Jefferson County commissioner on 'lightning trip' to D.C.

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PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County Commissioner John Austin will travel to Washington, D.C., this week to lobby for a bill that would reimburse local communities for the use of public lands for alternative energy development.

Austin's traveling expenses are subsidized by the Wilderness Society, which recruited him to speak on the bill's behalf.

“They called me and asked if I would be willing to go back there and speak in favor of the bill,” Austin said. “I took a look at the bill, and it made a lot of sense.”

The bill is before both the Senate and the House of Representatives, as S 279 and HR 596 respectively.

The bill is intended to modernize wind and solar development on public lands by instituting a royalty-based leasing systems to developers, with a portion of these royalties returned to local communities, according to a Wilderness Society document.

The bill establishes what is termed a “Renewable Energy Resource Conservation Fund” meant to address impacts from wind and solar development on wildlife habitats by providing funds for conservation programs.

While in Washington, Austin will participate in meetings with the staffs, Sens. Patty Murray (D-Mountlake Terrace) and Maria Cantwell (D-Bothell) and Reps. Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) and Dave Reichert (R-Auburn).

Austin also is scheduled to meet with Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor).

Austin is taking a “red eye” flight tonight and will fly back Thursday evening.

“This is a lightning trip,” he said.

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or

Last modified: June 23. 2013 6:21PM
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