's natural gas industry.
The governor's first major salvo came last year through House Bill 1084. This bill would have prohibited the use of natural gas in new homes and buildings. My Republican colleagues and I killed that bill in the House Environment and Energy Committee after hundreds of workers signed in and testified against it.
But that did not deter Gov. Inslee.
At the governor's direction, the Washington State Building Code Council (SBCC) is now considering two proposals that would forbid the use of fossil fuels for heating and hot water in new structures. In addition, the governor is proposing any building construction started in 2034 or beyond must only use electric equipment for appliances and heating. Natural gas appliances would be prohibited. The SBCC is holding virtual public hearings on Feb. 25 and March 11 before adopting these proposals.
In addition, Gov. Inslee introduced two bills against natural gas this session.
House Bill 1767 would permit municipal electric utilities and public utility districts to adopt an electrification plan to swap out natural gas water and space heating equipment in residential and commercial buildings. This bill passed a House committee, but we stopped it from coming to the floor for a vote.
Unfortunately, we were unable to stop the governor's House Bill 1770, which passed the House and is now in the Senate. This bill would change the state's building code to eliminate natural gas and gas fireplaces in new buildings. It also would require new buildings to be wired for solar equipment. These policies would drive up the costs of homes when our state is facing a housing crisis.
More than 95% of our everyday Washington products are derived from or powered by natural gas. Natural gas also provides 15% of our state's electricity. Eliminating natural gas will drive up the cost of electricity for families, businesses, and other vital services in Washington. Plus, it does nothing to reduce carbon. As Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center notes, “The real climate benefit of the proposal is nonexistent. It is the worst of both worlds, increasing home costs and adding nothing to CO2 reduction.”
The governor is relentless. He won't stop until he achieves his natural gas ban, or until enough Washingtonians stand up and say NO!
Make your voice heard now! Sign up for the State Building Code public hearing at: sbcc.wa.gov. You can also submit written comments from that website. Also, provide your input on House Bill 1770 here: https://app.leg.wa.gov/pbc/bill/1770, or call the Legislature's toll-free hotline: 1-800-562-6000.
Unless you and other citizens speak out, Gov. Inslee will make good on his promise to enact policies that will destroy the natural gas industry, the benefits, and jobs it provides to thousands of Washington citizens.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, represents the 9th Legislative District and is the ranking member of the House Environment and Energy Committee.