Inslee announces climate package for 2022

Gov. Jay Inslee today announced his climate proposals for the 2022 legislative session, which will bolster Washington’s leadership in clean energy and economic growth. The governor put forward a $626 million investment in a climate strategy that will:

  • Decarbonize the building sector.
  • Successfully implement the Climate Commitment Act.
  • Invest more in clean transportation.
  • Build the clean energy future here in Washington.

“We have made good progress in our state, but it is not enough, and we must do more. Now is the time to act boldly and quickly — to protect the planet and to grow our economy with clean energy jobs,” Inslee said.

Inslee was joined by legislators and partners, including Sens. Reuven Carlyle and Marko Liias, Reps. Debra Lekanoff, Alex Ramel, David Hackney, and Mark Riker of the Washington State Building & Construction Trades Council.

Brad Smith, Microsoft president recorded a video to share at the event.

The event was held at the new Capitol Campus childcare center which will be a zero emissions building. The governor and other speakers stood in front of solar panels produced by Silfab and supplied by South Sound Solar, both Washington companies.

“The solar panels on display include the original made in WA Itek panel, and its successor, an Elite SilFab panel now made in Bellingham. Also on display was Sunpower panel,” said Kirk L. Haffner, president of South Sound Solar.

Decarbonize buildings

The governor is proposing legislation and investments that help the state meet required greenhouse gas limits updated and adopted by the Legislature in 2020. The state has made good progress, but it is projected that more than 6 million metric tons of annual carbon emissions will still need to be removed to meet the state’s 2030 emissions target. Strengthening energy codes for new buildings puts us on track to achieve zero-emission new construction.

To tackle emissions from existing buildings, Inslee proposes expanding the state’s existing building energy performance standards to all buildings over 20,000 square feet, including large multifamily buildings. Higher standards in these buildings are needed when it comes to energy usage, and the governor’s proposal includes incentives for owners to reach those standards.

“At Glasgow’s UN Climate Summit, the governor and I shared on the world stage the essential role that Washington and leading states play in building a 21st Century clean jobs economy with a low carbon footprint. We are showing that evidence-based best practices work. Today’s package — combined with a focus on implementation of the policies we have adopted — show a pathway toward a reliable, affordable, equitable and sustainable energy future,” said Sen. Reuven Carlyle.

Currently, only some utilities are allowed to use ratepayer funds for incentive programs to switch customers from fossil fuels to clean, efficient electric space and water heating. The governor proposes allowing consumer-owned utilities to have the ability to run similar programs for their customers, providing all Washingtonians the ability to switch from fossil fuel heating to electric heating powered by renewable energy.

To meet the requirements of the 2021 Climate Commitment Act (CCA), which requires gas utilities to reduce emissions in line with the state’s statutory greenhouse gas limits, Inslee proposes a bill that will require gas utilities to submit decarbonization plans to the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) every four years.

The budget proposal also funds capital projects that will help reduce emissions in state facilities and buildings housing low-income families.

“Reducing carbon emissions in construction is both good for our planet and growing our state’s green economy,” Inslee said. “With the right leadership we can support investment, reduce emissions and keep workers in good-paying jobs.”

Gov. Jay Inslee announces his 2022 climate proposals, Dec. 13, 2021 (Office of the Governor).

Successfully implement the Climate Commitment Act

Washington’s landmark 2021 climate law, the Climate Commitment Act, is an economywide cap and invest program with a declining cap on climate pollution that funds major investments in clean transportation, clean energy and natural climate solutions.

The governor’s proposal would create the Office of Climate Commitment Accountability to align and strengthen existing laws, rules and policies; prioritize funding to reduce emissions and address climate risks; and comprehensively engage overburdened communities. The office would work with agencies to develop and implement a biennial strategic climate workplan with performance milestones and accountability measures. It would be asked to identify how the state can improve state law to support the state’s climate commitment.

Inslee is introducing legislation that provides a stronger, clearer consultation process with tribes on Climate Commitment Act investments. It includes protecting tribal resources and sites that are sacred to tribes and elevating disputes to the governor and elected tribal leaders including engaging in mediation if needed.

