VIDEO: Stokesbary blasts Dem bill that paves way for natural gas ban in Washington

Just before 2 a.m. on Wednesday, while most Washingtonians slept, House Democrats brought forward a bill (HB 1589) that paves the way for a natural gas ban in Washington state and will dramatically increase energy bills for Puget Sound Energy (PSE) customers.

In his floor speech, House Republican Leader Drew Stokesbary eviscerated the policy, saying: “It is a big step backward and a big step reaching into the pocketbooks of Washingtonians … this bill will make Washington worse.”

Full speech transcript:

Thank you, Madam Speaker. And good morning. Because it is nearly 2 a.m.

And as Washingtonians sleep, this body is considering a bill that will pave the way to ban natural gas for hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians across the Puget Sound and even in Eastern Washington.

And, Madam Speaker. Not only are we considering this policy at two in the morning while Washington sleeps, but while temperatures are below freezing across much of Western Washington.

In University Place. In Lakewood. In Mill Creek. In Everett. In Kent. In Auburn. In Federal Way. It is below freezing right now.

Yet we are considering a bill that would pave the way to get rid of the natural gas system for residents in all of those cities. Or make them pay higher prices for the electricity that remains.

But, Madam Speaker. Not only would this bill pave the way for getting rid of natural gas, but through the accelerated depreciation schedule, it would dramatically increase the rates that utility customers in Western Washington pay.

Madam Speaker, the Washington Community Action Partnership wrote earlier this week that this bill creates significant impacts for low-income residents who are already overburdened.

Madam Speaker, you heard me stand here on the first day of session and say that we have a catalog of crises facing Washington state. And chief among those is an affordability crisis. And you heard me say that we need to fix Washington.

And the first thing we have to do if you want to fix something is to stop making it worse.

But this bill is going to make the affordability crisis that our constituents face every day much, much worse. Our constituents in Oak Harbor and in Clinton, where they have Puget Sound Energy for electricity service, they will pay higher rates because of this policy.

In University Place and in Lakewood, where they have Puget Sound—PSE for electricity, they will pay higher rates. In Mill Creek and Everett, they have natural gas and electricity, and they will pay higher rates because of this bill. In Kent, just to the north of my district, residents of Kent have PSE for gas and electric. They will pay higher rates because of this bill.

My hometown of Auburn. I have been a PSE customer since the day I was born. My hometown of Auburn, all of my constituents will pay higher rates. And next door in Federal Way, they will pay higher rates too.

Madam Speaker, we heard from the gentlewoman from the 22nd District that this bill is a big step for our state. She is right about that. It is a big step backward and a big step reaching into the pocketbooks of Washingtonians. It will be a regressive tax and make Washington more unaffordable.

Instead of fixing Washington, this bill adds to the growing catalog of crises.

This bill will make Washington worse.

We should fix Washington, not make it worse.


Washington State House Republican Communications