Legislature Doubles Down on Climate Action in Final Hours
Marking a victory for people’s health, the environment, and economic recovery, the Washington Legislature passed a Clean Fuel Standard, governor-request legislation that the Legislature considered three years in a row. A Clean Fuel Standard reduces air and climate pollution by requiring transportation fuel producers to reduce the carbon intensity in their products or invest in the production of cleaner fuels, such as sustainable biofuels and electricity. The transportation sector is the largest source of carbon pollution in the state and until now the Legislature had yet to take significant action to cut greenhouse gas emissions from that sector. Two-thirds of Washingtonians support a Clean Fuel Standard.
“Finally, families living with air pollution day-in and day-out will get some relief,” said Dr. Chris Covert-Bowlds, family physician and member of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. “We cannot waver in our drive to improve the health of all Washington residents. To eliminate the systemic health impacts of bad air we must hasten the transition to a 100% zero-emission vehicle fleet.”
“HB 1091 will reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuel, reduce health impacts on black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), and help support small businesses. About 40 percent of Washington state’s pollution comes from the dirty fuel that’s spewed into our air by cars, trucks, ships, and planes. This is a very important issue to our community,” said Paula Sardinas on behalf of the WA Build Back Black Alliance.
“This is really exciting for the future of Washington’s clean energy workforce,” said Matthew Hepner, Executive Director of the Certified Electrical Workers of Washington. “By creating market certainty for low carbon fuels in our state, we ensure that technologies and fuel advancements directly benefit Washington communities – and are not simply exported out of state. But must move quickly to implement the program to maximize economic benefits.”
“CAPAA is proud to be a part of this monumental step to establish a clean fuel standard and effectively reduce pollution here in Washington State. Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities know first-hand the dire consequences of climate change. This is a vital step to answer the call for urgent action: to improve the health of our earth, restore the vitality of our environment, and yield meaningful outcomes for our communities here at home and around the world. We join in celebration of the passage of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which honors the diverse voices and experiences of our communities who have proclaimed their fundamental right to breathe clean air,” said Toshiko Hasegawa, Executive Director of the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs.
“Now Washington will let up on the gas and instead hit the accelerator for clean fuels to power our transit, freight, and personal vehicles,” said Leah Missik with Climate Solutions, Campaign Manager for the Clean Fuels Now coalition. “The Legislature listened to our broad coalition of environmental organizations, forward-thinking businesses, workers, health professionals, community groups, and local governments, and thousands of people spoke up and demanded action on this critical climate and health policy year after year. Now we can all literally breathe more easily as we move on and continue to work for climate justice and transition to a clean energy economy.”
The Clean Fuel Standard requires fuel producers to sell a cleaner product or invest in clean, low-carbon choices like electricity and local, sustainable biofuels to power our transportation. Thanks to these investments, clean fuels producers and fleet operators will be able to further expand clean fuels production and use. Utilities must invest credits they receive from clean electricity being used as a fuel into further transportation electrification, with targeted investments in communities overburdened by air pollution. In Oregon, for example, these investments have included electric school buses, public charging stations, electric vehicles for nonprofits, and more—investments that we can begin to see in Washington as well, thanks to the passage of this policy. HB 1091, as passed, ensures pollution goes down by requiring transportation fuels to reduce their carbon intensity by 20% by 2038, which will benefit our climate, clean our air, and help spur jobs in the local, green economy.
“We joined with over 160 elected officials in Washington in support of the Clean Fuel Standard because the communities we represent deserve clean air to breathe. We are grateful to the State Legislature for taking historic climate action this legislative session and acting to reduce the disparity and harm of traffic-related air pollution,” stated Issaquah Mayor Mary Lou Pauly and City Council President Victoria Hunt.
“The new Cleaner Fuels standards will support Washington in transitioning to an even stronger and healthier economy that works for all people,” said Spokane, WA City Council President Breean Beggs.
“It’s high time Washington joins our neighbors on the west coast in passing a Clean Fuel Standard. I salute Governor Inslee, Senator Reuven Carlyle, and the prime sponsor of the House bill 1091, our own 34th District State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, who has been relentless in his advocacy. This policy will improve air quality and reduce emissions from transportation, while creating clean economy jobs,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.
“Driven by the urgency to preserve our futures and the fury for inaction: it was time for Washington state to do what they should have done years ago. We see this critical step as a signal toward ultimate passage. Washingtonians can sleep better tonight thanks to bold lawmakers in Olympia,” said Rebecca Ponzio, Climate and Fossil Fuel Program Director of Washington Environmental Council/Washington Conservation Voters. “This policy means cleaner air, cleaner communities, and real jobs in the clean energy economy. This is what historic climate progress looks like.”
“Having a Clean Fuel Standard in place is crucial to meeting the challenge of climate change in Washington,” said Mike Stevens, Washington State Director for The Nature Conservancy. “We all want cleaner air, vibrant economies and transportation options that are less harmful to our health and help us leave a better environment for future generations. Washington’s working farms and forests are critical for resilient rural communities, and these landscapes will now play a larger role in the clean energy future for Washington and our West Coast neighbors.”
