OLYMPIA, Wash. (July 15, 2015) – Washington Climate Collaborative, a broad coalition of farmers, workers, and employers, today celebrates Gov. Jay Inslee’s signing of a transportation package that provides $16.1 billion in new state infrastructure investments. The new investments will help reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector, which is currently responsible for 47 percent of all state carbon dioxide emissions. Gov. Inslee’s agreement to set aside his Low Carbon Fuel Standard was widely credited with making the bipartisan transportation agreement possible.
“There is tremendous opportunity to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector through investments in congestion relief, transit, and alternative fuels,” said Cheryl Stewart, executive director of Inland Northwest AGC. “Unlike a Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which amounts to a regressive tax on all drivers, this new law takes a balanced approach to reducing carbon emissions in transportation.”
The bill includes $8.8 billion for new road projects. For the duration of the legislative session, the Washington Climate Collaborative has been urging lawmakers to pass a transportation funding bill that alleviates traffic bottlenecks, thereby reducing idle time and lowering our carbon footprint. By finishing roads such as the North-South Freeway in Spokane and SR 167 in Puget Sound, drivers will have more direct routes, which will reduce drive times and emissions.
The bill also includes $1 billion for non-road projects, including bike lanes, pedestrian walkways, and transit. It gives Sound Transit authority to ask voters for additional funding to improve transit, and it provides an extension of the successful Commuter Tax Credit, which helps keep single-occupancy vehicles off the road during peak hours. In a state that already ranks 7th in the nation for public transit use and fewest solo commuters, all of these investments continue our commitment to providing multiple, low-carbon transportation options.
Finally, the bill helps accelerate the conversion of commercial vehicle fleets to alternative fuels, such as natural gas and biofuels. Washington employers and transit agencies have been at the forefront of converting commercial vehicles, and the tax credit will help eliminate the cost gap that often inhibits investments in alternative fuels.
“We are one of a growing number of Washington companies finding a way to reduce carbon emissions through low-carbon investments in our vehicles,” said Steve Salins of Shuttle Express, a Puget Sound-based shuttle company which has converted its fleet to clean-burning propane. “This new law will help make low-carbon fuel conversions even more viable and that, in turn, will keep transportation providers on track to hit state carbon emission targets.”
Through collaborative policies that have support from both Republicans and Democrats, we can strengthen our economy and reduce our carbon emissions. We applaud the legislature and Gov. Inslee for their efforts and look forward to continuing to work together in the future.