“The legislation requires early notification to tribes that may be impacted by projects and will fund support for tribal technical capacity and additional staff in the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs to help facilitate this process,” Inslee said

The state is proposing legislation required by the Climate commitment Act to map out the long-term pollution reduction pathway for emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industries. Inslee’s budget proposes a $50 million grant program to help those industries implement necessary decarbonization strategies.

The governor’s budget calls for additional investment to expand air quality monitoring in overburdened communities, which is a critical tool to measure and improve air quality.

Invest more in clean transportation

Inslee’s proposal includes $100 million for a customer rebate that would reduce upfront buying costs and make EV prices comparable to those of internal combustion engine vehicles, to persuade more consumers to purchase electric vehicles (EV) instead of gas-powered vehicles.

Last month, the governor announced an executive order to fully electrify the fleet of vehicles owned by Washington state agencies. The order requires agencies to transition to a 100% zero-emission light duty fleet by 2035, and transition to 100% zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty state fleets by 2040. The budget provides funding for the state to develop implementation plans to accomplish this.

Additionally, the state proposes to invest nearly $450 million in cleaner fuel ferries, statewide EV charging infrastructure, clean bus technology, and improvements to transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

“With our transportation sector being the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, we have a massive task ahead of us to ensure our natural environment is protected for generations to come. As we continue the hard work of negotiating a transportation package, it is imperative that we invest in climate solutions and resiliency,” said Sen. Marko Liias.

Build the clean energy future in Washington

Washington’s current and proposed clean energy laws create demand for new energy, fuels and technologies to power our low-carbon future. Inslee believes we can and should build the clean energy future here in Washington, and that we can demonstrate how to do it right: by creating good jobs and clean energy and technologies, while protecting the environment, our communities and tribal rights.

The governor is proposing improvements to the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council and its processes, including adding project types such as clean energy product manufacturing, clean energy storage, and renewable and green electrolytic hydrogen production. The governor’s proposal formalizes EFSEC as a stand-alone agency to ensure it is appropriately resourced to meet demand and adds tribal government representatives to the council, and consultation requirements to the process.

The governor’s budget includes funding for additional staff at the Department of Fish and Wildlife to help inform mitigation decisions for solar facility proposals, seeking solutions that enable clean energy generation and protect disappearing shrub-steppe habitats. The Department of Ecology would also get new staff to enhance clean energy siting and help with permits. The Department of Commerce would receive funding to conduct a study of the benefits of agrivoltaics, the dual use of land for both agriculture and solar energy production in Washington.

To recruit clean energy industries, Inslee’s budget supports a sales-and-use tax deferral to construct clean energy manufacturing facilities, store energy generated from renewable sources, and produce clean fuels and renewable and green electrolytic hydrogen.

The governor’s proposal would also invest more in industrial decarbonization through the Clean Energy Fund. The fund helps the state develop, demonstrate and deploy clean energy technologies. The supplemental budget would fund two additional major clean energy projects.

A $100 million program for solar installation and energy storage grants is included in the governor’s budget to accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy while also providing high-paying jobs. Eligible recipients for these grants include retail electric utilities, tribal governments, school districts, local governments, state agencies, housing authorities and nonprofits.

The governor’s budget creates a Clean Energy Workforce Transition Work Group to assist in the development of a long-term strategy to prepare the workforce to fill good-paying, skilled, clean energy jobs. New technologies will demand change from our training systems and the best way to support workers based on where they are in their career. Governor Inslee relies on the perspective of workers and industry in shaping that approach.

The governor’s proposal makes a one-time investment into the Clean Energy Transition Workforce Account to directly support workers and their eligible expenses.

“We are challenging the notion that lawmakers can’t take bold, transformative actions when the calendar calls for a short, supplemental legislative session. Climate change does not take off-years, and we cannot wait around as certain calamity circles us,” Inslee said. “We can do this, and I thank our legislative partners in this effort.”

Policy brief: Responding to the climate crisis and building Washington’s clean energy future.