Advancing policy solutions to power a clean economy

March 29, 2024

At the top of our homepage, it says “Advancing policy solutions to power a clean economy”. Yesterday, Governor Jay Inslee signed three policy solutions passed by the legislature that will help power a clean economy. We especially want to thank Environment and Energy Committee Chairs Senator Joe Nguyen and Representative Beth Doglio, and acknowledge the hard work of the many advocates and business leaders who helped to advance all three of these policy solutions:

SB 6058 Facilitating linkage of Washington’s carbon market with the California-Québec carbon market

Governor Inslee signs legislation at IBEW union hall.

The Climate Commitment Act was designed to allow for Washington to link with other carbon markets. We have written about the efficiencies of linking with California, and also with Québec.

On our study mission to Québec, Onil Bergeron from Québec’s Office of Climate and Energy Transition described Cap-and-Invest as “a game-changer for climate and the economy”, as it is “robust and flexible, offering choices to reduce emissions at the lowest possible cost”. He went on to say that linking Québec’s carbon market with California’s was “a no-brainer. The bigger the market, the more efficient.”

The Environmental Defense Fund writes,

“Washington, California and Québec have a lot to gain from linkage. It can drive deeper cuts in climate pollution, lower prices and increase the stability of the carbon market. The programs in these jurisdictions are already aligned in the central ways needed to function as a linked market — but to unlock the greatest benefits of linkage, leaders need to align key aspects of these carbon markets in their respective processes.”

Resources for the Future writes,

“Linking has two key benefits. It reduces the cost of achieving Washington’s climate goals and broadens the state’s influence in advancing climate policy beyond its borders. If Washington links with other jurisdictions in a common effort to drive emissions reductions, it will legitimize and enable efforts to implement carbon pricing and companion regulatory policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere. Linking would substantially enhance the rigor, influence, and durability of Washington’s climate policy efforts. The benefits of linking would accrue to all three jurisdictions, but Washington’s newly formed carbon market would especially benefit by boosting its stability and the influence that its leadership can have throughout the nation and internationally.”

In order to link markets, regulatory and governance mechanisms must be aligned. SB 6058 does just that, by establishing mechanisms and procedures for linkage. This includes coordinating reporting requirements, compliance mechanisms, and enforcement procedures to facilitate smooth operation across jurisdictions. It includes provisions aimed at maintaining market stability and integrity within the linked carbon markets such as measures to prevent market manipulation, ensure transparency in trading activities, and establish safeguards against fraud or abuse. 

This month all three jurisdictions issued a joint statement expressing their shared interest in linking markets.

HB1589 Transitioning to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future

Washington’s largest utility, Puget Sound Energy, will be a major force in driving the transition to our clean energy future. The legislation compels PSE to proactively plan for the transition to clean energy and to aid its customers in affording the transition. In particular, HB 1589 will bring a comprehensive focus to integrated system planning, establish workforce agreements for project labor, and phase out incentives* for natural gas appliances in favor of incentives for electric appliances (Section 8). It’s a holistic approach to reducing carbon emissions, fostering job creation, ensuring workforce development, and protecting consumers from future energy cost increases.

As our Executive Director, Michael Mann wrote in his letter to Governor Inslee, “The bill reaffirms Washington’s commitment to a clean, sustainable, and equitable energy future. It will ensure that our transition to clean energy is managed in a way that is fair to all Washingtonians, particularly those in vulnerable communities who stand to benefit the most from a clean energy economy.”

* Note that incentives for gas appliances are phased out, not the allowable use or purchase of gas appliances. Commercial and industrial customers can access incentives until 2031. Beware of the misinformation campaign calling this a gas ban. It isn’t. Have questions about what HB 1589 really does? See this FAQ from Puget Sound Energy explaining key provisions of the bill

HB 1368 Funding the purchase of electric school buses 

We’ve written about why we believe the future of yellow is green. So we’re happy to read this headline from Whidbey Island: “New electric school bus unveiled on South Whidbey”.

The electric school bus on Whidbey Island was funded by the EPA’s Clean School Program Rebate. Now, with Washington’s HB 1368, more “green” yellow buses will be rolling to our schools across the state. The bill allocates funding (thanks to the Climate Commitment Act) for the purchase of electric school buses, and for the necessary fueling infrastructure needed for zero emission student transportation. Priority is given to school districts serving tribes and vulnerable populations in overburdened communities. Electric buses produce zero tailpipe emissions and reduce harmful air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and carbon dioxide. By transitioning to electric buses, school districts can contribute to cleaner air and a healthier environment for students, drivers, and communities.

Governor Inslee also signed the 2024 Washington state supplemental transportation budget (HB 2134), that includes another priority of ours: the Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emissions Vehicle rebate program. Members of the Clean & Prosperous Washington MHD ZEV Working Group deserve great credit for bringing a critical carbon reduction idea forward and helping to craft a rebate program that will provide air quality improvements to Washington residents for years to come.

Clean & Prosperous Washington is a project of the Washington Business Alliance.
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