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Originally published Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 1:23 PM

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Inslee, senators differ on climate proposal

Testifying before a state House committee, Gov. Jay Inslee insisted that Washington state is poised to lead the fight against climate change and urged lawmakers to help him move quickly on the issue.

Associated Press

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OLYMPIA, Wash. —

Testifying before a state House committee, Gov. Jay Inslee insisted that Washington state is poised to lead the fight against climate change and urged lawmakers to help him move quickly on the issue.

In the wake of changes to his inaugural climate change bill made in the Republican-controlled state Senate, Inslee advocated Tuesday for his measure in the House Environment Committee. Inslee pushed for his plan to hire an outside group to advise state leaders on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while increasing the share of energy created in Washington state. The group's report, due in October, would evaluate how other states and countries are addressing climate change.

"This is an issue about pollution, plain and simple," Inslee said, referring to the discharge of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.

Inslee pitched the same bill to the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee in February. That committee passed an amended version of the bill after removing language in its intent section about Washington's vulnerability to climate change and the benefits of transitioning to cleaner energy sources.

The Senate version of the bill would also expand the scope of the group's study to include Washington state's efforts to cut carbon emissions - including cleaner car and fuel standards, phasing out coal power and adoption of green building rules - and to analyze their costs and benefits. Additionally, it would limit the governor's role in shaping those recommendations into legislation.

After further revisions, that measure passed the Senate Ways and Means Committee last week.

"We don't want to talk in absolutes in terms of science," said Republican Sen. Doug Ericksen of Whatcom County, chairman of the Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, in explaining the changes to the intent language. "I'm not comfortable saying science is conclusive on any issue, because the science is always changing."

Brandon Houskeeper, a lobbyist for the Association of Washington Business, said his organization has concerns about Inslee's proposal but supports the current Senate version of the bill.

"We've adopted all these policies," Houskeeper said. "What are their impacts?"

Inslee lauded the Legislature and former Gov. Chris Gregoire for setting a target in 2008 to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Passing his measure, Inslee said, would help provide the tools to meet that goal.

"We're not supportive of the changes they've made in the Senate," said Jaime Smith, a spokeswoman for the governor. "The governor will be talking to them more to see if we can come to an agreement on bill language."

Inslee added that Washington state has a duty to tackle the challenges of climate change even if others fail to do so.

Addressing a concern from Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, on the utility of Washington state taking action on climate change when China's increasingly carbon-emitting ways would dwarf those efforts, Inslee allowed that "the Chinese are people of incredible mercantile ability" and said that he saw the country as a prime market for Washington state's eco-friendly products.

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AP Writer Rachel La Corte contributed to this report.

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Follow AP Writer Jonathan Kaminsky at http://www.twitter.com/jekaminsky

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