Climate Crisis and Energy

The League of Women Voters of Washington believes that climate change is a serious crisis facing our nation and planet. Although solutions must align globally, state and local Leagues, and individual League members have a critical role to play in helping to limit future climate change and protect the planet. Optimum response requires crafting actions to local conditions and opportunities. We have seen that nations and world bodies have been slow to respond. Individuals, communities, and governments must continue to address the climate crisis and show leadership, 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(425) 361-5007
 DOWNLOAD the Climate Change and Energy Issue Paper
Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 

Bill Tracking

Weekly Reports

Bill Descriptions

Get Involved

Session Wrap-Up

Washington State continued making progress during the 2023 session, but work remains in some important areas, and adjustments will always be required as we do our part to minimize global warming. The Climate Commitment Act (CCA, 2021) or Cap & Invest began auctioning greenhouse gas allowances this year and generated revenue of nearly $300 M in the first quarter. The approved budget items do emphasize climate justice and applies funding to natural climate solutions. The challenge continues of investing in actual improvements in our climate change outlook and not redirecting CCA funds to needs that should be funded in other ways. The budget passed this session made investments in climate justice and reducing our greenhouse gas footprint.

A key addition to the Growth Management Act HB 1181 passed requiring local governments to plan specifically for climate change challenges. Several bills crafted to make significant progress on reducing greenhouse gases in buildings failed this session, but can be revived in 2024.

Transportation remains the largest share of our greenhouse gas profile. Some progress was made this session in enabling more housing density, which facilitates efficient and responsive public transit. Two other bills of interest did not succeed: HB 1832 for a per-mile vehicle usage fee that would replace the electric vehicle charge, and SB 5431/HB 1368 to fund zero emission school buses. Electric school buses do operate in some regions, and their large batteries can serve as supplemental electricity sources during emergencies.

Bill Tracking

Senate Bills Senate House After Passage
Bill # Bill Name (Brief Title) League Position Take Action In Committee On Floor Calendar Passed  In Committee On Floor Calendar Passed  Passed Legislature On Governor's Desk Signed
SB 5165 Improving electric power system transmission planning (companion to HB 1192). Supports

SB 5447 Promoting the alternative jet fuel industry in Washington. Watch

House Bills House Senate After Passage
Bill # Bill Name (Brief Title) League Position Take Action In Committee On Floor Calendar Passed  In Committee On Floor Calendar Passed  Passed Legislature On Governor's Desk Signed
HB 1012 Creating an extreme weather response grant program. DID NOT PASS Supports


HB 1117 Assessing the risk of rolling blackouts and power supply inadequacy events. Opposes

HB 1170 Integrated Climate Response Strategy updates for climate resilience. (companion to SB 5093) Supports

HB 1176 Creating a Washington Climate Corps. Supports

SHB 1216

Streamline the permitting process for Clean Energy Projects


HB 1282

Buy clean, buy fair - environmental and labor reporting for public building construction. DID NOT PASS


SHB 1329

Preventing utility shutoffs for nonpayment during extreme heat


HB 1391

Increasing energy efficiency in buildings for overburdened and low-income communities. DID NOT PASS


HB 1416

Consumer-owned utilities


HB 1433

Energy labeling of residential buildings: Home Energy Score. DID NOT PASS


Weekly Reports

These weekly updates will provide you with a "deep dive" into the progress of each bill, along with more analysis of the potential impact of the bill if it should pass. 

Bill that Passed

HB 1117 Assessing the risk of rolling blackouts and power supply inadequacy events. This bill focuses on risks of renewable energy to be a reliable source of electricity. We opposed this bill for several reasons. Only one threat is specifically singled out: Understanding and addressing any energy adequacy challenges created by a deeply decarbonized grid is key to keeping the state's supply of electricity reliable. But many events have demonstrated risk of disrupting primary electricity sources such as internet hacking, sabotage of substations, and weather events. Several periodic assessments of our electricity system by the Department of Commerce already evaluate such risks comprehensively. 

