Pearson, Kristiansen legislation would save local governments money

House Bill 1141 would end mandate to transition local government-owned fleet to alternative fuel or electricity only

Officials from Sedro-Woolley traveled to Olympia today to testify in favor of House Bill 1141. The legislation would exempt local governments and their departments from the 2007 state law requiring them to replace and retrofit all government-owned vehicles to run on 100 percent biofuel or electricity by 2015. Reps. Kirk Pearson and Dan Kristiansen co-sponsored the measure at the request of local government leaders in the 39th Legislative District.

“I was contacted by one of the cities in my district that was concerned with the requirements for local governments to turn cars over to biofuels and electricity in just a few short years, and what that would cost,” said Pearson, R-Monroe. “I know my communities are always willing to do what they can to be forward thinking in their transportation technology, but with the current economic situation, they are panicked about what the trade-off would be on local services. This policy could break the bank of small- and medium-sized cities.”

The city of Darrington also sent a letter to Pearson outlining its budget and how replacing vehicles used by city employees so they comply with the law would negatively impact the city, and its services.

Eron Berg, city supervisor and attorney for Sedro-Woolley, and Sedro-Woolley Fire Chief Dean Klinger testified to the problems and concerns that have been reported on older city cars retrofitted to use alternative fuels and use of new alternative fuel vehicles in the city’s fleet.

In his public testimony, Berg said Sedro-Woolley was an early-adopter of the move to biofuel vehicles, and was excited about the technology. However, the city decided to abandon the conversions just one year after starting the program. Berg and Klinger told the committee the reason Sedro-Woolley decided to scrap the program was due to the prohibitive cost of fuel, unpredicted high maintenance costs and concerns with the reliability of the vehicles, particularly emergency vehicles.

“It’s really a matter of life and death. First responders must be confident that when someone calls 911, they can get their emergency vehicles started and get those vehicles rapidly to the scene without clunking out,” said Kristiansen, R-Snohomish. “If there’s a fire, a flood, power lines down, or whatever the emergency, first responders must have reliable transportation to ensure the public’s safety. Minutes and seconds count in an emergency. Our police, fire and public works departments shouldn’t be wasting precious time to get their vehicles started because of sludge in the engines from biofuels.”

House Bill 1141 remains in the Technology, Energy and Communications Committee for now.


For more information, contact Bobbi Cussins, Public Information Officer: (360) 786-7252


Washington State House Republican Communications