Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup now up and running

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, expressed hope and enthusiasm after the first meeting of Gov.  Jay Inslee’s Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup yesterday.

“This is the start of something really exciting,” said Ranker, who joins Rep. Fitzgibbon, Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Bellingham, Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy and Gov. Inslee as the five members of the workgroup. “When lawmakers created our workgroup this past session, we were essentially saying as a Legislature that we’ve moved beyond questioning whether climate change poses a real problem. The debate is no longer about if we should take action, it’s how we take action. Inaction is not an option, and this workgroup will play a key role in making recommendations for how we take action responsibly, meaningfully and effectively as a state,” Ranker said.

The workgroup was created when the Legislature passed Senate Bill 5802 in March at the request of Gov. Inslee to propose ways to help the state to meet the greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets the Legislature established in 2008.

“I’m excited to join Gov. Inslee and the other members of the workgroup to make real progress on the Legislature’s commitment to reduce our state’s greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020,” said Fitzgibbon, who has been a House leader on greenhouse gas reduction issues.  Washington State is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, he said.  Diminished snowpack, fire-ravaged forests, rising oceans and ocean acidification adversely impact Washington’s agriculture, forestry, and shellfish industries, which combined employ over 280,000 Washingtonians.  “The economic cost alone of inaction is far greater than the cost of any solutions to mitigate these threats. And, of course, climate change threatens more than just our economy,” Fitzgibbon said.

The workgroup will meet next on May 24, and then will meet twice monthly between now and the end of December, when its final recommendations are due to be submitted to the Legislature.