Trio of Brown measures clears energy committee well ahead of next week’s legislative deadline

Nuclear waste memorial, blockchain work group and innovative industrial waste coordination program all receive broad bipartisan support

Today the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee voted to advance a trio of bills sponsored by Sen. Sharon Brown, including her innovative proposal to establish a statewide industrial waste coordination program.

As amended by the committee, Senate Bill 6430 would create a program, administered by the state Department of Commerce, to bring together expertise, technical assistance and best practices to support local industrial symbiosis projects. The projects use the waste byproduct of one industrial facility to produce energy and other resources for an adjacent facility. The bill also would establish a competitive grant program for research into waste exchange ideas.

“Reduce, reuse, recycle – it is all in this bill,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “Locating industrial facilities in a way that the steam and runoff from one facility can be captured and used by another facility to reduce their energy costs is a win-win situation. This idea of industrial symbiosis brings industry and environmental concerns together in a way that has countless potential applications in communities across our state.

“It’s great to see such broad bipartisan support for this idea, and I am encouraged that the Legislature will take this opportunity to improve the way industries locate their facilities in our state.” 

The energy committee also approved Brown’s measure demanding action on a federal nuclear-waste repository. Senate Joint Memorial 8018 asks Congress, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to establish and develop a permanent federal nuclear-waste repository.

“There are currently more than 90,000 metric tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste, yet the federal government still hasn’t adopted or executed a plan for its permanent removal and containment,” said Brown. “It’s well past time for the feds to live up to both their obligation and commitment.”

The third Brown-sponsored measure advanced by the committee today is Senate Bill 6065. This bill would establish the Washington Blockchain Work Group to help create a welcoming environment for businesses that are adopting distributed-ledger technology.

A blockchain is an ever-expanding list of records, called blocks, that are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data, and therefore more secure.

“Every day, new businesses and whole industries are looking for new ways to improve delivery of services and the customer experience through use of blockchain technology,” said Brown. “We want those innovators, businesses and industries to make Washington their home, and we want the jobs they create – both in and out of the technology field – to go to Washingtonians.

“This bill will help bring together the state and blockchain advocates and experts to identify these business opportunities.”

All three measures cleared the committee well before the Feb. 7 deadline for policy bills to pass out of their committee of origin in order to be passed during the 2020 legislative session.