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News for January 20, 2022

Washington Governor Proposes $626M for Climate Initiatives

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Washington Governor Jay Inslee has proposed a $626-million 2022 budget for an array of climate actions, the official revealed at a Monday event with legislators in Olympia.

If his ideas succeed, Washingtonians will get thousands of dollars back when they purchase electric vehicles. They will also be able to switch from fossil fuels to electricity for their home, according to a report.

Inslee’s plans focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the construction and transportation sectors. The plans also suggest funding the states’ clean energy market and providing funding to carry out the Climate Commitment Act, an important emission reduction law approved earlier this year.

“Today is a day of great danger in the state of Washington and great opportunity,” Inslee declared on Monday, in reference to this summer’s wildfires and extreme heat in addition to the recent Nooksack River flooding. These extreme weather conditions are likely to increase in frequency and grow more severe due to climate change.

The budget he is proposing is made solely based on current sources of income, Inslee said. Federal dollars are arriving in Washington via the recently-approved infrastructure program, and the governor expects that there will be additional climate funds available when the reconciliation bill is approved.

Washington must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent lower than 1990 levels in 2030. The goal is to reach zero emissions in 2050. Washington isn’t currently close to achieving its 2030 goal, with a forecast emission reduction of 25 percent instead of 45 percent below the 1990 levels, according to Washington’s Department of Ecology.

Half of the newly-planned climate investments, which is around $350 million, are focused on cleansing the transportation sector, the largest source of carbon emissions.

Some legislators at the Monday event supported Inslee’s plans, including State Senator Reuven Carlyle, State Rep. Alex Ramel, and State Rep. Debra Lekanoff.

However, not everyone in the Washington State Legislature accepted his plans.

State Rep. Mary Dye, ranking Republican on the House Environment and Energy Committee, criticized the governor’s proposals in a statement issued Monday, declaring that they weren’t specific enough to address climate-related impacts like floods, wildfires, destruction to agriculture, and pollution.

Dye would like to see approval of House Republicans’ recently-published Outdoor Recreation and Climate Adaptation (ORCA) Plan.

“Our plan also provides jobs by cleaning up and expanding our state parks, extending outdoor recreational opportunities, and we would eliminate the Discover Pass so that no one across our state is denied the ability to enjoy our parks because they cannot afford the fees,” Dye said in the statement.

ORCA Plan would utilize funds generated by the Climate Commitment Act’s cap-and-invest program to fund outdoor recreation and preparing for climate change effects. It doesn’t include additional measures to cut down on Washington’s emissions or its dependence on fossil fuels, such as natural gas. These fuels contribute to climate change, the report added.

Inslee will unveil his complete 2022 supplemental budget proposal tomorrow (December 16).

The governor is hosting numerous events to promote his most important proposals, such as the climate event held on Monday. There was also a discussion on salmon on Tuesday in La Conner, and another regarding homelessness today in Seattle.

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