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Substitute Senate Bill 5802 , a bill that requires the Governor's office to hire an independent organization to prepare an evaluation of approaches to reducing green house gas emissions in the state, passed the state Senate March 13.

The bill, co-sponsored by Senator Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) and others, also creates the climate legislative and executive work group which will recommend a state program of actions and policies to reduce greenhouse emissions.

"SSB 5802 has the potential to improve the state's energy independence and competitiveness, and to grow many sectors of the state's economy creating hundreds of jobs, including solar energy products we export around the world and use heavily in my district," said Ranker.

In 2007 the Legislature adopted statewide emissions limits, beginning with reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The potential costs of climate change to Washington families, businesses and communities are projected to reach nearly $10 billion per year by 2020.

After considerable debate in the final hours before cut-off, SB 5603 a bill intended to establish the Washington coastal marine advisory council was also passed off the floor of the Senate today.

Ranker says there are a number of risks associated with climate change, including a rising sea level which affect shoreline uses and increased ocean acidification – an issue he has been addressing at the state and federal levels in his capacity as a key contributor to former Gov. Gregoire’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification.

SB 5603 as amended on the Senate floor creates an advisory council whose focus will be on implementing the panel's work and delivering recommendations to the governor and appropriate legislative committees for strengthened actions to respond to the harm from increasing ocean water acidity. Click HERE to listen to Sen. Ranker’s floor speech.

“Ocean acidification will harm our state's waters, harm our shellfish, and is already doing great harm to our shellfish industry – and the hundreds of associated jobs,” Ranker said. “I’m proud that Washington is the national leader in confronting the problem.

“While we have much to be proud of in our state, such as our ‘low carbon’ hydro-based electrical system and the increase in new clean energy generation, we still will need additional strategies to achieve the greenhouse gas emission reductions we have set out for the state. Our ecosystems, from our Puget Sound to our Eastern Washington forests, are already under stress, but the Legislature can alleviate this stress if we act now."

Ranker's speech on the floor of the Senate can be heard here

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