A reintroduced bill in the Washington Legislature that would ban the future use of natural gas in the state is drawing sharp opposition from Republican lawmakers.

House Bill 1589 (HB 1589) was introduced by 22nd District Rep. Beth Doglio (D-Olympia) and seeks to disallow natural gas from being used in new construction.

Seventh District Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber (R-Republic) says she appreciates the bill's goal of curbing carbon pollution but has concerns about how it seeks to do so.

"My main concern is the energy load this will create on our electrical grid. We need that base load, whether that's created by natural gas, hydro(-electricity) or many other things. It's really hard to have wind power and solar power to continue to keep the lights on and we're getting projections from our power companies that it's not possible to do that."

Maycumber also claims the bill unfairly marginalizes residents and businesses east of the Cascades.

"If we want to continue to have a strong economy in Eastern Washington then we can't build all electric and we have to move towards green energy in a way that's smart and stagger it. So this (HB 1589) is just one of those blows we take from the elite because if you're elite and live in the Puget Sound area then you'll be okay with natural gas because apparently their natural gas doesn't affect the environment but ours does."

HB 1589 would only impact natural gas companies that serve over 500,000 retail customers. As of June, 2023, Western Washington-based Puget Sound Energy (PSE) is the only provider who serves a volume which would meet that threshold.

PSE, the state's largest utility provider with over 800,000 natural gas customers in six counties, has been a strong proponent of the bill.

Although the bill would impact all new residential and commercial construction in the state, it does includes exemptions for medical care facilities, prisons and jails, and facilities operated by the Department of Defense.

The provisions of HB 1589 have strong ties to Washington's Clean Energy Transformation Act, which mandates that all of the state's utilities be carbon-neutral by 2030 and carbon-free by 2045.

HB 1589, which passed the House last year but stalled out in the Senate, received a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy & Technology last week.

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