Maria believes that the solutions to high energy prices and our nation's dependence on foreign oil won't be found at the bottom of another oil well, but in American ingenuity and innovation. That's why she has worked tirelessly to foster that innovation and give Washington companies the resources they need to lead the nation and the world in the booming clean energy sector. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorialized in 2007, "Senator Maria Cantwell assumed the mantle of clean-tech leadership before the industry had a name."
Washington's waterways are one of the state's greatest assets and that's especially true with clean energy production. Hydropower supplies Washington with roughly three quarters of its electricity with zero emissions. Maria is pushing bipartisan legislation through the Senate that would increase the nation's capacity for hydropower without building new dams. As The Columbian editorialized about Maria's bill, "it takes a proven success -- indeed, the pride of the Northwest -- and makes it even better."
Maria has also helped Washington state tap its enormous potential in the biofuels industry given its abundant supply of raw materials, industry, and top-of-the-line research facilities. In 2005, she brought together stakeholders for the Washington Biofuels Business Collaborative, helping to jumpstart the state's biofuels market. Maria also helped to lay the groundwork for the biodiesel plant at the Port of Grays Harbor. In 2007, she helped author the Renewable Fuels Standard which increased the volume of renewable fuel required to be blended into transportation fuel from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022. In 2011 she reintroduced her bipartisan legislation to expand the program to better incentivize growth of the domestic biodiesel industry. The combination of biofuel incentives championed by Maria, and the state's robust aerospace industry, has put Washington on the road to becoming a world leader in aviation biofuels.
As Maria has often said before, the clean energy sector is a $6 trillion opportunity for high-paying American jobs. That's why she shepherded legislation in 2008 that would take away tax breaks for oil and gas companies for the first time and give them instead to the renewable energy sector to help spur thousands of new jobs in the solar, wind, fuel cell, biomass, and hydropower fields. Since that initial breakthrough, Maria has successfully won extensions of these programs and is currently pushing for new ones.
Maria believes in the innovative power of Washington state and has made great strides in sharing it with the world. She spearheaded US-China clean energy talks that brought American and Chinese business and government leaders to Gig Harbor to hammer out plans for clean energy partnerships between US and Chinese companies. The talks were an offshoot of the ongoing US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue, which resulted in a ten year pact between the two countries and made those clean energy partnerships a reality. One of the first ground-breaking eco-partnerships to spring from this effort was between the Port of Seattle and City of Tacoma with the Dalian Port Corporation in Liaoning, China to work together creating standards for environmental sustainability at the world's largest ports. As the Port of Seattle's managing director said at the time, the result would mean "if you want to come through the Northwest gateway, you're going to come through the cleanest, most sustainable gateway anywhere."
There's still a lot of hard work ahead to make Washington's clean energy future a reality and that's why Maria is working hard to lower day to day energy costs for Washingtonians. She has been a consistent champion in pushing for more fuel efficient cars and new renewable energy programs to encourage the industry to grow. Starting with her success holding Enron accountable for its abuse of Washington state electricity customers, Maria has been a leading proponent in banning energy market manipulation. In 2008, her legislation to close the so-called "Enron loophole," which allowed energy commodity markets to be exempt from government oversight, became law and gave federal regulators the power to stop manipulation in the oil market. Today, she is continuing the fight by calling on federal regulators to use that authority and stop oil speculation that unfairly inflates the price at the gas pump.