2023: A New Focus for Climate Action in Washington

2023 marks a significant shift in climate policy, from a focus on passing major climate policies to now implementing these transformative laws. Washington has among the strongest policy frameworks to transition away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy, thanks to the Legislature’s passage of the Clean Energy Transformation Act, Clean Fuels Standard, and Climate Commitment Act (CCA), which will be bolstered by the Federal Infrastructure Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act. As the Legislature invests in clean energy generated by the CCA, it is critical to spend the dollars wisely to transition to a carbon-free future while reducing the cost burden on vulnerable communities.

[Read our 2023 WA Legislative Priorities in PDF form]

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1. Invest in Climate Action

Washington’s transformative Climate Commitment Act goes into effect on January 1st, 2023 and its cap-and-invest program is expected to bring in billions of dollars for climate and clean energy. As the Legislature invests in climate action using new funds coming from the CCA, it is critical to spend dollars wisely and ensure an equitable transition to a carbon-free future.

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2. Zero-Emissions Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles

While greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles have remained steady, climate pollution from medium- and heavy-duty (MHD) vehicles - such as trucks, vans, and buses - has more than doubled since 1990. Diesel exhaust is responsible for 70% of the cancer risk from air pollution in Washington, so investments in this sector will also reduce toxic air pollution, which is largely concentrated in overburdened communities. Transitioning to zero-emissions MHD vehicles swiftly to meet our emissions targets requires a multi-pronged approach to reduce upfront costs and ensure adequate infrastructure. The Legislature should dedicate: $130 million towards a point-of-sale vehicle incentive program to mitigate upfront costs and incentivize sale of over 1,000 zero-emissions vehicles per year. $80 million in incentives for MHD charging infrastructure (e.g., at fleet depots) to facilitate large-scale conversion. $40 million in innovative demonstration projects to develop the market for earlier-stage applications, support zero-emissions vehicle deployment in sectors that require more assistance, and showcase Washington’s leadership.

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3. Clean Homes and Buildings

Washington’s building emissions are growing at a faster rate than any other source and have major implications for the health of those who work and live within them. To ensure equitable access to heat pumps and other electric appliances, the Legislature should provide incentives for low- and middle-income (LMI) households, schools in overburdened communities, and small businesses. To align with the State Energy Strategy, the electrification incentive program should be funded at $200 million for the 2023-2024 biennium and increase over time to meet our 2030 decarbonization goal. More specifically: $130 million to mitigate upfront costs of new electric appliance purchases and installation, with a tiered incentive structure to prioritize low-income households and ensure the most overburdened communities can benefit from this program. $70 million to fund a commercial rebate program, targeting schools in overburdened communities, minority-owned businesses, and buildings in low-income areas.

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4. Clean Energy Siting

Meeting our critical 95% greenhouse gas reduction target requires rapid development of clean energy. However, expansion of clean energy comes with a broad set of challenges: from the impact on wildlife, environment, and tribal resources of land-intensive energy sources like solar, to the potential for project delays during the permitting processes and environmental reviews. The Legislature should increase the state’s capacity to examine a growing number of clean energy project proposals, including additional funding and staffing for state agencies, the use of a programmatic environmental review across regions and technologies in the state, and a streamlined permitting application. These proposals should be paired with the creation of clean energy zones that identify least-conflict lands to minimize impact on the environment, communities, and tribal land while providing additional certainty to developers.

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5. Transportation Accessibility and Land Use Planning

Creating a clean and equitable transportation system requires a multifaceted approach that extends beyond electrification to reducing reliance on passenger vehicles and expanding transportation options. To do so, we need adequate housing near jobs, services, and transit. The Legislature should facilitate transit oriented development, end exclusionary zoning, and amend the Growth Management Act such that all jurisdictions must plan for climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Washington State Government

Time for WA to go big on investing in climate action

by Joëlle Robinson on January 17, 2023

The urgency of the climate crisis requires bold and meaningful action every single year. In 2023, Washington's Legislature must prioritize the health…

🎬 How we can cut buildings' contribution to climate change

by Jonathan Lee on January 12, 2023

Homes, offices, and other buildings are a major source of climate and air pollution. Thankfully, the best solutions will save you money on energy…

What’s on in WA for climate action this year

by Kelly Hall on January 9, 2023

The 2023 Washington Legislative session is underway. Here are the major climate and clean energy issues Climate Solutions is tracking this year.

Clean Cars mean the West Coast can breathe easier

by Jonathan Lee on December 19, 2022

By 2035, every new car sold in the states of Washington, Oregon, and California will be powered by 100% clean energy.

Clean Fuel Standard coming to Washington State

by Stephanie Noren on November 29, 2022

Washington finalizes Clean Fuel Standard to reduce climate pollution, protect health, and benefit local economy with implementation beginning Jan 1,…

Clean cars, Washington, our health and our climate = a winning combo

by Leah Missik on November 16, 2022

More electric vehicles are coming to Washington and they're a critical part of our clean transportation future

Washington will build all new homes with heat pumps!

by Joëlle Robinson on November 11, 2022

Friday, November 4thwas a big, great day in our efforts for cleaner, healthier homes and buildings!

Climate election 2022. Was that a wave of some kind?

by Jonathan Lawson on November 10, 2022

Climate election 2022: neither a red nor a green wave Los Angeles Times  reporter

Washington will build new homes with heat pumps

by Climate Solutions on November 4, 2022

The Washington State Building Code Council voted today to adopt new statewide residential building codes that will drive the transition to safe and…

The wheels on the electric school bus go ‘round, across the country

by Jonathan Lee on October 28, 2022

In this week's Climate Cast: Electric school buses across the country, air quality woes, upcoming elections, rising methane pollution, and holding NW…

A major effort and momentum for all-electric homes in WA

by Joëlle Robinson on October 26, 2022

An incredible showing, representing the fabric and diversity of our climate community, raising the volume for clean and healthy homes

Clean transportation hits the road in Wenatchee, WA

by Leah Missik on October 26, 2022

Highlights from the Clean Vehicle showcase in Wenatchee earlier this month

Getting off oil to get around WA

by Leah Missik on September 7, 2022

The impacts of our dependence on fossil fuels are becoming clearer all the time.

How the West is One

by Jonathan Lee on August 26, 2022

The US West leads the way on electric vehicles and clean tech, more details about the landmark federal climate bill, melting roads, and NW Natural…

Hot ways to stay cool: take our buildings all-electric

by Joëlle Robinson on July 29, 2022

WA State has an opportunity to ensure the most climate friendly state residential energy codes in the country.

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