Washington Governor Wants Serious Action on Climate Change

After finding out that Washington State is not on track to meet its binding climate targets, Governor Inslee signed an executive order that creates a process for success.

His goals: implement cap-and-trade, stop using coal, advance renewable energy and fuels, and cut state government emissions.

Although he needs legislation to pass, Inslee’s executive order sets up an action plan to get there. "We will engage the right people, consider the right options, ask the right questions and come to the right answers – answers that work for Washington," he says.

Jay Inslee

Inslee took action because legislators have been deadlocked along party lines on how to reduce emissions. State law requires that greenhouse gas emissions return to 1990 levels by 2020, and for greater reductions in 2035 and 2050.

Last year, Washington signed a pact with California, Oregon and British Columbia to harmonize their policies to fight climate change and promote clean energy.

Action Plan: 

Cap-And-Trade: a Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce composed of 21 leaders from business, labor, health and public interest groups will recommend the design and implementation of the program. Due in November, the results will inform legislation introduced for 2015.

He asked the taskforce to include strategies that help energy-intensive industries transition away from carbon-based energy sources. And it will include ways that offset the costs to individuals and businesses. 

Mo More Coal for Electricity: several state agencies will work with key utilities to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the use of coal to produce electricity.

Clean Transportation: under the leadership of the state’s Department of Transportation, state agencies and local governments will devise and promote strategies that electrify the transportation system, such as greater use of mass transit. 

The Office of Financial Management will lead a technical feasibility study and cost-benefit analysis of whether implementing a clean fuel standard makes sense.

While a cap on carbon emissions requires legislative approval, a clean fuel standard could be implemented through Executive Order. The previous governor pushed for carbon trading but could get it through the legislature in 2009.

Renewable Energy/ Energy Efficiency: The Department of Commerce will work with Washington State University and others to create a smart building program that significantly boost efficiency, and another program that integrates solar more rapidly. 

Reduce the Footprint of State Government: another goal "resource stewardship" throughout state government. The Department of Enterprise Services will lead efforts to reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency.

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