Washington state legislator visits Cowlitz County landfill to observe methane gas capture project

Republicans in Washington state are showing openness to certain policy approaches in addressing climate change.

During this legislative session, Rep. Peter Abbarno, a representative from Centralia, played a crucial role in obtaining $4.9 million in funding from the supplemental capital budget. This funding will be utilized by the Cowlitz County Public Utility District to establish a groundbreaking project aimed at converting landfill gas into electricity. The project is a collaborative effort between the Cowlitz County Public Utility District and the Cowlitz County Public Works Department.

The project aims to transform methane, which is produced from the decomposition of organic waste in the landfill, into a sustainable source of fuel.

Abbarno had the opportunity to visit the site last week.

According to him, it is essential to explore methane recapture as a means of diversifying our energy portfolio. He believes that relying solely on electrification is not currently feasible for the state of Washington. Instead, he suggests thinking outside the box and utilizing existing infrastructure to harness energy in innovative ways.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Cowlitz County landfill generated approximately 290,000 metric tons of methane from the decomposition of organic waste in both 2021 and 2022. This makes it one of the largest contributors of methane gas in the state of Washington.

According to Abbarno, even after the landfill is closed, it will continue to emit methane which can be captured and utilized. This means that the landfill’s lifespan will extend beyond its primary purpose. The project has the potential to power around 4,500 to 5,000 homes initially. As the project expands and more methane is emitted, it could potentially power up to 15,000 homes. There is also room for further expansion in the future.

“I believe it would be beneficial to have a more extended transition period for natural gas,” he expressed. “Regrettably, both the governor and his party in the Legislature have made the choice to disregard this, resulting in economic strains and heightened insecurity for hardworking families.”

House Bill 1589 sets the groundwork for Puget Sound Energy, the state’s largest utility, to transition towards clean energy.

The Legislature passed HB 1589, and Governor Jay Inslee signed it into law.

During this year’s legislative session, Abbarno pointed out several environmental contradictions.

According to the speaker, it is not feasible to invest $100 million in EV charging infrastructure in numerous communities this year. He emphasizes the importance of transitioning to a non-fossil fuel decarbonization world while taking into account the economic stressors and insecurity it may create in marginalized communities.

According to Abbarno, it is important to recognize that all policy prescriptions come with trade-offs.

According to him, environmental policies often come at the expense of freedom and economic security. He highlighted that Washington is notorious for implementing regressive environmental policies that disproportionately burden those who are least able to afford them.

The financing for the Cowlitz County landfill project will not only come from state funds but also include federal Inflation Reduction Act tax credits and contributions from Cowlitz County and the Public Utility District.

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MBS Staff
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