Washington State Government
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!
by Seth Zuckerman on August 29, 2016Lummi bring totem pole to Sioux pipeline protest, sea-level rise may claim 1.9 million US homes by 2100, EV is to internal combustion as cell is to landline, and more news of the week in climate and clean energy. Read more
by Seth Zuckerman on August 22, 2016US finalizes fuel economy standards for big trucks, Louisiana floods made more likely by global warming, Washington rolls out smart grid pilot projects, and more news of the week in climate and clean energy. Read more
by Vlad Gutman-Britten on July 11, 2016Washington state officials continue working on a new set of rules to cap carbon emissions. Getting ir right will require setting more ambitious goals, in line with current science—and we'll still need more tools to protect our climate and our future. Read more
by Seth Zuckerman on June 27, 2016Union Pacific track maintenance blamed for oil-train derailment, VW will pay nearly $15 billion to settle US claims in emissions deceit scandal, rooftop solar spreads in Africa, and more news of the week in climate and clean energy. Read more
by Seth Zuckerman on June 6, 2016SEIU votes to make climate action a priority, California tests zero-net-energy homes, Australian coal CEOs defect to solar and energy efficiency, and more news of the week in climate and clean energy. Read more
by Vlad Gutman-Britten on June 2, 2016Washington's Clean Air Rule will reduce climate-damaging carbon emissions from the state's top polluters. That's a step in the right direction! Read more
by Kimberly Larson on June 1, 2016Olympia, WA – The Department of Ecology on Wednesday released an updated draft of the Clean Air Rule, requiring reductions in carbon pollution from Washington’s largest polluters. Environmental and clean energy advocates expressed support for a number of key improvements to the language while calling for additional changes to ensure that the rule supports clean energy and helps Washington meet its long-term sustainability goals. Read more
by Seth Zuckerman on May 23, 2016Bernie Sanders names Bill McKibben to Democratic platform committee, cows treated to belch less methane, climate refugees leave California for the Northwest, and more news of the week in climate and clean energy. Read more
by Seth Zuckerman on May 2, 2016South African concentrating solar plant generates round the clock, Ukraine marks Chernobyl anniversary, solar auction hits new low under 3 cents per kilowatt-hour, and more news of the week in climate and clean energy. Read more
by Ross Macfarlane... on May 2, 2016A group of Washington State youth known as the “climate kids” just won an important victory in their bid to force the state to protect their future from catastrophic climate change. Read more