OLYMPIA - A bill aimed at protecting rural jobs and the environment moved a step closer to final adoption this week, winning approval today in the House Environment Committee and moving on to the House Rules Committee.
Senate Bill 5575 would alter some of the regulations of Initiative 937, adding new sources to the list of eligible biomass products, organic matter used to generate electricity with steam turbines. The bill would also reverse an I-937 rule and allow biomass facilities in operation before 1999 to qualify as eligible for renewable energy credits.
“Once this bill has passed and been signed into law, it will ensure security for hundreds of rural jobs across the state,” said Sen. Brian Hatfield, the bill’s sponsor. “Without the allowances 5575 makes, these mills could not remain competitive.”
Hatfield says not allowing older biomass generators to count toward renewable energy requirements would have been devastating for paper and timber mills in rural Washington that would have been faced with possible closure at the expense of hundreds of family wage jobs.
The bill will also allow organic by-products of pulping and wood products, or black liquor, to count as a biomass fuel.