Brown’s bill to create innovative industry-siting program is advanced by Senate energy committee

Last year, Sen. Sharon Brown’s bill to establish an innovative statewide industrial-siting coordination program cleared both chambers of the Legislature unanimously, only to be vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee, citing budget concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee voted unanimously to advance this year’s version of the bill, which, Brown says, she intends to get over the finish line this time.

“The Legislature voiced enthusiastic and unanimous support for this bill last year,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “I’m pleased to see that support for this novel idea has not waned, but if anything, interest is greater than ever.”

Senate Bill 5345 would establish a statewide industrial waste coordination program based on the highly successful model of Denmark’s Kalundborg Eco-Industrial Park. It is perhaps the world’s best example of an industrial symbiosis network – a cooperative environment in which companies use each other’s by-products and otherwise share resources in order to both save money and improve the environment.

Brown explained that companies involved in the effort at Kalundborg exchange material wastes, energy, water, and information. While the Kalundborg park developed organically, it now serves as a model for what public-private developers and industrial site planners can aim to achieve.

“There really is near-universal praise for this innovative approach,” said Brown. “It’s a smart way to bring industry and environmentalists together. Their concerns don’t have to be in conflict; as we have seen in Denmark, where this idea originated, we can bring both sides together if we do the work.”

Under the bill, the program would be administered by the state Department of Commerce and bring together expertise, technical assistance and best practices to support local industrial symbiosis projects. The bill also would establish a competitive grant program for research into waste-exchange ideas.

“Industrial symbiosis addresses critical needs – the need of industrial businesses to reduce costs and increase profitability, and the public need to improve environmental performance,” said Brown.

The City of Kalundborg is proof that both things can be done. There, smart businesses and symbiotic relationships between facilities is generating nearly $30 million of economic value for a community of just 17,000 people, while reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by 600,000 tons a year in the process.

“There is no reason why Washington can’t see that same level of success for our citizens,” said Brown.

The bipartisan measure, which is co-sponsored by Democrat Sens. Rolfes, Das, Hasegawa, Lovelett, Mullet, Nguyen, and Randall, and Republican Sen. Rivers, now moves to Senate Ways and Means Committee for its consideration.