Gov. Jay Inslee signed a package of bills Tuesday to combat climate change headlined by legislation to rid Washington’s electric grid of fossil-fuel-generated power by 2045, a move that makes the state a leader in the national clean-power movement.
Other parts of the green agenda now embedded in state law create new conservation standards for energy use in large new buildings, require new efficiency standards for appliances and phase out “super pollutant” hydrofluorocarbons used as refrigerants.
“From this day forward, let the word go out: Washington state is leading in the effort to combat climate change … It’s been a long time coming,” said Inslee, who signed five bills in a park by the Rainier Vista housing development in South Seattle.
Even with these bills’ passage, Washington still is projected to fall short of the emission targets set by state law.
Inslee initially hoped his legislative agenda would meet that goal. But lawmakers did not approve a clean-fuels standard that would have required continuous reductions in carbon pollution from gasoline and other transportation fuels. That proposal was projected by the governor’s staff to account for 4.3 million of the 18-million-metric-ton reduction in state greenhouse-gas emissions needed to reach a 2035 target, according to the governor’s staff.
But, as a whole, the package is a substantial victory for Inslee, a longtime clean-energy evangelist who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on a platform of making climate-change defeat the federal government’s No. 1 priority.
The law sets a 2025 deadline for utilities to end all reliance on coal, and a 2045 deadline to end use of natural-gas-generated electricity. The new energy standards will have a major impact on investor-owned utilities. Puget Sound Energy (PSE), which serves more than 1.1 million electric customers, got nearly 60 percent of its electricity from coal and natural gas in 2017.
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