Climate Crisis and Energy

The League of Women Voters of Washington believes that climate change is a serious crisis facing our nation and planet. We now have no time to lose in implementing broad policy to slow planetary warming. Although solutions must align globally, state and local Leagues and individuals have a critical role to play in working to limit future climate change and protect the planet. Optimum response requires aligning actions to local conditions and opportunities. Nations and world bodies have been slow to respond with global solutions. That’s why individuals, communities, and governments must implement policies to reduce the greenhouse gasses they emit, while considering the ramifications of their decisions at all levels. The League supports climate goals and policies that are consistent with the best available climate science and that will ensure a stable climate and environment for future generations.

Issue Team Chair: Martin Gibbins, mgibbins@lwvwa.org
 DOWNLOAD the Climate Crisis and Energy Issue Paper
Interested in getting involved with this topic? Contact Martin Gibbins

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Overview of the 2024 Legislative Session

The Climate Commitment Act (CCA) remains the most significant policy to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) releases Washington State has implemented. We can expect annual changes to policy details as implementation continues to ensure equity and adjust to market response. We must guard against backsliding on the objectives and implementation schedule, which will disrupt commerce that has planned for the current policy. We must also continue reducing GHGs in other areas such as buildings. Enabling the expansion of clean, renewable energy will require focus on reducing barriers that include permitting and funding for the required investment.

Below are reports the Issue Chair wrote throughout the 2024 Legislative session. There will be no further reports or action alerts this year.

2024 Climate Crisis and Energy Legislation

Bills That Passed

Bills in green are supported. Bills in red are opposed by the League. Bills in black the League is watching.

HB 1012 Creating an extreme weather response grant program. The legislature recognizes the increasing risks and threats to socially vulnerable people (including pets) from extreme weather events such as heat, cold, smoke, and flooding. This bill provides funding for communities with a demonstrated lack of resources to meet the costs of responding to community needs during such periods for cities, counties, towns, and tribes that have emergency management organizations.

HB 1282 Public Building MaterialsBuy Clean Buy Fair. In construction and in operation, buildings in Washington produce 25% of our greenhouse gases. Over their lifetimes construction represents over half of this embodied carbon. This policy requires analysis and reporting on the cradle to grave embodied carbon of new buildings and significant renovations funded by the state. The Department of Commerce will implement a data base of material information to assist.

HB 1368/SB 5431 Zero emission school buses. This bill allocates funding from the Federal Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and Washington's Climate Commitment Act to accelerate the transition to non-emitting school buses. Anticipated benefits include reduced Greenhouse Gases, healthier air around children, and reduce lifecycle operating costs. A system of grants are defined to ensure benefits target overburdened communities.

HB 1589 Clean Energy Progress - Transitioning utilities from natural gas to electricity. The Clean Energy Transition Act (CETA, 2019) commits Washington to an electricity supply free of greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. The current schedule eliminates coal generated electricity by 2025. The next challenge is to reduce reliance on methane (natural gas) for both electricity generation and heating. This bill sets policies for utility planning and oversight to systematically reduce methane in our energy mix. Due to the diversity of utilities’ products, customer based, regions, etc. the bill is complex. The bill was revised by the Senate to eliminate requirements for large utilities to halt expansion of methane fuel. Instead the language increases required utility planning and incentives to eliminate emitting energy.  

SB 6039 Geothermal energy resources requires a geological survey to facilitate identifying geologic features of both sources of geothermal energy and potential hazards such as inducing seismicity (earthquakes). Geothermal is used for clean base-load electricity generation. The state already leases state-owned land for geothermal energy, and this bill will require an update to the lease rates for development of geothermal resources. Depending on appropriations available, grants may be offered to private entities to share direct costs of exploration activities in high potential areas.

Bills that Failed
Bills in green are supported. Bills in red are opposed by the League. Bills in black the League is watching.

