Climate Change Legislation Moving Forward in Olympia

The state Senate Ways and Means Committee has approved SSB 6203 — reducing carbon pollution by investing in rural economic development and a clean-energy economy. With the committee’s vote on Thursday evening, this is a crucial step toward implementing smart climate policy that works for Washington.

“It’s encouraging to see so many stakeholders engaging in the legislative process to make this bill better as it advances,” said our state director, Mike Stevens. “This is a significant opportunity for our state to invest in our rivers, forests, farms and communities and reduce carbon pollution, in a way that benefits Washingtonians — rural and urban — across the state.”

Washingtonians support putting a price on carbon to invest in the health of our natural environment and our communities. The Nature Conservancy is one of many voices who have testified in support of a clean-energy economy transition that takes advantage of the tremendous potential our natural resources offer in addressing the climate challenge. Along with many others, we are advocating for a policy that ensures this transition will be beneficial for all Washingtonians.

Erosion damage and debris on Washaway Beach. Photo by Kit Swartz. 

The Ways and Means Committee had heard testimony last week from dozens of residents and individuals representing organizations with a stake in the future of Washington’s climate, economy and natural resources. Witnesses who spoke before the committee at the public hearing on Feb. 15 included representatives from the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters, Public Utility Districts, the Bonneville Power Administration, Washington State Labor Council AFL-CIO, League of Women Voters of Washington and the Makah Tribe — as well as many businesses including Puget Sound Energy, Taylor Shellfish, Green Diamond and the Washington Business for Climate Action network.

“This bill represents the best opportunity we have in a generation for truly investing in our natural resources that support our communities and our economies,” said Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, who also testified at last week’s hearing.

View from the Chumstick prescribed burn. Photo by Kara Karboski.

The steps ahead are:

  • Senate Rules Pull
  • Senate Floor Vote
  • House Environment Committee Hearing and Executive Action
  • House Appropriations Committee Hearing and Executive Action
  • House Rules Pull
  • House Floor Vote
  • Reconciliation between House and Senate versions of bill, if chambers differ
  • Final Floor Votes in House and Senate
  • Governor’s signature

As a fiscal committee, Ways and Means was charged with considering the financial opportunities and impacts this policy would create for Washingtonians across our state. The bill now must pass the Senate Rules Committee before heading to that chamber’s floor.  It has a long way to go in a short time before being adopted by the full Legislature.

We have less than two weeks left in this year’s short session. If this bill is to keep moving forward, our elected lawmakers need to hear from Washingtonians who are invested in protecting our state from the costly and disruptive effects of climate change.

Hundreds of organizations and individuals statewide have actively engaged in the development of this legislation. From the flooding and wildfires that threaten our homes and farms, to the ocean acidification that could destroy our world-renowned shellfish industry, to the public-health risks associated with polluted air and water: We all know the cost of not acting is far too high. By joining us in these efforts, you too can encourage a vibrant economy and healthy environment for Washington.

Mount Rainier Looms over the Puyallup Valley, Washington. © USGS

Show Your Support

Now’s the time to tell your legislators how important climate action is to you. Here’s what you can do:

  • Email your senator and share your support for climate action.
  • Keep the conversation going on social media using #ActOnClimate and #waleg.
  • Sign up to receive our updates on climate change.

Washingtonians are ready for climate action and a price on climate-damaging pollution. We deserve a strong, equitable plan that will protect our economy and jobs, secure the health and future of our families and celebrate our culture of innovation to make our state the clean energy leader of America.