As a state legislator and as a parent, I feel responsible to protect our environment for generations to come. The global climate crisis caused by runaway carbon emissions has caused our state to experience unprecedented heat waves, catastrophic wildfires, and severe flooding. We know we must take bold action now to avoid even worse damage. I am proud that our state is leading by example. This week’s newsletter provides an update on the Legislature’s work to address the climate crisis.
Climate Commitment Act
Last year, we passed the Climate Commitment Act, a bill that implements a statewide cap-and-invest program to cut carbon pollution. Washington is only the second state to enact a limit on overall carbon emissions. The program requires emitters to obtain emissions allowances equal to their covered greenhouse gas emissions. This year we passed additional legislation to improve and speed up implementation so it can begin by next January. We also strengthened the law by ensuring tribal governments have a larger role in planning. Washington is building a model that other states and countries can learn from and replicate to reduce emissions and embrace clean energy.
Reducing Carbon Pollution
This year we made several budget investments to help reduce emissions, including more than $100 million to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure and a mapping tool that provides locations and essential information for charging and refueling infrastructure. Another $57 million will be used for solar energy infrastructure projects, including electric vehicle parking canopies and solar energy projects that beneﬁt low-income communities.
In addition, we passed numerous climate-related bills this year:
- House Bill 1280 will ensure the design of public facilities includes standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- House Bill 1619 will reduce energy use by requiring high eﬀiciency standards in consumer appliances.
- House Bill 1663 will help prevent methane emissions from landﬁlls by utilizing gas capture and control systems.
- Senate Bill 5722 will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from large buildings.
- House Bill 1799 will help keep organic waste out of our landﬁlls and direct surplus food to food banks.
- Senate Bill 5910 will speed up the availability and use of renewable hydrogen in Washington state.
- House Bill 1768 will make it easier to complete public energy conservation projects that pay for themselves with the energy savings.
This year’s supplemental operating budget included more than $180 million for salmon recovery projects across the state, including efforts to restore riparian habitat, to improve biodiversity, and to create shade. I was also proud to support Senate Bill 5619, which aims to conserve and restore 10,000 acres of Washington’s kelp forests and eel grass meadows by 2040.
Thanks for taking the time to read this update. If you missed my recent newsletters on public safety or education, they are available on my website. As always, feel free to reach out to me at Jamie.Pedersen@leg.wa.gov.