“This was not just the passing of a bill. It is the start of equitable clean air for all of our communities especially our BIPOC communities who have been left out for so long. Thank you to our representatives and senators for truly taking a bold step forward for all of Washington,” said Ali Lee, Climate Reality Washington State Coalition Lead, Co-Lead Clean Fuels Now Field Table.
“Due to the leadership of Representative Fitzgibbon passing Clean Fuel Standard legislation, the Port of Seattle and Washington State will be able to meet our aggressive emission reduction goals. Enacting a Clean Fuel Standard enables the Port to meet our mission of supporting a healthy economy and community,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Fred Felleman.
“Transportation directly contributes to nearly 45% of Washington’s CO2 emissions,” said Joshua Caplan, a student at Northwest School and Sunrise Seattle youth activist. “Ending the climate crisis must include decoupling our transportation from fossil fuels. With the passage of the clean fuel standard, Washington recognized and affirmed this fundamental truth. I am hopeful that this is the first of many steps in creating environmentally just statewide transportation policy.”
“Every day, we can either choose to ignore the climate crisis so evidently in progress today, or take bold steps right now to mitigate it in tandem with prioritizing local jobs and industries. The passing of HB 1091 is one of the first bold steps of many to come and symbolizes Washington’s commitment to being a leader in creating sustainable, economical, and long-term solutions to climate change. I look forward to seeing similar bold steps taken in the future,” said Layasri Ranjith, youth climate activist and senior at Eastlake High School.
“Between uncontrollable wildfires and rapidly changing seasons, we’re seeing the impacts of climate change right now, right here. HB 1091 begins to address it by prioritizing Washington citizens’ health and acknowledging the risk to it without proper action. Passing HB 1091 was a promise that our elected officials have made to ensure the health and safety of all Washington citizens and I hope that promise is kept,”said Anika Razdan, youth climate activist and senior at Eastlake High School.
“I supported the Clean Fuels Standard because we have no time to waste. We must take swift, bold action in defense of the people and places we love. I supported the Clean Fuels Standard because I believe in a thriving, beautiful world – I believe in us,” said Emma Coopersmith, a student at Northwest School and Sunrise Seattle youth activist.
Once Governor Inslee signs the bill into law, state agencies will begin work to bring Washington into the West Coast group of Clean Fuel Programs in California, Oregon and British Columbia. These states have already proven this program works: Oregon doubled its standard last year, and New Mexico and New York are also considering similar policies.
Leaders from across the spectrum and the state and region joined in their support for the action from Washington State:
“The USC Schwarzenegger Institute is thrilled that Washington will be joining Oregon and California in creating West Coast markets for cleaner, lower carbon fuels. Congratulations to Washington State Rep. Fitzgibbon and the amazing coalition,” said Fran Pavley, Former CA State Senator, USC Schwarzenegger Institute Environmental Policy Director
“Advanced Biofuels Canada congratulates Washington state’s leadership in clean fuels, and anticipates more green job growth from this regulation across the region,” said Ian Thomson, President, Advanced Biofuels Canada / Biocarburants avancés Canada
“With the passage of HB 1091, Washington State is showing once again that climate action and economic growth go hand in hand,” said Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, Ph.D, President & CEO, Biotechnology Innovation Organization. “In completing the clean fuels west coast, Washington state will create a more robust market for home-grown sustainable fuels, reduce our nation’s air pollution, and improve public health. BIO looks forward to Governor Jay Inslee signing the bill and thanks Representative Joe Fitzgibbon and other state lawmakers who helped make a low carbon fuel standard become a reality in Washington state.”
“The faith community has supported a clean fuel standard for years because we have a moral obligation to address transportation as our state’s largest source of pollution,” said LeeAnne Beres, Executive Director of Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light. “People of faith applaud the Legislature for taking this meaningful action for our climate and communities.”
“This win is for the people—as this incredible victory was possible because thousands of Washingtonians stood up to the oil industry and spent years organizing their friends and neighbors in support of a healthier future for all,” said Aaron Ostrom, Executive Director of Fuse Washington.
“The Washington Health Care Climate Alliance congratulates the legislature for passing a clean fuel standard, which will reduce air pollution and transportation emissions and improve the health of all Washingtonians, but especially the frontline communities who bear a disproportionate impact and resulting health disparities,” stated Robyn Rothman, JD, Associate Director, State Policy Programs, Health Care Without Harm U.S.
“For birds, people, and resilient Washington communities, passage of a Clean Fuel Standard is nothing short of game changing. The science is clear: we must be aggressive in reducing emissions and investing in solutions. Clean Fuels is a critical step on the path to net-zero carbon emissions. We applaud the Legislature, Governor Inslee, and the thousands of passionate advocates who, after years of diligent effort, can finally celebrate successful passage of this key climate policy,” said Deborah Jensen, VP and Executive Director, Audubon Washington.
“Fueling cars and trucks with electricity and other clean transportation fuels is among the most critical steps to addressing the climate crisis. By adopting a clean fuels standard—which also exists in Oregon, California and British Columbia—Washington is now well-positioned to clean up pollution from cars and trucks.” stated Jason Barbose, Senior Policy Manager, Union of Concerned Scientists.
”The Washington Legislature has made a commitment to not only improve air quality and the environment, but to support farmers as well. We are thrilled to see the state choose a proven low-carbon solution that is available now to reduce pollution and the release of greenhouse gas emissions. This legislation will benefit the health of Washingtonians for years to come,” said Floyd Vergara, Esq., P.E., Director of State Governmental Affairs, National Biodiesel Board.
“EVgo, the nation’s largest network of public EV fast charging, congratulates Washington for passing the Clean Fuels Standard. By doing so, Washington continues its leadership in taking meaningful steps in decarbonizing the transportation sector, one of the leading contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, and delivering the health benefits of better air quality for all,” said Adam Mohabbat, Market Development Manager, EVgo.
“Electrify America congratulates the State of Washington on its clean transportation and climate leadership in passing the Clean Fuels Standard. With over 137 ultra-fast chargers already open in the state, and another 59 currently under development, Electrify America is strongly committed to enabling convenient, reliable, and low-carbon transportation for Washingtonians,” said Matthew Nelson, Director of Government Affairs, Electrify America. “We wish to thank Representative Fitzgibbon for his leadership in sponsoring this important environmental policy, and look forward to continuing to work with the state to support clean vehicles and fuels.”
“SRECTrade applauds and respects the legislature’s accomplishment in sending HB 1091 to Governor Inslee. A Washington Clean Fuel Standard will help drive adoption of electric vehicles and accelerate the state’s new energy economy. HB 1091 is a significant environmental and economic win for communities and businesses in Washington State,” said Evan Rosenberg, Senior Manager, SRECTrade Client Development & Policy.
“The Low Carbon Fuels Coalition is dedicated to the support and expansion of low carbon fuel policies. We are thrilled that Washington has fulfilled a crucial goal of the Pacific Coast Collaborative and established a clean fuel coastline that extends from California through Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. We thank Representative Fitzgibbon and Governor Inslee for their tireless work on behalf of this bill. We are proud to have been a long-term advocate for a Washington CFS in close coordination with the in-state leadership of Climate Solutions and Clean Fuel Washington.” stated Graham Noyes, Executive Director, Low Carbon Fuels Coalition.
“The Clean Fuel Standard will significantly increase renewable natural gas development throughout the state, and the RNG Coalition is proud to have supported the policy throughout the legislative process,” noted Sam Wade, Director of State Regulatory Affairs, RNG Coalition.
“ChargePoint is pleased to see Washington state join its Pacific Coast Collaborative partners in adopting a clean fuel standard” said Anne Smart, Vice President, Public Policy, ChargePoint. “Implementing a CFS will make the switch to cleaner, more affordable transportation more seamless by improving access to charging for consumers, businesses, and fleets.”
“The Washington State Clean Fuels Standard—combined with existing programs in California, Oregon and British Columbia—will result in rapid decarbonization of the region’s transportation sector through a performance standard that is technology neutral. The Washington program will provide the long-term market signals and certainty that can drive innovation, economic development, job creation, cleaner air, and put us on the path to net zero carbon emissions by mid-century. This is a model for the rest of the nation to follow, and we know low-carbon biofuels like ethanol will have a major role to play,” said Geoff Cooper, CEO, Renewable Fuels Association.
“We applaud the Washington State Legislature’s passage of HB 1091. A Washington Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) will help accelerate the switch to cleaner, more affordable fuels in Washington while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and criteria air pollutants from the transportation sector. In addition to cutting down on GHG emissions and criteria air pollutants, a CFS will stimulate local economic and job growth through investment in clean transportation technologies,” said Vic Shao, Founder and CEO of AMPLY Power.
“The passing of a Clean Fuel Standard in Washington is a huge leap forward in our effort to reduce green-house gas emissions from the transportation sector and to move our economy away from fossil fuels towards sustainable, low carbon fuels such as biodiesel made from used cooking oil. Way to go!,” cheered Ian Hill, NW Policy Director for Crimson Renewables & Co-founder of SeQuential Biodiesel
ABOUT THE CLEAN FUELS COALITION
Hundreds of organizations, local elected officials and jurisdictions, health associations and hospitals, small businesses, unions and advocacy groups support clean fuels and have been working for several years to see the solution come to Washington. @cleanfuelswork cleanfuelswork.com
ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL PRIORITIES COALITION
The Environmental Priorities Coalition is a network of over twenty leading environmental groups in Washington state that influence policy at the state level. For over a decade, the Coalition has selected joint priority issues to work on during the legislative session to help focus environmental community resources and best achieve our shared goals. @epctweets environmentalpriorities.org