Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Legislative Strategy?

It's been a busy week at Farm Power. On Monday we woke up to several inches of snow but proceeded to drive down to Olympia where we testified in support of Senate Bill 6806 at an Agriculture and Rural Economic Development meeting. Our state senator, Mary Margaret Haugen (D-10th District), introduced this bill after staff members we've talked to spotted an easy election-year issue in extending a six-year property tax breaks to anaerobic digesters (only biofuels manufacturers receive it currently).

We spent over an hour waiting for a line of agricultural spokesmen to comment on another bill designed to study a potential farmland/habitat program, and then we waited for an engineer to explain his company's new tire-filled digester design to the senators. By the time we took over the stand, the room was noticeably emptier than earlier. We gave the committee a comparatively high-energy presentation, however, and readers can watch online at TV Washington by skipping over the first 1:14:00 of video.

Our friends from the Dairy Federation had already left for their lunch dates, but we did get support from a Puget Sound Energy representative. The bill will get some fiscal analysis before the committee votes on it; we hope any amendments will prove easy to add and help the bill move easily into the full Senate, also picking up a companion bill in the House. This year is a short legislative session, so few of the ideas introduced will actually get anywhere, but our senator has enough pull to move things along and the timing for renewable-energy/climate-change legislation is good.

After leaving the state capital, we continued south to the Harvesting Clean Energy conference in Portland. This wasn't as relevant to our business as the AgSTAR conference two months ago, but it gave us a chance to bond further with people from the USDA (who will be helping us with our $500,000 grant application) and state agencies (who will be working with us on regulatory issues). We returned home Tuesday night quite weary; maybe we will be called down to Olympia again, but hopefully not too soon--we like being in Skagit County!

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