Energy & Environment


From the shores of Puget Sound to the majesty of the Palouse, we live in a magnificent state. Part of our responsibility as Washingtonians is to keep our state’s water and air clean for our families and our families’ families. The governor has pursued numerous policies that are speeding the transition away from fossil fuels and towards a clean energy economy. 

Since he took office in 2013, the governor has: 

  • Powered a new path to Washington's clean energy future by requesting and signing an unprecedented suite of clean energy legislation into law, ushering in aggressive timelines for decarbonizing  Washington’s economy and transforming the state’s energy landscape. 
    • Reducing carbon pollution. Washington’s legislature has set a target to reduce emissions at least 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035, and the Department of Ecology has recommended a more ambitious target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2035.
    • Cleanest energy grid in the nation. Clean electricity is the foundation of Washington’s clean energy economy. Inslee's legislation will put Washington on a pathway to carbon-neutral electricity by 2030 and 100 percent clean electricity by 2045.
    • A top state for electric vehiclesThanks to our state’s clean electric grid, transitioning to EVs means big reductions in carbon pollution. Inslee’s proposal continues to promote electric vehicles and ferries and will ensure electric and zero-emission vehicle options are a more affordable and convenient option for consumers. 
    • Energy efficient buildings and utilitiesRetrofitting old buildings and updating standards for new ones is the fastest and cheapest way to cut carbon emissions. It yields tremendous cost-savings and creates good-paying jobs. Inslee's plan also sets efficiency standards for natural gas to ensure utilities continue to meet conservation requirements. 
    • Reducing super pollutants. Hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, are greenhouse gases that can be thousands of times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide. Climate-safe alternatives are available. The package supports legislation to phase out use of HFCs in Washington state.
  • Protected Southern Resident orcas
    • Inslee signed five crucial orca recovery bills into law that protect the safety and livelihood of the Southern Resident orca. These unprecedented efforts — three of them governor-requested bills — focus on protecting orcas from vessel noise and traffic, improving the safety of oil transportation through the Salish Sea, and increasing fish forage habitat and Chinook salmon for the orca’s food source.
  • Launched the state’s first-ever Clean Energy Fund to support research, and development and deployment in clean energy technologies, smart grid innovation and more. To date, the fund has provided more than $125 million to support transformative projects and create jobs around the state;
  • Passed a historic 16-year, $16 billion transportation package - the largest and greenest in state history - that included authorization for an unprecedented expansion of transit and light rail options in the Seattle metro area;
  • Launched an aggressive initiative to promote electric vehicles (EV) and infrastructure in Washington state, including a new Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Bank - propelling Washington to one of the top three states in the nation for EV purchases, and setting the course to electrify and transition the state’s ferry fleet, which is the largest in the nation, to electric and electric hybrid;
  • Passed a crucial solar incentive bill in 2017 that dramatically increased the installed solar capacity in Washington state by 250 percent;
  • Started a Clean Energy Institute at the University of Washington which is pioneering research into next-generation renewable energy technologies, like solar and battery storage;
  • Transformed state government operations to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, through to reduce emissions by 14 percent since 2005, thanks to building efficiency upgrades, transitioning the state’s fleet to EVs, and transitioning to 100% clean electricity at state government offices;
  • Used executive authority to limit carbon pollution, by issuing a Clean Air Rule to cap carbon emissions from all the largest sources;
  • Helped build momentum for state and local climate action through various partnerships such as the Pacific Coast Collaborative, Under2 Coalition, and co-founding the International Ocean Acidification Alliance and the the bipartisan U.S. Climate Alliance, - a bipartisan coalition working to uphold U.S. climate goals under the Paris agreement.

