2019 Legislative Session

2019 Legislative Session

For years, legislators told us they didn’t hear from their constituents enough about climate, so we set out to change that, and we did: Civic Action Team members blew through our initial goals, collectively making 4,200 contacts with legislators by phone and email!

For the first time in over a decade, climate legislation was prioritized in Olympia.

Here are some of the bills we were tracking this session, and how they turned out. For our thoughts on the session and what it means going forward, check out this blog post.

Bills That Passed

100% Clean Energy
SB 5116 makes sure that Washington’s electricity grid will phase out coal by 2025, be 80% fossil free by 2030, and 100% fossil free by 2045. This bill requires utilities to transition equitably, incorporates the social cost of carbon and, in a first, links tax incentives to job quality criteria. No other state has done a clean energy bill like this one.

Clean Buildings
HB 1257 tackles the rising greenhouse gas footprint of the building sector by setting energy efficiency standards for large buildings, fracked gas conservation standards, and electric vehicle readiness in buildings.

Appliance efficiency standards
HB 1444 strengthens energy and water efficiency requirements and promotes grid-ready electric hot water heaters to enable future utility demand response programs.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from hydrofluorocarbons
HB 1112 establishes deadlines for banning hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), super-potent greenhouse gases that can be thousands of times more damaging to the climate than carbon, as well as products using them or manufactured with them.

Utility Investments to Electrify Transportation
HB 1512 helps utilities prepare for the transition to electric vehicles with investments in infrastructure and demand response.

Green Transportation
HB 2042 starts the transition to electric vehicles with provisions for infrastructure, tax breaks for electric vehicle purchases, and the electrification of transit fleets.

Increased Residential Capacity
HB 1923 encourages density by relaxing rules, providing planning grants, reducing parking quotas, and specifying a menu of density and affordability options.

Orca Habitat
HB 1579 supports forage fish and Chinook salmon habitat, two crucial parts of the food chain our local orca depend on.

Orcas and Vessel Noise
SB 5577 sets limits for vessel speeds and proximity when orca are present.

Orcas and Oil Safety
HB 1578 requires tug escorts for oil transport, including articulated barges.

Preventing Toxic Pollution
SB 5135 enhances local source control programs and toxic cleanups, testing for toxics in products, and the reduction of chemicals in wastewater.

In the Budget

Environmental Justice
HB 2009, the HEAL Act, would have 1) created a definition of environmental justice, 2) directed agencies to address environmental health disparities, and 3) created a task force to recommend how best to incorporate environmental justice principles into how state agencies discharge their responsibilities. Business interests prevented the bill from passing, but the task force was funded in the budget. Expect more on this next year.

Snake River Dam Removal
The state budget includes funding for a two-year outreach effort to explore the impacts and ramifications of removing four dams on the Snake River, a potentially crucial element in restoring the Chinook salmon population, the primary food of our local orcas.

Electrification of State Vehicles
HB 1832 would have begun the long-promised conversion of state vehicle fleets. Some money for a targeted study made it into the budget.

Sustainable Farms and Forestry
SB 5947 sought to encourage pesticide and fossil fuel reduction, as well as improve soil health and increase carbon sequestration, but it ran into opposition from the farm lobby. A modest study grant will produce a recommendation for next year.

Not This Year

Upstream Methane Gas Emissions
HB 1597 This bill would have directed the Department of Ecology to research the true level of methane leakage for gas production and transportation, and have utilities use that number in resource planning. This is critical, so plan on supporting it again next year.

Property Assessed Clean Energy
HB 1796 and SB 5730 addressed legacy buildings by allowing clean energy improvements to commercial buildings, including multifamily over 4 units, to be paid on property tax bills. This key approach to addressing the carbon impact of the built environment will be back next year.

Clean Fuels
HB 1110  would have lowered the carbon intensity of vehicle fuels. The oil industry had it in for this one and fought it to a standstill. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has their own version, but a state-wide effort will likely be back again next year.

Zero Emission Vehicles
SB 5811 would have adopted California’s emission standards for passenger cars and light trucks.

Accessory Dwelling Units
SB 5812 would have reduced barriers to the creation of more small homes, allowing low-impact density among detached homes.

Don’t Block The Box
HB 1793 would have allowed cities like Seattle to use traffic cameras to increase pedestrian safety and transit mobility by ticketing vehicles blocking crosswalks and bus lanes.

Gas Vehicle Phase-Out
A bill phasing out the licensing of internal combustion engine vehicles was discussed but never introduced. We’re bummed, but not giving up on this one.

Cap and Trade 
A bill proposing a cap and trade system to put a price on carbon emissions was introduced late in the session in order to start a conversation that will be picked up again next year. While there were things to like in the bill, we’re opposed to cap and trade. Here’s why.

Other Useful Information

Sign up for the Civic Action Team and get to know your legislators over the summer!

This incredibly helpful site has an even longer list of climate bills: Climate at the Legislature.