E-News: Upset about the ‘climate’ charge on your utility bill? There’s an initiative for that

natural gas bill
If you’re a customer of NW Natural and were shocked by the “WA Climate Act Fee” on your bill, you are not alone. On top of Washington’s artificially high prices for gasoline, this is another consequence of the partisan cap-and-trade law that was adopted in 2021 and would be repealed by the passage of Initiative 2117.

Hello Friends and Neighbors,

Rather than focus on bills that did or did not survive the first “cutoff” (deadline) of this session, I’m going to share some emails that have come in lately and how legislation proposed by the people of Washington (in the form of Initiative 2117) is related.

This came from a constituent in Camas, under the subject line “New WA Climate Act Fee.”

Imagine my surprise when I open my NW Natural gas bill today & find a $61 add’l charge for “WA climate act fee” (during the coldest time in recent history no less) – do you realize that that amount is over 20% of my total bill! I am outraged over the money the state is taking from ordinary taxpayers – it’s stealing money from me! This fee needs to be STOPPED…NOW!!! Stop stealing my money. Do a good job for those you represent & reverse the legislation that led to this fee being charged.

Now for an email from a Vancouver constituent, titled “New taxes for natural gas usage.”

Why am I being taxed just to use natural gas?? Exactly how is this extra money going to do anything to offset carbon emissions? This is nothing more than another tax by the ultra liberal left to get more of my hard earned dollars. Do you support this?

And this, from Washougal:

We got our natural gas bill today. We were shocked to see a $53 “Climate Act Fee” on the bill, apparently courtesy of our Washington legislators. My wife and I are in our 70s. Owned a lot houses over the years and paid our share of bills and fees. Faithfully paid our taxes and so on. I’ve never seen anything like this. We are paying about 50 cents for this fee for every $1.21 cents for the gas itself. We’re on fixed income. We drive a hybrid car and have solar panels on our garage roof so we our carbon footprint is probably minimal. But the footprint of this tax on our heating bill and monthly budget is huge. What are you people up in Olympia thinking?

Now another from Camas:

Wonder how the legislature could approve an almost 30% tax on Natural Gas without any input from folks like myself! This tax will be a loss of approximately $50-100 a month in disposable income (I am not low income enough to qualify for energy assistance) and the tax is an incredibly inflationary action on the government’s part. (Not to mention an increase in the gasoline tax for which I had no impact!). This utility tax will adversely impact millions in Washington State financially and given recent inflationary times (checked car insurance rates lately?). I would not be willing to approve any additional taxes that might be proposed in the future in Washington State and will not support elected representatives who somehow believe they know better than taxpayers. My interests certainly are not represented in Olympia and I will do my best to make sure legislators representing my needs, or at least ask for my opinion, are to the best of my ability those in Olympia. You can bet I will vote for the Initiative (in November) to repeal this energy tax, will encourage my friends and neighbors to do the same, and will not support any elected representative who does not stand up for what I believe is right. While I acknowledge challenges associated with climate change this recent tax is in an amount which far outweighs its value and impact on the environment. Reality please?

Here’s my reply:

Thank you for your email regarding the Climate Commitment Act and its impact on your utility bills.  No, I do NOT support it.  I am supporting I-2117 to repeal the Climate Commitment Act and also signed all of the initiatives when petitions were being circulated.

This initiative to the legislature has been referred to the Environment & Energy Committee.  While I am not on that committee, I am strongly advocating for a public hearing to be held at the earliest convenience.  I would love for the legislature to pass this and place it directly into law, but based on the response from legislative Democrats so far, I believe that probably won’t happen.  Our state constitution clearly states initiatives take precedence over all other legislation except budget-related bills.  If the majority side chooses not to allow legislators to vote and enact these initiatives, they will appear on the November ballot and I will vote for them at that time.

To put it more succinctly: The passage of I-2117 would make that “Climate Act Fee” go away!

Not only is the Climate Commitment Act driving natural-gas bills up, anyone who has bought gasoline in the past year has also paid more because of the CCA. It functions like a 50-cent gas tax, without supporting the highway projects that Washington’s real gas tax funds, and has enriched state government by $1.8 billion (nearly $4 billion in 4 years) while doing little to nothing to help the environment. If you wonder why gas costs so much less south of the Columbia, look no further than this law – Oregon doesn’t have it. In fact, the only other state that does is California, which has had the highest gas prices in the past year except for when Washington’s were worst!

Kudos to NW Natural for being honest about this fee on its billing statements. This past summer, as reported here by the Washington Policy Center, Puget Sound Energy (which provides electrical and natural-gas service in many western Washington counties) was prohibited by the state Utilities and Transportation Commission – on advice from Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office – from including “carbon reduction charge” as a line item on its customer bills.

The excuse from the UTC and Ferguson’s office was that adding the explanation would result in “lengthy and confusing bills.” I don’t detect any confusion on the part of the NW Natural customers who reached out to me, only understandable outrage.

I hope you’ll keep reading and take my brief survey about I-2117 and the other five initiatives that over 800,000 Washington voters signed and sent to us.


Bill to raise cost of residential insurance surfaces, then fails

If you follow my legislative Facebook page, you saw my alert this past week about SB 5963. After lying dormant for the first few weeks of the session, this bill suddenly was scheduled for a public hearing and a committee vote on consecutive days – this past Monday and Tuesday, right before the Wednesday deadline for policy committees to take action on bills.

SB 5963 would force people to buy extra liability insurance coverage simply for having a specific item in their residence, on the grounds that the item could accidentally or unintentionally cause a loss or damage. The item? Not hazardous chemicals, which could accidentally poison someone, or a stove, which could accidentally burn someone or cause a fire – but a firearm.

To me this would obviously have a chilling effect on someone who simply wants to exercise a constitutional right – or be prepared to defend life and property from an intruder. Fortunately, testimony at the public hearing exposed very obvious flaws in SB 5963. My office alone received over 6,000 emails opposing this bill, and many other senators received a similarly strong response. Next thing you know, the vote scheduled for Tuesday was promptly unscheduled, and the bill appears to be dormant again. Good thing, because this would have increased homeowner premiums across the board for everyone. Those who weighed in deserve a huge thanks, as you made a big difference!

Considering all the new financial burdens that have been pushed upon the people of Washington in the past several years, it’s positive news when a bill that could raise the cost of living even more, for any reason, is put aside. That said, I’m looking into whether the office of the insurance commissioner has the authority to impose this policy without involving the Legislature. That’s a scary thought but it’s also a reasonable question, because you never know – someone who supports legislation like this just might be seeking to become insurance commissioner someday.

Visitors this week included a delegation representing the ports of Vancouver, Camas-Washougal, and Ridgefield (top), and members of the Building Industry Association of Clark County. There’s nothing like being able to meet in person!


The next “cutoff” for the Senate involves the two fiscal committees (Ways and Means is one, Transportation is the other). They have through Monday to act on Senate legislation, much of which came forward from the policy committees. To get through the Ways and Means committee chair’s to-do list before the deadline, those of us on that committee will get to spend a good portion of tomorrow together, holding public hearings on 36 bills in anticipation of votes happening Monday.

As budget leader for our side I’ll be working to keep the committee focused on considering only those bills which truly fit within the definition of what a supplemental budget should do: make corrections to the current budget and adjustments that either respond to emergencies or simply can’t wait until 2025.

I hope you will reach out whenever you have a comment or question about your state government. Have an amazing day!

Yours in service,

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