Update: Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon updated the status of three of these bills in the Comments.

Rep. Vandana Slatter

A key bill to reset the state’s anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions reductions schedule to a more ambitious pace recommended by the State Department of Ecology, House Bill 2311, by Rep. Vandana Slatter (D – Bellevue) is running up against a deadline to get out of the House Appropriations Committee.

The bill would set deadlines for reducing the state government’s and overall carbon dioxide emissions, culminating in a 2050 deadline for carbon neutrality, with carbon sequestration taken into account.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a stark report in 2018 calling for such a rapid emissions reduction. Achieving worldwide reduction goals will, as a matter of political reality, require those states and nations that can reduce emissions faster to do so. A similar bill failed last year, putting even Washington State behind the scientists’ called-for schedule.

The deadline to get out of committee is Tuesday, and the bill has already been pulled from the committee’s action lists twice.

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbons’ (D – Burien) cleaner-fuels bill, HB 1110, is also back. The bill would direct the Department of Ecology to adopt a rule establishing a Clean Fuels Program to limit the greenhouse gas emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035.

The bill made it through the House last year, and died in the Senate Transportation Committee, where it faced opposition from committee chair Steve Hobbs (D – Lake Stevens). Hobbs unsuccessfully pushed a competing bill to enact a carbon tax for funding highway construction and maintenance.

HB 1110 has already passed the House again this year.

Sen. Joe Nguyen

Another wide-reaching bill has already passed the Senate a second time, by a margin similar to last year. SB 5811, by Sen. Joe Nguyen (D – Seattle) would bring Washington in line with California’s clean-car standards.

The bill died in the House Environment & Energy Committee last year. It also drew opposition from Sen. Hobbs. but did not have to go through his committee.

These three big bills are part of a large collection of climate action bills working their way through the Legislature. Other climate action bills relevant to the transportation sector include:

  • HB 2310 would set up a process for on-demand transportation providers to measure their greenhouse gas emissions and have the Department of Ecology set emissions reductions goals for these providers that would kick in in 2024. The bill is in the House Rules Committee.
  • HB 2892, would authorize the Department of Ecology to regulate greenhouse gas emissions associated with producers and distributors of fossil fuel products that emit greenhouse gases in Washington. The bill is a result of the state supreme court striking down an Ecology Department rule. The bill is still awaiting a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee.
  • SB 6628 is similar to, but not an official companion for, HB 2892. It is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.
  • SB 6432 would prohibit leasing tidal or submerged lands adjacent to the outer continental shelf for oil or gas surface drilling and infrastructure for handling or transporting through state waters, essentially banning offshore drilling. The bill is in the Senate Rules Committee.

These bills have until next Wednesday to get out of their chamber of origin. You can use the district-finder tool to look up your legislators’ contact information.

14 Replies to “Climate bills in Olympia: what’s moving, what’s delayed”

  1. HB 2311 passed out of House Appropriations on Saturday.

    HB 2892 is not subject to the cutoff deadline because in its current form it raises state revenue (fee authority under the Clean Air Act) and can be declared necessary to implement the budget.

    SB 5811 will be heard in House Environment & Energy this Wednesday morning.

    1. Thanks for the updates! I look forward to seeing the final committee vote tally on HB 2311. Since it passed very late Saturday, I don’t know if the deadline has passed for signing the yes, no, and abstain signature sheets.

      I learned a hard lesson when a bill I was working on years ago passed in committee pending signatures, and then sufficient signatures failed to emerge.

  2. HB 2515, which would require all cars sold in Washington State to be electric after 2030, seems relevant to this post. It is scheduled for a House Transportation Committee hearing today.

    1. Well THAT’s a way to destroy the dealerships in Washington. And what about the folks in EWa?

      I’m all for gubmint subsidies for ECars, but banning fueled cars in just ten years is seriously pre-mature. Maybe in Puget Sound where abundant charging facilities may be available. But there will probably never be a charging station in Connell, but there are two gas stations.

      1. It’s not remotely premature, the only chance we have for avoiding civilizational collapse via massive climate disruption is ending all fossil fuel use within 10 years. There’s no give in that number. Anything that contributes to that is crucial.

      2. I’m sorry, but 3°C is not going to cause “civilizational collapse”. Will lots of people die sooner than they otherwise might have? Yes. Will there be famines? Yes. Will low seashore be flooded? Yes.

        But none of these things will cause “civilizational collapse”. People live in fortified houses in Afghanistan, but they manage to raise food (and opium poppies) have children and rear them to adulthood.

        Might we go without Facebook and STB? Yes. Certainly things would be different than they are now, but things would be different from what they are now in a Carbon-neutral world, too. For instance, you won’t be flying in a jet for much more than two hundred miles. You might cross the Oceans in Helium dirigibles at eighty knots, but otherwise you’ll take a liner like your third great grandparents.

        Electric cars simply don’t have the energy density to travel in sparsely populated country. We will need fueled cars for that. Now I’d prefer to see Hydrogen-fueled if that H were dissociated by solar power, but fueled cars and trucks will be with us for a LOOOOONG time or we city mice will starve.

      3. Civilizations has collapsed for environmental reasons many times in history. 3 degrees Celsius in such a short time frame is unprecedented.

        Climate change can cause crop failures and mass migration. Basically what destroyed the western roman empire.

        The reason we had large migrations from central america over the past few years? Crop failures from climate change.

      4. “People live in fortified houses in Afghanistan, but they manage to raise food (and opium poppies) have children and rear them to adulthood.”

        That’s not what people mean by civilization. That’s what happens after the collapse. Some people will manage to have makeshift normal lives like the independent American farmers of the 1800s. But they won’t make money selling opium because long-distance trade will collapse so they can’t get to market efficiently, and economies will collapse so customers won’t be able to pay for them, governments will collapse and fiat currencies will ose their backing, and infrastructure will collapse so ATMs won’t work or be refilled and smartphones and credit-card networks won’t work. You can restore old-fashioned caravan routes and barter, but that’s a fraction of the trade and wealth that the modern system generates. Chinese tea and Central American coffee will either be gone or incredibly expensive.

      5. You’ll doubtless say that those American farmers and spice-trade routes were called civilization at the time and that civilization (towns, governments) started thousands of years BC. But we don’t need to rewind all that to have what modern people would consider a collapse of their civilization. Climate change will at minimum put entire countries underwater and destroy agricultural regions, which will cause massive migrations, which could further destabilize other countries, etc.

      6. And yes, 3 degrees celsius, or even 1.5 as looks inevitable, will determine how much of those climate impacts occur.

      7. A rapid climate change of over 3 degrees Celsius has definitely happened before, even in the past two millennia. A large volcanic eruption in 535 AD caused a global ash based cold snap that lasted for at least two years.

        And civilizations fell as a direct result of it.

  3. Is there any way for us laypeople to know which bills are subject to the usual legislative deadlines, and which bills aren’t? I’m sure there’s some sort of method, but it seems arbitrary to me what bills are considered budget-related.

  4. But from Palumbo s vantage point, a carbon tax could certainly be in the cards. And this, he says, is a real question that Washington s business community needs to be asking: Do they want to get on board with a moderate, legislative compromise? Or do they want to roll the dice and wait and see how voters behave in 2018?

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