Letter to the editor: We need to transition to clean renewable energy


Don Brunell’s opinion piece “Ban Inslee’s Natural Gas Ban” is a distorted, meandering argument that largely focuses on issues unaffected by Senate Bill 1084. Brunell ignores the fact that we need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels immediately, for a safe, healthy and equitable future. The gas industry is using scare tactics when it suggests people will be forced to replace existing appliances in their current homes, which is a lie.

Buildings account for approximately 27% of Washington’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A study by the Rocky Mountain Institute shows the cost over time of all-electric new homes is less than gas heating, even taking into account the cost of installing electric heat pumps. Washington state’s Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) will make a new gas appliance economically obsolete before it is paid for. The next car, furnace or stove consumers buy should be electric. Policies need to be put in place for this to be easy and affordable for everyone. 

It is misleading to say gas energy use has reduced air pollution, without explaining that gas produces much more GHGs than hydro, solar, wind and geothermal energy. Gas is cleaner than coal, but much dirtier than renewables. Meanwhile, renewable energy prices are falling fast. Under CETA, utilities that rely on gas for electrical generation will have to replace the gas by 2045. 

CETA will not, however, require cities such as Enumclaw and Ellensburg to stop providing gas service to existing customers.

CETA establishes state tax incentives for clean energy projects. Those incentives are contingent upon union-friendly job quality criteria, including “100% tax exemption for projects developed under a community workforce agreement or project labor agreement.” Because these new standards help create jobs, unions dropped their long-standing opposition to this sort of climate policy.

Last summer’s heat dome demonstrated the consequences of our dependence on natural gas. If and when we reach 100% renewable/zero carbon electrical power, all electric heat and cooking will also be zero-carbon. In the interim, we can all reduce our energy use (e.g., insulation and conservation), support clean energy policies, and encourage our utility companies to move to 100% renewable energy ASAP. If we want a healthier and safer future, we need to transition to clean renewable energy, starting now. 

Alliance for Community Engagement SWWA (ACE)