Wow. We still can’t believe what you helped make possible: the most significant legislative session for the environment in history. Thanks to the advocacy and participation of members like you, the leadership of courageous legislators, fierce environmental allies, powerful voices from Tribal Nations and Black-led movement groups, and our community partners, we made it clear that people and the environment were a priority this session.
From a putting a price on carbon pollution to passing the Clean Fuel Standard to HEAL Act, we accomplished so much together. Take a moment to thank your legislator for all of their hard work this session!
This session, propelled by the urgency of the climate crisis and your energy, we worked tirelessly to pass critical climate and environmental policy. Several significant bills finally passed, including a Clean Fuel Standard!
- Clean Fuel Standard: requires fuel producers and importers to reduce climate pollution from the fuels that power our transportation system. It is a tested and effective policy that will clean our air, give us more options to fuel our vehicles (such as electricity and local, sustainable biofuels), spur economic development, cut climate pollution from our highest-emitting sector, and move us beyond oil.
- The Climate Commitment Act is the most comprehensive carbon pricing system in the nation, taking critical lessons from California’s program. This includes addressing persistent air pollution in frontline communities, utilizing the Environmental Justice Council from the HEAL Act to review and be in a leadership position to adapt the program, and integrating key priorities to uphold tribal sovereignty. The program also generates significant resources to invest in carbon emission reduction priorities across the economy, including transportation, natural climate solutions, and our built environment.
- Conservation Works: The Conservation Works priority successfully protected essential environmental programs from budget cuts and promoted investments in proven projects that tackle climate change, create good jobs, support salmon and orca recovery, and help communities chart their own course for a better future. The budgets also made significant investments in evolving programs with a racial equity lens and helped make critical progress on new efforts like a Buy Clean/Buy Fair database for building materials, updating the state Growth Management Act, and reducing the climate footprint of buildings. The Conservation Works capital budget package secured $448 million for projects statewide including:
- $16.3 million for Community Forest grants that provide clean drinking water, protect working forest jobs, and keep economic gains local;
- $75 million in stormwater grants for green infrastructure projects from Spokane to Walla Walla to Bellingham;
- $81 million for clean energy projects like weatherization for low income households, retrofits of public buildings, and grid modernizations.
- Clean and Just Transportation: Transportation is the state’s largest source of climate pollution, and we have substantial needs across the state to ensure people can move around safely, easily, and efficiently. While a Clean and Just Transportation package was not achieved, our communities’ advocacy resulted in historic proposals for multimodal and clean transportation issues. There is more to do but a new bar has been set. We look forward to passing a transportation package that reflects the needs of Washingtonians from all life experiences.
Other Notable Policies for People and the Environment
The Legislature also passed three other major environmental bills.
- HEAL Act: The Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act was reintroduced and shaped following input from around the state through the Environmental Justice Task Force. The bill, led Front and Centered, creates an Environmental Task Force Council and directs agencies to integrate environmental justice into its processes, policy implementation, and funding processes. The bill passed the legislature and awaits the Governor’s signature.
- Wildfire Bill: a bill to direct investments in wildfire resilience, including forest health, community preparedness and wildfire emergency response, as well as substantial funding to implement it.
- Working Families Tax Credit: our partners at the Washington Budget and Policy Center introduced a bill to ensure roughly 500,000 people statewide have access to the cash rebate. Washington state has the most regressive tax system in the country, and this policy is an important step to address the disproportionate tax burden on low and middle income earners.
- Voting Rights Restoration: led by the Voting Justice Coalition, of which we are a part, this bill passed the legislature and will result in an estimated 20,000 people in the state having their voting rights restored.
Together, we leaped forward in environmental progress this session – shaping the vision for the future of Washington, the planet, and our very futures.