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On behalf of Alcoa’s Intalco Works smelter, which employs about 700 people in Whatcom County, we would like to provide some background regarding I-1631. First, Alcoa supports the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and our facility has made significant progress, reducing our greenhouse gas emission rate by 75 percent from 1990 baseline levels.

As reported, I-1631 includes exemptions for industries that are energy-intensive and trade-exposed (EITE). These exemptions are vital because EITE companies, including Alcoa, compete globally against manufacturers with higher carbon footprints. The exemptions reduce the risk of “leakage,” or the loss of high-paying manufacturing jobs to less efficient manufacturers with higher carbon emissions outside of Washington.

While characterized as “large emitters,” EITEs account for less than 5 percent of the total carbon emissions in Washington. Without an exemption, “leakage” would likely result –  the exact opposite of what proponents of I-1631 hope to accomplish.

As a strong and lightweight material that can be infinitely recycled, aluminum is already playing an important role in reducing emissions in a variety of applications, including the transportation and aerospace markets. The exemption for EITEs is better for the environment, ensuring that responsible production remains in this state rather than shifting to regions with more carbon-intensive power supplies.

Laura McKinney, NW government affairs and public relations, Alcoa, and Glenn Farmer, IAMAW business representative for IAM members in Washington and Alaska