OLYMPIA — A panel of farmers told Washington senators this week that cap-and-trade would hurt their businesses by driving up production costs.
Larry Jensen, a farmer in Skagit and Snohomish counties, said he and other growers are struggling and can't expect their buyers to pay more.
"Every time we have some additional cost come upon us, we can't turn around and add that on, like many other industries can," said Jensen, testifying in the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee.
Senate Bill 5981 proposes the state adopt a cap-and-trade program similar to California's. Manufacturers, utilities and fossil fuel suppliers would be required to gradually reduce carbon emissions or bid for permits to emit carbon. The number of permits available would decline over time.
The auctions raise government revenue and increase the cost of fuel, according to the California Legislative Analyst's Office.
Jose Salazar, the lead mechanic for Mosby Farms in King County, said cap and trade will drive up the cost of commuting for farmworkers.
"You will hurt my co-workers the most who drive many miles to come to work because housing in south King County is expensive," he said.
According to the bill, climate change is harming the state and without substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the harm will increase.
Taylor Shellfish, a large seafood company in Washington, endorses cap and trade, said Bill Dewey, the company's public affairs director.
"We know ocean acidification will continue to impact our shellfish and our ability to farm them long term, and the solution to that is addressing carbon pollution," he said.
The bill resurrects a proposal that didn't pass last year, but with a major difference. The cap-and-trade bill is dependent on the Legislature increasing funding for transportation projects.
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, said other climate-change bills, such as mandating low-carbon fuels in gasoline and diesel, wouldn't provide money for the transportation budget.
Hobbs has proposed a $15.4 billion, 15-year transportation plan that depends on either cap and trade or a carbon tax.
The session is scheduled to end March 12.
"Hopefully we can come up with something. Just because of time I don't know if anything can come out this year. Probably more like next year," Hobbs said.