A Climate Plan for
There are few things we value more as Washingtonians than the natural beauty of our state. Our ocean, mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers sustain much of what we hold dear, like abundant fish and wildlife, clean air, cool, clean water, and outdoor recreation.
Protecting our environment requires a commitment from all of us – government agencies, our innovative companies and workers, and our families commuting to work or running errands. It’s the Washington way, and it works!
When it comes to reducing greenhouse gases and adapting to clean energy, Washington is already leading the pack. We now have the 7th cleanest state economy in the country and boast over 100,000 green jobs. We drive less and use less gas per person than almost any other state, largely because we have one of the highest rates of public transit use and carpooling. And, we have the highest number of electric vehicle charging stations per capita in the country. As a result, Washington’s carbon dioxide emissions are lower now than they were 25 years ago and account for less than 0.3% of the global emissions.
We share Governor Inslee’s desire to protect our environment for future generations. So, it’s disappointing that the Governor wants to step in and create a complicated, government-run financial program to regulate carbon emissions by coercing Washingtonians, not collaborating with them. His solution is to make Washington families pay more to keep the lights on at home, buy gas for their car, and put food on the table, with little guarantee of actually helping the environment. This isn’t the Washington way, and it’s especially harmful to the most vulnerable among us: the poor, elderly, and those on fixed incomes.
Thinking globally, we can accomplish more if we continue to collaborate on solutions that directly address greenhouse gas emissions in Washington without prompting increased emissions elsewhere. Here is our agenda for an even lower carbon future.
Washington has the environmental ethos, technological know-how, and resources to bring new solutions to the world and create jobs here at home. This needs to be our top priority.
- Promote public policies that encourage private sector investments in carbon reducing technologies and carbon sequestration
- Support Clean Energy Funds to provide resources to promising technologies
- Invest in Washington university research that can lead to the commercialization of low- or zero-carbon goods and services
With the help of new zero- or lower-emission transportation modes, we’ve been able to hold the line on carbon emissions from transportation. But, the sector still represents the largest single source of Washington’s greenhouse gases. Without a plan to address the largest source of emissions, we will not continue to make significant progress.
- Promote research and incentives in lower-emission transportation technologies. Improve alternative fuel infrastructure, such as electric vehicle charging or natural gas fueling stations
- Invest in road congestion relief in order to reduce unnecessary vehicle idling
- Reauthorize commuter trip reduction program to keep single passenger commuters off the road
- Examine state regulations that inhibit operational opportunities for emission reductions and recommend reforms where appropriate
Nearly 70% of the electricity consumed in Washington is generated by clean, renewable hydropower. In addition, Washington has already taken steps to close our only coal-fired power plant and adopted the toughest emissions performance standards in the country for natural gas-fired power plants. And Washington now ranks in the nation’s Top 10 for installed wind generation capacity.
Under the federal Clean Air Act, federal regulators may mandate further reductions in carbon emissions electrical generating facilities using fossil fuels, but Washington can still do more to encourage low- or zero-carbon generation.
- Address need for more baseload, lower-carbon electricity generation by promoting fish friendly hydro, scalable nuclear, biomass and natural gas. Natural gas emits half the carbon of coal, and nuclear already provides 10% of Washington’s electricity
- As we continue to increase our renewable energy sources, we must also invest in our power grid and infrastructure to ensure greater reliability and efficiency
Over the last 15 years, Washington industries, commercial businesses and families have dramatically reduced their energy consumption through investments in efficiencies. This, in turn, has reduced direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a major part of our success, and we should encourage more of what we know works.
- Incentivize investments in energy efficiency projects and fuel switching in the industrial sector where environmental returns are the greatest
- Fund Washington State University’s Energy Program to foster new energy and industrial efficiency solutions
- Adopt performance-based standards in the energy code as opposed to one size fits all requirements
- Above-code building programs bring innovative energy efficiencies to construction are often not recognized by local building codes but should be
- Increase funding for low-income household energy efficiency programs, and expand eligibility to cover structural integrity in conjunction with weatherization
Research & Adaptation
Despite our best efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Washington and lead by example, it’s a global issue and we may need to adapt to a changing climate. Investments in research and infrastructure could be prudent hedges against reduced snow pack, early runoff and rising sea levels should they materialize as predicted.
- Support research, monitoring, and forecasting to minimize localized impacts from changing climate
Help share our plan. This infographic shows some ways we propose to continue to protect our environment for future generations.