HB 1170 Integrated Climate Response Strategy updates for climate resilience. The current Climate Response Strategy was completed in 2012, so is due for an update. This bill will increase the focus on climate justice considerations. Unfortunately, references to science are lacking in the current language, so we have urged amending the text to  “seek assistance from qualified nonpartisan and independent scientific experts and sources” and use “the best available and independent science.” We supported this bill because on balance it makes progress.

HB 1176 Creating a Washington Climate Corps. Project to create climate-related service opportunities for young adults and displaced workers, to build low-carbon and climate-resilient communities and ecosystems while providing education, workforce development, and new career pathways. The board would conduct a study of the feasibility of a program to preserve income and benefits for workers close to retirement who face job loss or career transition because of energy technology sector changes. It is essential that we have the workforce skills to follow through with our clean energy plans.

HB 1216 Consolidates and streamlines the siting of clean energy projects. To improve the siting and permitting of clean energy projects, and to obtain and coordinate inputs from all parties with interests in the projects and locations, an interagency coordinating council is established. The Department of Ecology and the council must define processes for streamlining siting approvals. Clean Energy Projects of Statewide Significance are defined.  Permitting of energy projects of all kinds experience long lead times across the nation, and much of the process is regulated by states and local governments.

HB 1236 Access to clean fuel for agencies providing public transportation. Currently, sources of hydrogen emit carbon dioxide in the creation process. Green hydrogen is generated with electrolysis using renewable electricity. Diverting clean electricity for this purpose, however, reduces energy efficiency compared to charging vehicle batteries, or heating with heat pumps. Green hydrogen supplies only a tiny part of our hydrogen needs. If our renewable sources can generate sufficient clean-green electricity, then green hydrogen will serve as a valid solution for challenging transportation and energy storage problems. Handling hydrogen fuel is more difficult than electricity, but refueling times may be shorter. The LWVUS supports legislation to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner, more-efficient energy standards, and hydrogen may be part of that future.

HB 1329 Preventing utility shutoffs for nonpayment during extreme heat. Requested by the Attorney General. Prohibits utilities and landlords from terminating water or electric service to any residential user during days for which the National Weather Service has issued certain heat-related alerts. If service is already disconnected, it requires a prompt and reasonable attempt to reconnect service for the time of the heat event provided the user agrees to a payment plan. This is part of the investment in climate justice.

HB 1390 Decarbonization planning for state-owned district energy systems. Requires specifically defined groups of state-owned buildings using district heating or cooling to develop decarbonization plans. District energy systems are buildings connected with pipes, etc. to share heating and cooling resources. The bill defines certain exemptions. This bill is highly technical and beyond our ability to analyze, but if executed well should reduce our energy needs. 

HB 1416 Apply The Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) to consumer –owned utilities. CETA requires Washington's electric utilities to:  1. transition 100% of their power sources to non-emitting and renewable by 2045, 2. eliminate coal-fired resources by 2026, 3. Make all retail sales of electricity greenhouse-gas neutral by 2030. This bill applies these requirements to consumer-owned utilities as well as investor-owned utilities.

SB 5165 Improving electric power system transmission planning. Washington’s Clean Energy Transformation Act requires a transition away from fossil fuel sources to clean and renewable sources. These sources, such as solar and wind, will require additional transmission capacity, and may also improve resiliency as power sources and power movement will benefit from additional transmission options. To obtain the additional transmission infrastructure will require comprehensive forecasting, planning and efficient permitting.

SSB 5447  Promoting the alternative jet fuel industry in Washington. This policy stems from the clean fuel standard (HB 1091, 2021) and the Climate Commitment Act (SB 5126, 2021), and encourages development of synthetic, low carbon jet engine fuels amenable to blending with current fuels without requiring changes to the engines or the distribution system. It specifies carbon intensity objectives, product costs, and tax incentives. A very technical bill supported by our coalitions.

Bills that Died

These bills did not proceed in 2023 so were returned to their chamber of origin (House or Senate) for reconsideration in 2024.

