Issue Position: Reducing Our Dependence on Foreign Oil
Governor Chris Gregoire believes that it is imperative to create an ample supply of clean energy to support our economic competitiveness and preserve our environment. An abundant, affordable, environmentally responsible and diverse energy supply underlies Washington's economic and environmental health. Washingtonians spend $25 million a day on oil. The high price of gas hurts Washington families. Governor Gregoire knows that by keeping more of those dollars here in our state, we can strengthen our local economy and break our dependence on foreign oil.
Governor Gregoire believes that Washington can remain a leader in energy efficiency, making the wisest use of our natural resources and improving our economic competitiveness. She signed legislation in 2005 that set efficiency standards for a dozen commercial products and established the nation's first requirements for green public buildings. She received an award from the Northwest Energy Coalition for her leadership on efficiency and renewable energy.
Energy efficiency reduces consumption and pollution, creates jobs and makes our economy more efficient. State government will do its part to reduce electricity, natural gas and petroleum use in vehicles and buildings, saving taxpayers money while conserving resources. In 2005, state government reduced electricity use on the Capitol Campus by 14 percent and reduced natural gas use by 36 percent.
Renewable Energy Production
Increasing energy production from renewable resources will spur the development of clean energy businesses. Governor Gregoire believes clean energy, such as wind power, biomass and biofuels, is particularly valuable to the agricultural economy as another "crop" that our farmers can harvest.
The next generation of cutting-edge energy technologies, like ethanol from wheat straw and wood waste or controls to make the electricity grid "smarter", can be developed in partnership with Washington's world-class research institutions and entrepreneurial companies. Greater use of renewable resources will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and diversify our supplies, increasing the security of our sources of energy. Renewable resources are also much better for our environment.
Renewable energy production is growing in Washington. In 2005, Governor Gregoire signed into law solar energy incentives for consumers and manufacturers that are the most progressive in this country. Subsequently, with Governor Gregoire's help, Renewable Energy Corporation is expanding its solar grade silicon manufacturing in Moses Lake. Governor Gregoire approved siting the Wild Horse Wind Farm near Ellensburg and returned a year later to flip the switch to start the turbines.
The Future of Biofuels
Biofuels are produced from crops that can be grown and processed in our own state, keeping our dollars in our own communities. Governor Gregoire helped provide a new market for Washington-grown energy crops like canola or mustard by requiring fuel suppliers in Washington to ensure that, beginning in 2008, two percent of Washington's fuel supply come from renewable fuel sources. As the state's biofuels production rises, that percentage will gradually increase.
Governor Gregoire promoted private investment in the biofuels industry by winning passage of legislation that provides financial assistance for the infrastructure necessary to support a clean fuel industry, such as seed crushers and anaerobic digesters. The market is responding to this leadership: a Seattle company wants to build the country's largest bio-diesel refinery and has selected Grays Harbor County as its location.
Assisting Those in Need
Governor Gregoire recognizes that abundant, affordable energy is critical to Washington families and our economy. She will fight attempts to take our low-cost hydropower system away from us and is working with utilities and their customers to ensure those benefits are available for decades to come. Governor Gregoire also signed legislation to help low-income families pay high winter heating bills.
Moving Washington Forward
Governor Gregoire's work on energy in the new millennium looks to the future, rather than clinging to outdated and unreliable answers to energy needs. Under her leadership, state government is helping to move Washington toward energy independence.