2020: Advancing Climate Progress in Washington 

As Australia burns and Indonesia floods, as our emissions continue to increase, as the impacts and threat of climate change continue to become more real in our everyday lives, we need our legislature to accelerate our transition off fossil fuels and to the clean, sustainable economy we know is within reach.

There are numerous bills that your Climate Solutions team is working on and monitoring this session. Here are five important pieces of legislation to highlight:

Clean Fuel Standard

The single most significant carbon reducing policy the Washington Legislature is considering this year is the Clean Fuel Standard. The policy passed the House in 2019 and didn’t make it through the Senate. The Standard would reduce approximately 6 million tons of climate pollution per year by 2035, and would help deploy as many as 700,000 electric cars, trucks and buses by 2030 according to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Washington is the last jurisdiction on the West Coast without such a program—British Columbia, Oregon, and California have been reaping the benefits of clean fuels deployment for years.

In addition to its climate benefits, the transition off fossil fuels spurred by the Clean Fuel Standard will improve public health and quality of life throughout Washington. Transportation fossil fuels dump into our air tons of diesel particulates, NOx, volatile organic compounds like benzene, and other dangerous chemicals; directly contributing to respiratory disease like lung cancer and asthma. The potential to cut this pollution is the reason that medical organizations such as the Washington State Medical Association, the Washington Academy of Family Physicians, the American Lung Association, the Washington State Nurses Association and others have identified the Clean Fuel Standard as a legislative priority this year.

Consumer Choice for Fossil-Free Homes

Washington’s shareholder-owned electric utilities are currently allowed to provide financial help to their customers to purchase new clean, electric heat pumps and water heaters. Unfortunately, our customer-owned utilities don’t have clear authority from our legislature to do the same if the utility customer currently uses fossil gas to heat their home or building. This uneven playing field locks customers into continued use of expensive and unsafe polluting heat sources—wood stoves, heating oil, and fossil gas furnaces—that contribute to poor air quality, prevent us from achieving climate goals, and are often much more expensive to operate than clean and efficient electric alternatives. Even the newest fossil gas appliances release carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and NOx into the homes of their owners, and half of homes with gas stoves that don’t have a range hood have indoor air quality that would be illegal under federal law if it happened outside.

Restoring a balance between electric utilities owned by shareholders and those owned by the public is a matter of fairness. If a customer wants to make the switch to a climate friendly, healthier, and cheaper-to-operate option, they should be able to get help from their utility no matter who owns it.

Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate

Ten states have adopted laws that require auto manufacturers to provide electric vehicles to their residents and to achieve certain sales figures over time. Our neighbors in California, Oregon, Colorado and elsewhere have similar laws; it’s time for Washington to join the pack. Our state has some of the highest demand for EVs across the country, and our legislature has put millions of dollars into incentives, infrastructure and more. We need to make sure the auto industry does its part to help customers buy the zero emission vehicles they want.

Transportation for All

Climate Solutions will join with a range of partners to ensure that future transportation funding is climate smart and equitable. We need new progressive sources of revenue to build the system we need, we must expand our commitment to transit and help ensure that people have options outside of car reliance to get around, and we must guarantee that our revenue and spending proposals help reduce carbon, instead of our status quo reliance on fossil fuels. We’ll work with many stakeholders to set the state on sure footing with stable, growing sources of revenue dedicated to transporting people and goods in the most sustainable way possible. 

Limiting Greenhouse Gas Pollution

In 2008 Washington State adopted greenhouse gas limits. As the climate crisis has accelerated and the science has improved, we’ve learned that these levels are insufficient to achieve a stable climate system. This year, Governor Inslee supports legislation that will call for 95% emission reductions compared to 1990 levels by 2050, alongside a net-zero emissions requirement that highlights the need for natural climate solutions that pull carbon out of the air.
 
There are numerous other policies to track, including a bill requiring companies like Uber and Lyft to use more electric vehicles, community solar support, and more. We need all of this in a short time frame—will you help us? Contact your legislators and tell them you expect them to pass the Clean Fuel Standard and other critical climate legislation this year.

We have no time to lose!

Washington State Government

Climate Leaders Live: What's next for WA in 2021?

by Stephanie Noren on October 27, 2020

After you vote... join our conversation with Transportation Choices Coalition and Front & Centered to talk about what's next for climate action…

A Win for transit riders, disability community, clean air and less congestion 

by Climate Solutions on October 15, 2020

WA's Supreme Court strikes down controversial initiative that threatened transportation improvements and investments across the state 

Take the Climate Voter Pledge!

by Jonathan Gates on October 11, 2020

One of the strongest ways to address the climate crisis head-on is with your vote.

It doesn't have to feel like Life on Mars

by Gregg Small on September 10, 2020

Our climate movement is more unified than ever, but we're reaching a critical point where we must change a lot of things all at once. Let's do this…

3 ways to cope with the smoke

by Jonathan Gates on September 9, 2020

If you live west of the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest, you likely woke up yesterday to an awful late-summer surprise (if you weren't under…

Roads ahead for clean transportation in Washington

by Leah Missik on March 19, 2020

Washington must address the climate pollution that comes from our largest source of it—transportation. 

What happened to our climate leadership?

by Vlad Gutman-Britten on March 17, 2020

Washington Senate Democrats allowed the most significant climate policy proposal this year—the Clean Fuel Standard—to languish and die.

2020 Washington State legislative session ends in climate failure

by Climate Solutions on March 13, 2020

Washington Senate Democrats handed veto power to a small minority of its caucus, and failed to take action to cut transportation pollution—ignoring a…

Senate Transportation Committee next to consider WA Clean Fuels bill

by Climate Solutions on February 25, 2020

Efforts to make available cleaner transportation fuels in Washington State move forward as bill passes out of a key Senate committee

Climate wins still possible in Washington Legislature

by Vlad Gutman-Britten on February 21, 2020

For climate progress and clean energy, here's where things stand with less than three weeks remaining in Washington’s legislative session.

Climate Leaders Live: Building a Clean Energy Future Together

by Teresa Myers on February 5, 2020

Our first-ever online fundraising event! Special guests include Microsoft's Chief Environmental Officer Lucas Joppa and WA House Speaker Laurie…

Why doesn't Washington have a Clean Fuel Standard (yet)?

by Climate Solutions on January 27, 2020

Tailpipe exhaust is responsible for nearly half of Washington state’s climate and air pollution--call it a sin of emission. We can reverse the trend…

Our plan for 2020: more climate progress in WA

by Kelly Hall on January 15, 2020

Over the course of a quick eight weeks, Washington lawmakers will consider hundreds of proposals. Here are five climate bills we need to keep top…

Maintaining hope in the age of climate change

by Devon Downeysmith on December 20, 2019

What it's like to read climate news every day: some days, it’s inspiring. Other days, it weighs heavy on the heart.

Oregon and California lead on climate with clean fuels. What about Washington?

by Joëlle Robinson on November 20, 2019

Washington has a great responsibility to lead on climate...and a great opportunity to do so right now—by taking action on transporation emissions.

3 ways to cope with the smoke

If you live west of the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest, you likely woke up yesterday to an awful late-summer surprise (if you weren't under wildfire threat already): a blanket of unhealthy wildfire smoke.
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