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.

[The 2023 Legislative session is over! Here's our wrapup on how Legislators succeeded in taking climate action—amd what work remains to be done]

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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

Carbon fee wins support, green investment up 16%

by Seth Zuckerman on January 12, 2015

Study says which fossil-fuel deposits should stay buried, Republicans back solar energy in Florida, Keystone fight emboldens opponents of other Big…

Cut carbon pollution, create clean energy jobs: Legislative priorities 2015

by Jessica Finn Coven on January 12, 2015

Climate change—and climate action—top the list of big issues before this year's Washington State Legislature. 

2014 ends–and 2015 begins–with climate action

by Ben Serrurier on December 23, 2014

2014--the year which saw the largest climate action march ever, plus victories over big coal and advances in clean energy--is coming to a close with…

Carbon price at work in CA & EU; now floated for WA

by Seth Zuckerman on December 22, 2014

Gov. Inslee’s carbon pollution fee wins praise, import tariffs split the PV industry, some car-makers bet on hydrogen fuel cells over battery EVs,…

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by Climate Solutions on December 17, 2014

Washington environmental and clean energy economy leaders respond to Governor Jay Inslee's climate action announcement, and praise the vision of a…

Let big polluters pay the price of pollution

by Jessica Finn Coven on December 17, 2014

For several years, the Northwest has opposed big coal's slew of coal export proposals. Thanks to you, we stopped four out of six. Now, we have the…

Under Lima pact, all nations to cut carbon...voluntarily

by Seth Zuckerman on December 15, 2014

Cheap petroleum leads firms to stop oil drilling, South Carolina gets net-metering for solar, carbon taxes get backing from studies in Oregon and…

Clean fuels: the benefits add up

by Ben Serrurier on December 15, 2014

Instead of handing over $14 billion to Big Oil every year and paying the price for fossil fuel pollution, why don't we invest a portion of that in…

Clean power prices drop, installations and orders up

by Seth Zuckerman on November 24, 2014

Renewable fuels advance; carbon pricing on the docket; increasing opposition to oil-drilling; China to cap coal by 2020; global warming impacts far…

Taskforce recommends carbon pricing for Washington

by Ben Serrurier on November 18, 2014

Ending polluters' free ride is the key recommendation of Governor Inslee's task force on carbon emissions.

New money, policies and promises for climate action

by Seth Zuckerman on November 17, 2014

Reverberations of the U.S.-China climate commitments keep echoing, federal clean energy fund turns a profit, lightweight solar panels you can unroll…

Few bright spots for climate in midterm election results

by Seth Zuckerman on November 10, 2014

A few victories soften the blow of an otherwise painful midterm election, Oregon NGO cleanses its portfolio of fossil fuels, Brazil attracts cheap…

Carbon pricing gets a boost

by Seth Zuckerman on October 6, 2014

Gov. Inslee floats a carbon tax as a solution to the state’s education funding problem, a coal mine sells for $2, mayors announce a nationwide…

Climate action now: Let's keep making history!

by Alex Epstein on October 6, 2014

After last month's giant climate marches, it's time to make sure the Northwest continues to lead the country towards a clean energy future. Add your…

Renewable standards turn out to be a bargain

by Seth Zuckerman on June 16, 2014

The surprising role of deep-sea fishes in sequestering carbon, Tesla opens up its patents, Volkswagen brings a 260-mpg car to market, and much more.

Walking together: Washington's road ahead for climate action

Washingtonians are ready for climate action. Having more voices and interests actively engaged in shaping climate action doesn’t make our task simpler, but it does make it more likely we’ll succeed. That’s an affirmation of the climate movement’s progress and a tremendously hopeful sign for the work ahead.

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Economic security is a core climate solution

Submitted by KC Golden on Tue, 10/25/2016 - 08:44

“Climate solutions” aren’t just about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We need to wage and win a clean energy revolution, to go all the way to a clean energy future.  But in an economy rife with inequality and insecurity, such a sweeping transition is hard for most folks to contemplate. 

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Washington unveils rules to reduce global warming pollution

"We appreciate Governor Inslee’s ongoing commitment to putting Washington on a path to a clean energy transition," said Climate Solutions' Vlad Gutman-Britten. "The Clean Air Rule is only the first step to creating a robust policy that drives pollution reduction and invests in creating tens of thousands of jobs in a new, sustainable economy."

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