HB 1391 Energy efficiency and upgrade navigator. Defines grants and process guidance for overburdened and low-income communities to retrofit residences and buildings with energy efficiency appliances, insulation, repairs, indoor air quality improvements, and health and safety improvements. Funding optimized from the Climate Commitment Act and Federal Inflation Reduction Act. This is a climate justice focus. Although the bill did not pass, funding from the Climate Commitment Act was included in the supplemental budget to begin designing the system.

HB 1868 Reducing emissions from outdoor power equipment and HB 2051 Reducing emissions from small off-road engines. Small, gasoline-fueled engines as found in leaf blowers grass, mowers, and similar outdoor power equipment emit a substantial amount of our greenhouse gas burden from combustion and released fuel vapor, plus contribute to noise and air pollution. Also, operating this equipment without proper protection can damage hearing. These bills will regulate the sale of new internal combustion equipment and provide incentives for replacing existing equipment. Exemptions are available for equipment without suitable zero emission alternatives.

HB 2073 Concerning emissions of greenhouse gases from sources other than methane and carbon dioxide. Methane is well known as pound-for-pound far more greenhouse-gas effective that carbon dioxide. Other gases in commercial use are just as damaging or far worse in the short run. This bill requires the Department of Ecology to study the global warming potential for a list of GHGs and recommend potential replacements and regulate their use. See the House Bill Analysis on the bill information page for the compounds under consideration.

HB 2232/SB 6052 Assessing petroleum products supply and pricing. To ensure a smooth and equitable energy transition away from reliance on fossil fuels, these measures require a state commission to collect data on supplies and pricing of petroleum products, fuel as of most concern. It assigns state oversight responsibilities including collection of market information from suppliers and refiners, then prepare analysis and report results. Proprietary information related to supplier competitive advantages would not be reported.

HB 2253/SB 6113 Fair access to community solar. Community solar projects enable groups of electrical power customers to install and operate collective solar arrays together rather than independently. This permits wider participation if an individual cannot install a solar array alone. These policies revise the size and operating parameters for community solar projects.

HB 2297 Solar energy systems on new school buildings. The objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the state's reliance on fossil fuels. Solar energy to power buildings is generally a cost-effective means of reducing energy cost and offset increasing energy needs. The bill requires installation of qualifying solar energy systems on new public school buildings that exceed 50,000 square feet if the project qualifies for a grant to reimburse the costs to schools.

HB 2341 Study the cumulative effects of offshore wind development in the Pacific Ocean. To achieve our greenhouse gas reduction goals, we need to develop all renewable energy and to ensure those are clean. Some ocean structures enhance marine life, others degrade it. This bill would require the University of Washington School of Oceanography to conduct a comprehensive scientific study on the cumulative effects, both positive and negative, of offshore wind development on oceanographic processes such as tides, waves, and currents; and, in turn, how changes in those processes could affect the broader marine ecosystem.

HJM 4003 Requesting that the United States join in developing a Fossil Fuel Nonproliferation Treaty. A House Joint Memorial (HJM) is a petition to the Federal government. This petition lists 2 pages of background and substantiation for this request: “…the Washington State Legislature urges the United States government to join the global community in formally developing a Fossil Fuel Nonproliferation Treaty as an international mechanism to manage a global transition away from coal, oil, and gas…”. Among other positions, the LWVUS supports “climate goals and policies that are consistent with the best available climate science and that will ensure a stable climate system for future generations”, Impact on Issues, p13.

How To Be Involved

  • If you are interested in a particular bill, use the links above to go to the webpage for that bill. These pages include staff summaries and reports including who testified PRO versus CON on the bill. There is also information about how to access videos of hearings that have been held.
  • If you do nothing else, please scan the LWVWA Legislative Action Newsletter each week (it's distributed each Sunday during the legislative session) and respond to the Action Alerts .
  • If you have more time and are interested in a particular topic, we always appreciate and can use your assessments of bills, law implementation, and future concerns. For climate and energy topics send assessments of a few paragraphs to a few pages and include the sources of the facts you rely on. Send them to Martin Gibbins, Climate Crisis and Energy Issue Chair.
  • The LWVUS Climate Interest Group also maintains information on addressing climate change for state and local Leagues. Contact Martin Gibbins to discuss opportunities.

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