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Gov. Inslee announces 'comprehensive climate program' to reduce emissions

The proposal would cap greenhouse gas emissions for the state's largest-emitting industries. Gov. Inslee said these opportunities would also create jobs.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing a bill that would create a "comprehensive climate program" to reduce emissions by 2030.

The program, according to Inslee's office, would meet statewide greenhouse gas limits, improve climate resilience and reduce climate change impacts on communities and ecosystems.

"With the last legislative session, we have done some really good work in our state, but it is clear that we need to move forward with these steps that we're going to meet our legislatively adopted requirements and our moral obligation to ourselves and our grandchildren," Inslee said at a press conference on Tuesday.  

The bill, called the Climate Commitment Act, would establish principles and standards for a climate program that uses the best data and provides necessary authority, and more. It would cap greenhouse gas emissions for the state's largest-emitting industries and authorize the Department of Ecology to oversee a program that "ensures industries comply through the sale, tracking, and accounting of greenhouse gas credits (or allowances).

Proceeds from the sale of allowances would be placed in a climate investment account and used for investments in clean transportation, natural climate resilience solutions, clean energy transitions and assistance, and emissions reduction projects. 

The governor's budget includes $12.6 million to begin implementing the proposed Climate Commitment Act. 

Additionally, Inslee is proposing $2.85 million for the Department of Ecology to implement a clean fuel standards program and expanding electric ferries and transit – including $318 million over four years for ferries and $15 million in capital grants to help electrify the transit system.

According to Inslee, most of the carbon emissions in the state are from the transportation sector, particularly with Washington State Ferries.

To combat this, Inslee said the budget includes funding for a new hybrid-electric ferry and conversion of an existing ferry to a hybrid-electric ferry. 

The state Legislature would need to approve Inslee's proposal in an upcoming session for it to become law.

"Climate change is something that is, or can be and should be and must be under our control. We have the tools to defeat COVID and we're going to use them and we will. And we have the tools to defeat climate change, and we will," Inslee said.