Gov. Jay Inslee announces climate change legislation in Olympia during the second day of his 2020 budget rollout. (Office of the Governor)

Gov. Jay Inslee announces climate change legislation in Olympia during the second day of his 2020 budget rollout. (Office of the Governor)

Cleaner fuel, cleaner cars will be Inslee’s focus in 2020

The governor says he’ll seek a low carbon fuel standard and greater availability of electric vehicles.

OLYMPIA — A low-carbon fuel standard and greater availability of electric vehicles are the centerpieces of Gov. Jay Inslee’s climate change agenda for the upcoming 2020 legislative session.

He also wants to expand tax incentives for purchases of solar power, require that rideshare companies reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and toughen rules used to evaluate how proposed manufacturing facilities may contribute to the negative effects of climate change.

“What we have done has been good but it is not enough,” he said at a news conference Thursday. “Despite our significant efforts we are well, well short of doing what is necessary to protect Washingtonians from the scourge of climate change.”

Inslee’s focal point since entering office has been combating climate change. In 2019, he secured several victories on that front.

He signed a law to transition the state to having 100% of its electricity supply generated from clean energy sources by 2045. Other laws he signed aim to bring improved energy efficiency in new construction, greater incentives for electric and zero-emission vehicles, and eliminate superpollutants.

But, he said often Thursday, the tide isn’t turning in the fight and the state cannot rest in its efforts.

He is backing passage of House Bill 1110 to establish a low carbon fuel standard similar to ones in place in California and Oregon.

The bill would require that gasoline be produced with a little less concentration of carbon molecules, so when the fuel burns there will be be less greenhouse gas and other pollution-causing emissions. It will raise the price of gas though there’s debate on how much.

It also would create a program in which companies can earn credits for each metric ton of greenhouse gas emission that is reduced and those credits can be sold to others unable to achieve required reductions.

Last session, the bill squeezed through the Democrat-controlled House on party lines then stalled in the Senate Transportation Committee.

Another bill Inslee backs would, by 2025, require at least 25% of all new vehicles for sale in Washington to be electric or zero-emission vehicles.

“Washingtonians deserve cleaner fuels in their cars and they deserve cleaner cars,” he said. “That’s what they’re going to have.”

A critic of the governor’s agenda said the approaches are a pricey means that will not achieve the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions he desires.

“What he’s proposing doesn’t do much but it costs a lot,” said Todd Myers, environmental policy specialist with the politically conservative Washington Policy Center.

Despite claiming we face a climate crisis, the proposals are centered around the least effective approaches to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, said Myers, who is director of the think tank’s Center for the Environment.

The low carbon fuel standard, for example. In Oregon, using the standard, the price to reduce one metric ton of CO2 from vehicle emissions is $157.45, he wrote on the center’s website. In California, the price was $195 in November, based on data compiled by the state Air Resources Board.

Compare that to Seattle City Light, which he said spends about $7 a metric ton to offset emissions from natural gas. That’s done through investments in various projects, he said. The bottom line, he said, is the governor’s policy costs a lot more to achieve the same result.

The 2020 session begins Jan. 13 and is slated to last 60 days.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald Twitter: @dospueblos

Talk to us

More in Local News

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Inslee: The president made me speed up teacher vaccinations

Here’s what’s happening on Day 54 of the 2021 session of the Washington Legislature.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee speaks with special ed Pre-K teacher Michelle Ling in her classroom at Phantom Lake Elementary School in Bellevue, Wash. Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times via AP, Pool)
Governor: Educators are now eligible for coronavirus vaccine

“This should give educators more confidence,” Jay Inslee said. Other frontline workers could soon be next.

Frances McDormand in "Nomadland." (Searchlight Pictures) 20210304
Masked in a nearly empty theater, a movie outing at last

Just four of us were in the audience for a matinee showing of “Nomadland” at Stanwood Cinemas.

James Myles walks his 5-month-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi Ellie around Martha Lake Park on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 in Lynnwood, Washington. Myles entered Ellie into a contest called Americas Favorite Pet, where she's currently in 2nd place for her group. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Vote for Ellie: Fluffy corgi from Lynnwood vying for top dog

“Her Fluffiness” is competing to be America’s Favorite Pet. The contest raised $300,000 for PAWS last year.

A view of the courtyard leading to the main entrance of the new Stanwood High building on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020 in Stanwood, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Law gives Washington high school seniors leeway to graduate

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that can waive some requirements for students who were on track before the pandemic.

A Marysville Pilchuck football player sports a spear on his helmet as the Tomahawks took on Snohomish in the Wesco 3A Championship Friday evening at Quil Ceda Stadium on November 1, 2019. School district leaders may soon need to consider dropping Marysville Pilchuck High School’s mascot, the Tomahawks. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Should Marysville Pilchuck High drop the name ‘Tomahawks’?

A state bill would ban Native American mascots and symbols from schools — unless there is tribal permission.

Snohomish County Council delays education spending vote

The council is now slated to decide next week on the measure, which targets a pre-K learning gap.

Erin Staadecker (left-right) Jael Weinburg and Kaylee Allen with Rosie formed the Edmonds firm Creative Dementia Collective. The company helps memory care patients and care-givers by providing art, music and other creative therapies. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
This startup offers artful therapy for dementia patients

Creative Dementia Collective uses art and music to help them — and their caregivers.

Darlene Tanis sorts through book titles Thursday morning at the Everett Library on March 4, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Shrinking the ‘digital divide,’ area libraries slowly reopen

This week, services such as computer and Wi-Fi use — and even book-browsing — were reinstated.

Most Read