Two major environmental bills passed late Thursday by the Senate would put the state on a path to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and air pollution while also funding critical green energy efforts in transportation.
“Climate change is the moral, economic and social issue of our time,” said Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), chair of the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee. “We know we are currently not on track to meet the state’s science-based statutory limits on emissions and we know we all share a public responsibility to act for our grandchildren’s grandchildren. This legislation puts us on the path to meaningfully meet our targets and provides a market-based framework for Washington to build a 21st century, net-zero emissions economy.”
Carlyle’s Senate Bill 5126, The Climate Commitment Act, would establish a cap-and-invest system to steadily reduce carbon emissions while investing in clean jobs, environmental justice and climate resilience. House Bill 1091, sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Seattle), would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by lowering the carbon intensity of fuels used in transportation. The two measures, introduced in partnership with Gov. Jay Inslee, are built to meet state goals for carbon reduction as well as international goals set by the Paris Accords.
Both bills fit holistically with two other measures before the Legislature this year — the HEAL Act and a major transportation revenue package — to establish a clean fuels standard and fund capital and transportation investments to modernize Washington’s infrastructure. The HEAL Act, SB 5141, would reduce environmental and health disparities while improving the health of Washington state residents by implementing the recommendations of the environmental justice task force. The transportation revenue package, SB 5482 and SB 5483, would use funds from the Climate Commitment Act to increase funding for transit programs and a wide range of other green initiatives.
“We’ve known for some time that we’ve needed to make substantial investments in clean transportation, carbon reduction and mitigation, and air quality improvements,” Carlyle said. “But we also know that these investments must be made in ways that addresses longstanding economic and racial inequities. Environmental progress cannot be pursued with a blind eye to environmental justice.”
To that end, Carlyle said his legislation is structured to prioritize the disproportionate environmental impacts experienced by vulnerable populations and marginalized communities.
SB 5126 and HB 1091 passed the Senate on 25-24 and 27-20 votes, respectively. SB 5141 passed the Senate on a 28-21 vote March 1 and awaits a vote in the House. The transportation revenue package is scheduled to be heard Monday by the Senate Transportation Committee.