HB1012 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 will provide 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/SB 5322 Buy clean, buy fair - environmental and labor reporting for public building construction. These bills follow a Buy Clean Buy Fair Washington Project pilot study commenced in 2021. Embodied carbon is the greenhouse gas required to make a product, in this case buildings. The bills require analysis and reporting on the cradle to grave embodied carbon of new buildings and significant renovations  funded by the state. The Department of Commerce is to implement a data base of material information to assist. Labor practices are also required in the reporting. HB 1282 stopped in the Ways & Means Committee.

HB 1391 Increasing energy efficiency in buildings. Defines grants and processes 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.

HB 1427 On-premises electrical energy generation. Enables customers of private electric utilities get credits for renewable electricity they generate up to 200 kilowatts (net metering). Stipulations define end dates, monitoring, forecasts, and limitations to ensure the results are equitable for everyone.

HB 1433 Energy labeling of residential buildings: Home Energy Score. Enables but does not mandate local governments to require an energy assessment and report for the sale of a home. The assessment and report would be based on a format developed by the US Department of Energy.

HB 1480 Energy resilience, cyber security, and all-hazard emergency management. Directs the Department of Commerce to include all hazards, including human and natural,  in contingency plans in the event of energy shortages or emergencies. Previous law was not explicit. HB 1117 current language focuses on supply risks of renewable energy.

HB 1509 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. This bill revises the size and operating parameters for community solar projects.

HB 1554 Reducing public health and environmental impacts from lead. Aviation fuel for internal combustion engines is one of the last significant sources of lead in the environment. This bill places more regulation on leaded aviation fuel, especially when located or used near overburdened communities.

SB5037 Preventing the Energy Code from prohibiting the use of natural gas in buildings. Problem: Methane is not safe. Using this fossil fuel in buildings for space heating, water heating, and cooking has been shown to expose residents to pollutants from leakage and combustion products. Delaying the energy code updates will expose more people, including children, expand the related infrastructure making future retrofits more costly, and lead to degraded health for this population. As written, we will oppose this bill.

SB5057 Delaying the building performance standards by two years, and creating a work group on their financial impacts and building efficiency policy. Delaying implementation of building codes and standards for multi-family housing will enable construction of more buildings with fossil-fuel infrastructure assets increasing future costs and barriers when electrification retrofits are desired. Studies of the economics may improve building code revisions, but that should not delay our investments in clean energy.

SB 5129 Planning for advanced nuclear reactor technology in Washington. The League's formal position is against adding additional reactors to our electricity supply, but not immediately retiring existing, operating reactors. This bill does not propose funding for building reactors or for changing regulation or licensing requirements. Current League positions and resolutions do not provide much basis for an opinion on this bill.

SB 5312 Creates a residential property assessed clean energy and resiliency (R-PACER) program. Allows loans for improvements to be repaid through a lien on the property assigned so the obligation to repay the debt would remain with the property. Improvements in this case would be limited to energy efficiency, water conservation, clean and renewable energy, and resiliency projects. (We already have such a program for commercial properties,  C-PACER.)

SB 5391 Modeling, measurement, and reporting embodied carbon emission reductions from structural building products in state-funded projects. Embodied carbon in buildings is the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released during the manufacture of building materials and the construction of the building. The objective of this bill is to enable accurate analysis of the embodied carbon in state funded building projects and encourage builders to minimize this feature.

SB 5431/HB 1368  Zero emission school buses. Sets the requirement that school buses purchased in WA after 2035 must be zero emissions. Funding in part would come from the Federal Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Anticipated benefits include reduced GHGs, healthier air around children, and reduce operating costs. A system of grants are defined to ensure benefits target overburdened communities.

How To Be Involved
  • If your available time permits you to do nothing else, please scan the Legislative Newsletter each week 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 your assessments of a few paragraphs to a few pages and include the sources of the facts you rely on.
  • If you want to engage more in a current topic such as improving building codes, reducing solid waste pollution, or encouraging salmon recovery, one of our coalition partners probably has a focused action project underway that you can join. Contact me to discuss opportunities, Martin Gibbins, mgibbins@lwvwa.org.

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