Inslee signs climate change legislative package
Inslee signed five bills at three stops in King County Monday
Gov. Jay Inslee signed a historic climate change legislative package today during a three-stop tour through King County.
The governor signed the Climate Commitment Act, environmental justice legislation, a clean fuels standard and bills related to reducing Washington’s single-use plastic waste and hydrofluorocarbon pollution.
“Today is a historic day in the state of Washington. Thanks to the work and dedication of so many, Washington will now not only be the most beautiful state, the most innovative state,” Inslee said Monday. “Now, Washington will also have the best climate policies in the United States — and it’s about time.”
Inslee was joined by legislators, tribal members, community members and organizations, and other stakeholders as he signed legislation that made Washington the nation’s leader in battling the climate change crisis.
The governor began the day at the Seattle Aquarium, where he signed SB 5022, regarding single-use plastics.
Limiting single-use plastics and increasing recycling will decrease the demand for oil and move Washington toward greater sustainability while simultaneously protecting the state’s beaches, ocean and wildlife.
To minimize plastic waste, the bill:
- Requires a minimum amount of recycled content in products, setting the country’s highest recycling requirements for trash bags.
- Prohibits the sale and distribution of Styrofoam.
- Requires food service establishments to give customers single-use materials only if requested.
Sen. Mona Das, the bill’s primary sponsor, said the policies in this bill are vital to the fight against climate change.
“I’m proud to serve a state that has been a national leader in the work to protect our planet with innovative solutions — solutions that build a healthier economy and healthier communities,” Das said. “I’m thrilled that, with Gov. Inslee’s signature today, SB 5022’s promotion of recycling and reduction of waste is one of those crucial solutions. It is an honor to be partners in this work to serve our neighbors and protect our earth.”
Rep. Liz Berry, sponsor of the bill’s House companion, agreed.
“Even my five-year-old knows, if we do not take urgent action to address recycling and plastic pollution, our waterways and environment will pay the price,” Berry said. “This bill will create a circular market for plastic recycling and cut down drastically on single use plastics. I am proud to have worked with Sen. Das on this nation leading policy.”
Washington will be the first state in the nation to enact a statewide “upon request” policy for single-use, disposable service items.
The HEAL Act
The governor’s second bill signing took place at the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center in Seattle with SB 5141, environmental justice legislation better known as the HEAL Act.
The bill will enact recommendations from the governor’s environmental justice task force and will put environmental justice at the forefront of Washington’s strategic plans, programs, community engagement and spending decisions. It also requires state agencies conduct environmental justice assessments to see what agency actions could be done to help overburdened communities.
“Every Washingtonian deserves to live in a healthy environment, regardless of their zip code or socioeconomic status,” Inslee said. “We’ve studied the issue long enough. Now is the time to get to work and create a more just, healthy and equitable future for all Washingtonians.”
One of the main things the bill accomplishes is the establishment of an environmental justice council where voices from overburdened communities are put front and center alongside environmental justice experts. The council will advise the state in future policy and outreach work, and will track progress for accountability.
HEAL Act sponsor Sen. Rebecca Saldaña said that putting voices from disproportionately affected communities at the forefront is key.
“The signing of the Healthy Environment for All Act is a monumental step in our movement toward climate and environmental justice,” Saldaña said. “It acknowledges that current and past policies have disproportionately caused harmful health outcomes in communities of color and low-income communities; but more importantly, it requires that covered agencies take action with the guidance and consultation of the newly established Environmental Justice Council with majority representation from the communities most impacted. Environmental benefits and community engagement will be part of all environmental policies thanks to this bill.”
The HEAL Act comes 25 years after former Sen. Rosa Franklin commissioned the state’s first study on environmental justice.
Climate priorities package
“We are signing into law a package of climate legislation that will implement the most ambitious policies in the nation to reduce emissions and address environmental justice in our overburdened communities. But it’s not just ambitious — it is the level of ambition necessary,” Inslee said. “We have seen the science and have accepted the reality of our charge. We have defeated the fear-mongering and embraced both our responsibility to act and the tremendous opportunity that building a clean future brings.”
Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, chair of the House Environment & Energy Committee sponsored both HB 1091 and HB 1050.
“With the passage of these laws, Washington is acting aggressively to combat climate change. The Clean Fuel Standard will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, the single largest source of emissions in Washington. The hydrofluorocarbon phasedown will rapidly transition us away from some of the most potent greenhouse gases in existence,” Fitzgibbon said. “And the Climate Commitment Act will put a firm legal cap on Washington’s emissions, helping to ensure that we achieve our state target of net-zero greenhouse gas pollution by 2050. Altogether, these bills demonstrate Washington’s commitment to protecting current and future generations from the dual threats of climate change and air pollution and to leaving behind a cleaner and healthier state than the one we inherited. They also provide a road map for what robust climate action looks like at the state level for other jurisdictions in the United States and around the world.”
Inslee first signed HB 1050, a bill that will hold business and companies accountable for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions from hydrofluorocarbons — or fluorinated gases.
Hydrofluorocarbons are one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Washington, contributing nearly 4 million tons of pollution a year. The legislation will build on federal and state hydrofluorocarbon policies to significantly reduce emission from the super-pollutants.
The governor also signed into law a clean fuels standard, joining Washington with California, Oregon and British Columbia in tackling the largest source of air pollution: transportation.
The standard will create new jobs across the state, from the building and operation of biofuels refineries that source materials from Washington farms and forests to building out an electric vehicle infrastructure.
Additionally, the clean fuels standard will not raise fuel prices, and has not in neighboring states that have already implemented the policy. Instead, the standard will actually save consumers money over time with cleaner, more affordable choices. With more choices, the economy will be less bound to global crude oil markets.
Finally, the governor signed SB 5126, the Climate Commitment Act. The bill will cap and reduce climate pollution and creates revenue for climate investments to help Washington accelerate the transition to a clean energy infrastructure and economy.
The Climate Commitment Act ensures that Washington reduces pollution and invests in climate solutions, and does so in a way that:
- Leverages the state’s innovative economy,
- Invests in a clean recovery, creates good-paying jobs,
- Cleans up the air,
- Reduces environmental disparities and
- Leaves a healthier state for future Washingtonians.
Bill sponsor Sen. Reuven Carlyle said that this bill was only possible because of the tireless coalition of advocates.
“With the Climate Commitment Act, Washington will translate the global aspirations outlined in the Paris Accords into reality. After years of groundwork, this legislation represents a comprehensive, economy-wide path forward to combat the climate crisis with the principles of environmental justice, equity, and economic growth embedded at its core,” Carlyle said. “The historic coalition of environmental, business, social justice, labor, and tribal organizations who supported the bill is a testament to the fact we never lost sight of those vital principles. I want to extend my deep gratitude to our indefatigable climate champion Gov. Jay Inslee, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, and so many other legislative partners for their work. Today marks a profound step forward for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.”
The bill also addresses the disproportionate impact on overburdened communities that comes from burning fossil fuels, requiring the state to track air quality.
“Today, Washington State made history. The bills signed into law today signal our strong commitment to environmental justice and making the necessary investments to reach our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050,” said Rep. Debra Lekanoff, the only Native American currently serving in the state Legislature. “It was an honor to collaborate with my colleagues to integrate parts of the Washington STRONG Act into the Climate Commitment Act to build a foundation for the best policy for today and for the future. As we continue to recover from this pandemic, these policies will help us build back more resilient than ever before. We can invest in critical projects for our transportation system, infrastructure, carbon reduction, and protection of natural resources all while creating living wage jobs and economic prosperity.”
The state is committing to maintaining dialogue and listening to experiences and recommendations of frontline communities to ensure that policies enacted through this legislation make tangible impacts.
“We’ve got a heck of a job to do in the years to come. Our climate commitment, made by our Legislature in 2020, is to cut climate pollution by over 50% in the next nine years, on our pathway to net-zero climate pollution by 2050. It won’t be easy, but these bills go a long ways to getting us there,” Inslee said. “Today we commit to our kids and grandkids to do the hard work, so that they will have good jobs and a safe, healthy future, here in our beautiful home state.”