The Washington state Legislature adjourned Sunday night, after taking giant steps forward for nature and people this session. Several new, groundbreaking policies will solidify Washington state as a national leader in tackling climate change.
Last week, on Earth Day, lawmakers put their final approval on the centerpiece of a set climate-change bills – the 100% Clean Electricity bill – along with a measure to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). These bills joined the Clean Buildings for Washington Act in awaiting Governor Inslee’s signature to make them law. Sign up for updates to receive an invitation to join us for the bill-signing celebration on May 7.
Though Initiative 1631 (the 2018 ballot measure to put a price on carbon pollution in Washington) did not pass, the coalition we helped to build reached across traditional boundaries to bring together business and labor, tribes, health organizations, faith leaders, communities of color, social justice organizations and the environmental community. Undaunted, this mighty partnership carried forward its momentum to continue advocating for smart, equitable climate policy in Olympia.
We applaud our partners in advocacy for meaningful action, and the champions in the House and Senate who made it a reality. As our climate continues to change, stressing our economic, environmental and social systems, we will be better equipped to meet these challenges thanks to forward-looking leaders and advocates. Today, we celebrate together!
Explore the Science on Equity
Explore: Front & Centered’s Washington state Environmental Health Disparities Map
Advancing environmental equity
The Legislature approved policies to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but to prioritize communities that have been overlooked and underserved by environmental progress in the past. The capital budget included support for equity in environmental health, creating a task force to address the unequal distribution of health risks and pollution impacts across Washington.
Legislators also approved support for programs that enhance the resilience of our communities and natural systems:
Floodplains by Design received $50.4 million—its highest biennial appropriation ever—allowing nine integrated river management projects to proceed, reducing flood risk to homes, farms and businesses, restoring fish habitat and enhancing recreation opportunities.
The Washington Coast Restoration and Resiliency Initiative received $14.1 million, a stronger-than-ever show of support for a program that provides jobs in coastal communities through ecosystem restoration work.
The Department of Natural Resources and Department of Fish and Wildlife received $16.2 million for forest hazard reduction to reduce wildfire risk.
Additionally, legislators signaled their support for cleaning up polluted stormwater before it reaches our waterways, with $83.2 million for the Stormwater Financial Assistance Program and $1.5 million to support an innovative public-private partnership to filter runoff with green stormwater infrastructure. They also passed a bill to update the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA), stabilizing funding for the cleanup of toxic sites and polluted runoff.
Ever onward, together
There is more work to do: restore the health of our forests and protect communities from wildfire; clean up Puget Sound and recover the salmon and orca that depend on it; and bolster the health and resilience of communities across Washington. We will continue to work with partners old and new to advance public policy and budget support to benefit nature and people. We will amplify the voices of supporters like you who demand a green and healthy future for all of Washington. But at this historic moment, let’s celebrate!