Washington's long-term growth planning must consider climate change

Prepared testimony supporting HB 1099, revising the Growth Management Act:

Thank you Chair and members of the committee for considering HB 1099, adding climate response to the Growth Management Act. Climate Solutions urges your support.

The Growth Management Act (GMA) is a key series of statutes that have helped to positively manage Washington’s growth. However, much has changed since its adoption in 1990, and communities now are facing both the need to mitigate the climate crisis and be more resilient to its impacts. HB 1099 will help ensure this is the case by adding climate mitigation to the listed goals of the GMA and requiring certain counties and cities to incorporate climate and resiliency elements in their comprehensive plans.

Our land use patterns impact our greenhouse gas emissions in many ways. When, due to lack of housing and housing prices, people are unable to live close to work and essential services, or near easily accessible transit, they are forced to drive, increasing our state’s emissions as well as leading to more congestion and vehicle crashes. It is critical that we address this connection: the transportation sector is responsible to close to half of our state’s climate pollution, and the most recent greenhouse gas emissions inventory found pollution from this sector has increased.

The State’s recently-completed State Energy Strategy emphasizes the connection between land use, vehicle miles travelled (VMT), and carbon pollution, noting that “the siting of housing developments near services, amenities and transportation services can result in a 20-40% reduction in VMT, and a corresponding decline in greenhouse gas emissions and congestion.” It further recommends supporting “smart growth” zoning and land use policies.

HB 1099 will help address this need. Washington State has committed to halving its emissions over the next decade and achieving net zero emissions by 2050. It only makes sense that the GMA aligns with other state law in addressing climate change. It includes the development of measurable targets for emissions and VMT reductions, and requires that reductions are prioritized in communities that are disproportionately impacted by air pollution.

As last summer’s wildfires and the ensuing smoke demonstrated, we must both mitigate the climate crisis as well as plan for the impacts it is already causing. It only makes sense that long-range planning take this into account, and that the GMA be updated to include this. Please support HB 1099.

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The article was written by Climate Solutions staff. Our individual bios can be found here.

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