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Republicans declare victory on Inslee's climate bill

In the coming months, Washington state will embark on a study of the best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The research is one provision of a measure Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law Tuesday. It’s a key legislative win for the Democrat. So why are Republicans declaring victory?

In the end, Governor Inslee got his climate change bill. But it came out looking a bit different then it went in. That’s because Republicans now largely control the Washington Senate. They rewrote key sections of the bill. Doug Ericksen did much of the tinkering as chair of the Senate Energy Committee. He hopes the research required by the new law can take what he calls the “religion” out of carbon reduction.

“It’s not really a climate change bill anymore; it’s really a cost-benefit-analysis of environmental actions bill," Ericksen said. "What’s the actual cost of these environmental programs on manufacturing, on agriculture, on fuel prices, the cost of a family’s heating bill?”

Democrat Kevin Ranker sponsored the measure on Inslee’s behalf. He disagrees with Ericksen’s characterization.

“This is a huge victory because this forces us, Democrats and Republicans, to the table in an executive work group to take actions—not to debate whether or not climate [change] is real, but to debate what we’re going to do about it," Ranker said. 

That work group—comprised of legislators and the governor—will hire a consultant and then use the findings to recommend ways for Washington to meet its greenhouse gas emission targets.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.