Washington Legislature fails to pass 100% fossil-free electricity

Release Date
March 9, 2018

A joint statement from Climate Solutions and Audubon Washington

On the last day of its 2018 session, the Washington State Legislature failed to pass HB 2995, a historic and groundbreaking policy designed to set the state on a path toward 100 percent fossil-free electricity by 2045, including a complete phaseout of coal from Washington’s utility rates by 2030. Versions of the policy cleared four committees in both chambers and earned bipartisan support—a legislative first for the concept of 100 percent clean electricity. Ultimately, however, the Legislature did not bring HB 2995 to a vote.

Backed by Audubon Washington, Climate Solutions, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and a broad coalition of labor, environmental, public health, clean energy, and conservation organizations, the bill would have transformed the way Washington produces and consumes energy. With jobs in the renewable sector growing twice as fast as jobs in the fossil fuel industry, and twelve times faster than the rest of the economy, passage of the 100 percent clean electricity policy would have been an important driver of new economic growth and job creation.

“One priority that did not cross the finish line is setting Washington on a path to 100 percent clean electricity over the course of the next generation,” said House Speaker Frank Chopp in a statement. “This proposal was a product of cooperation and common purpose between organizations representing workers and the environmental community. This policy will create family wage jobs here in our state, and it’s part of a transition that will contribute to cleaner air, greater public health, and keeping our energy dollars at home. I look forward to progress on this effort during the interim and in the next legislative session.”

“Once again, the utilities exerted excessive influence and prevented any meaningful action on climate change. This 100 percent clean electricity bill was one of the most significant pieces of climate policies to be seriously considered by the state legislature in the past ten years,” said Gail Gatton, Executive Director of Audubon Washington. “We have waited long enough. We will continue to support effective climate action that reduces carbon pollution and protects birds and people. We need bold action and we will explore all possible avenues to achieve this goal.”

“The people of Washington voiced their demand for strong climate action and 100 percent fossil fuel-free electricity, yet the utilities created many obstacles for the bill to pass,” said Vlad Gutman-Britten, Washington Director for Climate Solutions. “There is no excuse for this failure to act—we cannot keep kicking the can down the road on the climate crisis. Our elected officials have a collective duty to protect our state from the harmful impacts of climate change while growing our economy and creating new homegrown jobs. Several legislators leaned in this year, and we look forward to working with Speaker Chopp and other legislative leaders next session to pass this policy. One hundred percent fossil-free electricity is both necessary and achievable, and we will keep at this until it is adopted into law.”

Public Support for Climate Action

Polling conducted on behalf of Audubon Washington and Climate Solutions late last year revealed strong constituent support for 100 percent clean electricity legislation. Two out of three voters said they supported a policy that would phase out coal-generated electricity and accelerate the transition to electricity generation from solar, wind, hydroelectric and other clean and renewable resources. Nearly half of respondents said they would be more likely to support their state legislator if they voted for this measure in the 2018 legislative session. Thousands of Washingtonians contacted their elected officials throughout the two-month session, and hundreds of constituents from 44 of 49 districts traveled to Olympia to advocate for the policy in January.