In the final days of this year’s session, the legislature reached agreement on several historic pieces of legislation to decrease carbon emissions in our state and protect the environment.

Combatting climate change

The Climate Commitment Act (SB 5126) puts our state on a path to net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. The cap-and-invest legislation places a hard cap on carbon emissions and lowers that cap year by year.  It makes significant investments in new infrastructure, transit, agriculture, forestry and shipbuilding projects. The Climate Commitment Act prioritizes the needs of historically overburdened communities, including establishment of an Environmental Justice Council.

The Legislature also voted to adopt a clean fuel standard (HB 1091) to lower the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases coming out of vehicle tailpipes through 2035. The legislation will create incentives for the use of cleaner technologies, so biodiesel and renewable natural gas will get a boost over gasoline and diesel. The standards are similar to those enacted in Oregon, California and British Columbia.

Environmental wins

The Legislature passed several other important measures to protect our environment this year, including important environmental justice policy and exciting recycling progress:

  • SB 5141 (the HEAL Act) establishes processes to dismantle disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards suffered by communities of color and low-income communities that results in a higher risk of adverse health outcomes.
  • HB 1050 establishes thresholds to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fluorinated gases and address refrigerant emissions.
  • HB 1168 makes historic investments in forest health and wildfire suppression and prevention.
  • SB 5022 improves our recycling system and eliminates tons of styrofoam from our waste stream.
  • HB 1287 prepares us for a zero-emissions future by planning upgrades to electricity supply and charging infrastructure.
  • SB 5253 protects pollinator habitat.
  • SB 5145 bans seabed mining, a destructive industrial process that literally sucks up the ocean floor, wreaking havoc on habitat and marine life.

Thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter. I will continue to share updates on news from the 2021 legislative session in the coming weeks. If you missed my previous updates on police accountability or early learning and childcare, click here.