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Mid-session climate updates from Olympia

After last week’s major mid-session deadline for the legislators to keep considering policies, here’s a summary of what’s still moving in Olympia.

Clean Buildings

The House passed HB 1770 Stronger Energy Codes, a bill to address emissions in new buildings by allowing local jurisdictions to go beyond the state’s minimum energy efficiency requirements for homes, townhomes, and small multifamily buildings if they choose. HB 1770 would also ensure that all new buildings are ultra-efficient and solar-ready post-2034. The bill passed the House and is scheduled for an executive session in the Senate Energy Environment Technology Committee on 2/23. 

Unfortunately the House failed to pass key legislation, HB 1767 Targeted Electrification, to allow public utilities to offer incentive programs to their customers to switch from fossil fuels to efficient heat pumps. A familiar cadre of voices testified in opposition to the bill including Washington’s gas utilities, business interest groups, and others.  

Clean Transportation

You may have already read about Move Ahead Washington and the potential for a major transportation package in 2022. It includes historic amounts in transit, active transportation, and transportation electrification—it is a $16.8 billion package even without a gas tax. With over $5 billion coming from Climate Commitment Act funds, we are tracking this funding to ensure that spending aligns with CCA and our greenhouse gas limits. We are most excited about: investments in vehicle electrification, ferry electrification, expanded transit service and electric buses, and bike and pedestrian projects. 

Clean Energy Siting (EFSEC)

We need to replace our expansive fossil fuel infrastructure—oil refineries, natural gas power plants, and more—with new clean replacements. HB 1812 improves siting laws by providing clarity for project proponents around the state’s expectations, certainty and predictability around review timeline, and more. The House passed the policy and is scheduled for an executive session in the Senate Environment, Energy, and Technology Committee on 2/23.

Zero Emission Lawn Equipment

Did you know running a gas leaf blower for an hour produces the same amount of smog-forming pollution as driving a 2017 Toyota Camry 1,100 miles? Fossil-fuel powered lawn equipment is a significant source of pollution in our communities, and SB 5543 & HB 1918 provide incentives for purchasing zero emissions lawn equipment. Both are deemed “necessary to implement the budget” so they are not subject to cutoffs, and are awaiting passage in their respective fiscal committees.

Landfill Methane Emissions 

Landfills are a significant source of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas with a far larger short-term impact than CO2. HB 1663 reduces methane emissions in Washington by requiring high-emitting landfills to install methane gas capture and collect methane. It passed the House and is scheduled for executive session in the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee on 2/23. 

Organics Management 

Organic waste (yard waste, food waste, and other organic material) makes up almost 30% of Washington’s waste stream and releases methane into the atmosphere. HB 1799 works to prevent those emissions at their source by setting a statewide target for diversion of organic material and also a separate target for edible food diversion to food rescue groups. The bill passed the House and is scheduled for an executive session in the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee on 2/23. 

Cities want to do more on climate. Help them and take action on HB 1770 Stronger Energy Codes

This bill has already passed the House. Please take a minute to tell your senator that you support allowing our cities to move more quickly toward healthier, more energy efficient and climate-friendly construction for all new homes.

Author Bio

Kelly Hall

Washington State Director , Climate Solutions

Kelly is responsible for guiding policy development and building integrated communications, advocacy and government affairs strategy to foster a clean energy economy in Washington.   Most recently she was the Washington Senior Policy Manager for Climate Solutions.

Kelly brings years of experience in the utility sector from her previous work at Renewable Northwest, where designed and advocated for policy and regulatory frameworks to expand renewable energy penetration in the Pacific Northwest.  Having previously spent time as a Probation Officer in Indiana and a Volunteer Coordinator in Argentina before a significant career transition, it wasn’t until taking a course on the ethics of climate change that her career path and passions converged into action on climate.  She sees a strong connection between climate change and many of the national and global inequities, and brings her diverse array of experiences and passion for addressing the climate crisis together to inform her policy thinking. 

Kelly graduated with an M.P.A. from the University of Washington with certificates in Environmental Management and Climate Science in 2014.  While in school, she held positions with the Climate Impacts Groups, U.S. EPA Region 10, and the PNW Smart Grid Demonstration Project, which provided her with a foundation of climate and energy experience. 

In her free time, Kelly enjoys finding new adventurous hikes, wandering around the state on a bike, and sipping on Washington’s finest wines.