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Session Wrap: WA Lawmakers Leave Climate-Action Bills Behind

Bills that would have helped Washington state meet its net-zero emissions climate goal failed to pass in the Legislature. (vivalapenler/Adobe Stock)
Bills that would have helped Washington state meet its net-zero emissions climate goal failed to pass in the Legislature. (vivalapenler/Adobe Stock)
March 13, 2020

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Groups seeking action on climate change and forest fires say the Washington state Legislature did not go far enough to slow the crisis this session.

Lawmakers adjourned yesterday, abandoning bills that would have targeted the state's biggest greenhouse-gas emitting sector - transportation. The measures would have established a statewide low-carbon fuel standard and given the state authority to regulate mobile emission sources such as fossil-fuel companies under the Clean Air Act.

Mo McBroom, director of government relations with The Nature Conservancy of Washington, says lawmakers did pass a bill setting a net-zero emissions goal within three decades.

"We have a small and important step forward in establishing where we need to get to by 2050, but unfortunately we have not implemented any major policies to actually get there," says McBroom.

McBroom says California, Oregon and British Columbia have clean-fuel standards, making Washington the only West Coast jurisdiction without one.

Groups also were disappointed that a bill that would have helped communities prepare and respond to wildfires failed to pass.

Sarah Cornett, climate program and advocacy manager with the Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, says all of the bills that didn't pass would have helped the state's most vulnerable, including rural communities, low-income folks and people of color.

She believes this is a missed opportunity to improve public health.

"We saw really unprecedented support from the health-care and medical community this year, which is something really unique and shows that the community is behind climate solutions because we know that they will improve human health and save costs," says Cornett.

Cornett says the coalition of supporters behind climate action included the Washington State Medical Association, Washington State Association of Family Doctors and Pediatricians and an alliance of hospitals across the state.

While the groups are disappointed, Cornett says they were happy to see the 2050 net-zero emissions bill pass.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA