MARYSVILLE — Ahead of an upcoming ballot measure challenging landmark climate legislation, Gov. Jay Inslee visited Marysville on Tuesday to champion the Climate Commitment Act.
Passed by the state Legislature in 2021, the act established a cap-and-invest program for the state’s largest polluters.
The program sets an annual limit for Washington’s overall carbon emissions. Businesses are then required to buy allowances for every metric ton of pollution they emit at quarterly auctions hosted by the state Department of Ecology.
The program went into effect in January 2023, but Inslee said counties are just starting to roll out new electric vehicle charging stations and other projects that will receive funding from the law. In November, voters could see Initiative 2117 on their ballots, which could repeal the cap-and-trade program.
“If that goes away, that knocks a $5 billion hole into the transportation budget,” Inslee said, after taking a group photo beside two electric vehicle fast-charging stations in Marysville.
Critics of the Climate Commitment Act are concerned the policy has increased prices on fuel, food and energy prices.
“That’s not the job of the government to put this burden on people’s backs,” Brian Heywood, the hedge fund manager who has led the opposition to the act, said in an article published by The Seattle Times in November.
Earlier this month, the state Department of Commerce announced plans to award over $85 million in grants to install nearly 5,000 vehicle charging stations throughout the state. Snohomish County will receive over 400 of the stations, according to the governor’s office.
The charging stations in Marysville on Tuesday were not funded by the Climate Commitment Act, he said. But the location, near the city’s downtown, reflects where the state plans to place future stations.
“We are making sure that many of them are available to people who don’t live in an apartment or house,” Inslee said.
The governor also discussed the expansion of the Cascade Industrial Center with city officials, as it plans to welcome new businesses like Tesla and Amazon that Inslee said are dedicated to the clean energy transition.
Inslee then toured a home in Marysville’s Glenwood neighborhood that participated in Snohomish County’s longstanding weatherization program.
Homeowner Laurel Hage qualified for the Snohomish County Public Utility District’s discount program, allowing her home to receive updates that dramatically lowered her bills.
Contractors reduced air leakage, insulated the attic and improved ventilation, the program’s supervisor Matthew Bell said.
These changes typically save homeowners 25% to 35% on utilities, Bell said.
Last month, Hage’s neighbor paid over $300 in utilities, she said. She paid just over $100.
The Climate Commitment Act provides additional money to the state Department of Commerce that it can allocate to local utilities like Snohomish County PUD for programs like this one.
Inslee said his visit in Marysville exemplified how the Climate Commitment Act will aid residents disproportionately impacted by pollution.
“This act can help the community in a whole bunch of different ways,” Inslee said. “And it’s just starting.”