Current Work

Key Successes

2019
  • Transitioning to clean energy. Inslee’s suite of clean energy legislation ushers in aggressive timelines for decarbonizing Washington’s economy and transforming the state’s energy landscape. He signed legislation to enact 100 percent clean electricity by 2045, a first-of-its-kind standard for clean, energy-efficient buildings, and more energy efficient appliances.
  • Phasing down super-pollutants. Inslee signed legislation to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons, a class of chemicals that can be thousands of times more powerful as atmospheric warming agents than carbon dioxide. These chemicals are among the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the state and the world.
  • Electrifying Washington’s transportation system. Transportation remains the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state so the transition to zero-emission vehicles is crucial. Inslee signed a bill establishing a state incentive program to make new and used electric vehicles more accessible for consumers of varying incomes, helps utilities make large-scale investments in vehicle charging stations, and creates a new grant program to help transit agencies electrify their fleets.
  • Converting state ferries to electric-hybrid. Washington is launching a conversion of its ferry fleet — the largest in the nation — to electric-hybrid. The governor secured $140 million in funding for new and converted electric-hybrid ferries. The legislature authorized the building of one new electric-hybrid ferry and the conversion of two existing ferries to electric-hybrid.
  • Strengthening orca and salmon recovery. Legislators approved several of the governor’s proposals to support the urgent need to restore and protect Southern Resident orcas, Chinook salmon and the ecosystems they rely on. Inslee signed bills to protect orcas from vessel noise and disturbance, improve the safety of oil transportation through the Salish Sea, combat toxics in waterways, and increase food for orcas by protecting forage fish habitat and Chinook salmon. The governor also directed state agencies to ramp up culvert repairs necessary to support fish passage through developed areas.
  • Combating ocean acidification. Inslee signed a budget that doubles the state investment to address ocean acidification. This will: advance our understanding of how ocean acidification impacts salmon, forage fish, and harmful algal blooms; increase scientific monitoring to support management actions; and improve the resiliency of affected shellfish growers, coastal communities and the ecosystem.
2018
  • Protecting Puget Sound. Executive Order 18-02 on Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery and Task Force
  • Clean Energy Fund. The Capital Budget included $46 million for the governor’s Clean Energy Fund. The fund provides competitive grants for an array of clean energy and transportation projects and is a crucial tool for supporting grid modernization, electrification of the transportation system, and the research, development and deployment of clean technology projects.
  • Reducing carbon pollution.
    • Locally: Gov. Inslee directed the state Deptartment of Ecology to develop a regulatory cap on carbon emissions. The Clean Air Rule will help our state continue to reduce pollution and clean our air and water. 
    • Globally: Washington is part of the Pacific Coast Collaborative, a West Coast initiative for climate action and leadership. Gov. Inslee recently joined other West Coast governors, the B.C environment minister, and the mayors of six major West Coast cities to sign the Pacific North America Climate Leadership Agreement at the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM7). The agreement outlines areas of cooperation to slash greenhouse gas emissions and advance a clean energy economy, with a focus on energy systems, buildings, transportation, and waste management. Also during CEM7, the PCC leaders signed the Pacific Coast Climate Leadership Action Plan which has a strong emphasis on ocean acidification; the integration of clean energy into the power grid; support for efforts by the insurance industry and regulatory system to highlight the economic costs of climate change; and so-called “super pollutants” (also known as short-lived climate pollutants).
  • Electric vehicle incentives. Gov. Inslee signed into law HB 2778, which helps make electric vehicles (EV) more affordable to meet the governor’s “Results Washington” goal of 50,000 EVs on the road by 2020. The extension and expansion of this EV sales tax exemption has been a top priority for the governor since his first day in office.
  • Shellfish. Gov. Inslee launched the second phase of the Washington Shellfish Initiative renewing the state’s commitment to supporting clean water commerce, creating family wage jobs, and elevating the role that shellfish play in keeping our marine waters healthy. 
  • Promoting Renewable Natural Gas. Renewable natural gas (RNG) is produced by removing contaminants from the biogas that naturally results from processing organic materials in landfills, wastewater treatment plants, food processing facilities, and farms. RNG can be used on-site to generate heat and electricity, or incorporated into the conventional natural gas supply. Expanding its use can help fight climate change.
    • HB 2580 was signed into law March 22. This law will reinstate and expand tax incentives for RNG production, and develop quality standards for renewable natural gas to generate more opportunities for RNG development.
  • Strengthening oil transportation safety. In March 2018, Gov. Inslee signed SB 6269 into law to update the 2015 Oil Transportation Safety Act so it will meet the growing needs of a robust oil transportation safety program. This bill adds oil shipment by pipeline to the barrel tax so that all three modes of transport now pay for safety measures. In addition, Washington Department of Ecology will update safety contingency plans for transporting oil with an emphasis on sinking oils. Sinking oils call for different prevention, planning and response measures. These improvements ensure we are ready for any oil spill.
    • The law also requires:   
      • Spill management contractors to be certified.
      • Deployment drills be expanded to go beyond tanker vessels and include all regulated vessels and facilities.
      • Establishing the Salish Sea Shared Waters Forum in coordination with Canada and British Columbia to reduce oil spill risk and increase navigational safety and data sharing.
      • Specialized reviews of oil transfer operations that involve sinking oils.
      • A report to the legislature on other potential vessel traffic and safety measures that may be needed in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound region.
    • The State of Washington has led a successful and collaborative effort in preventing, preparing for and responding to oil spills in Washington waters. As the movement of oil through our state continues to change, our safety efforts must change as well. Gov. Inslee will ensure that we stay vigilant in protecting Washington’s precious natural resources.
  • Outdoor recreation. Passed SB 5251 that established a statewide tourism marketing act and revives Washington support for statewide tourism promotion. The law created a tourism marketing authority to manage the financial resources and contracts on behalf of the citizens or Washington. Gov. Inslee appointed nine members to the new Washington Tourism Marketing Authority Board from a diversity of backgrounds and regions throughout the state. They are tasked with overseeing a new fund to promote tourism in Washington state.
2017
  • Reducing carbon pollution. After more than a year of stakeholder discussions, the Governor’s Clean Air Rule went into effect in January 2017. The rule requires major sources of greenhouse gasses to limit and reduce carbon pollution and incentivizes investments to reduce fossil fuel use and accelerate the adoption of clean energy. Washington is the first state to use its Clean Air Act authority to fight climate change and joins California and other states in New England in putting a price on carbon pollution.  
2016
  • National and international leadership on energy. 
    • Washington joined partners in the Pacific Coast Collaborative, a West Coast initiative for climate action and leadership, as well as dozens of states and regions from around the world who signed the Under 2 MOU, a global commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, at the Marrakesh Conference of the Parties, the first global climate conference since the signing of the Paris accords. Representatives of the Governor’s office shared Washington’s commitment to US state climate leadership and to making continued progress to accelerate the clean energy economy.
    • In February 2016, Gov. Inslee co-led a bipartisan coalition of 17 governors from around the country in an interstate agreement to promote clean energy, economic development, and a new American energy future.
  • Reduce carbon pollution.
    • Locally: Gov. Inslee directed the state Deptartment of Ecology to develop a regulatory cap on carbon emissions. The Clean Air Rule will help our state continue to reduce pollution and clean our air and water. 
    • Globally: Washington is part of the Pacific Coast Collaborative, a West Coast initiative for climate action and leadership. Gov. Inslee recently joined other West Coast governors, the B.C environment minister, and the mayors of six major West Coast cities to sign the Pacific North America Climate Leadership Agreement at the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM7). The agreement outlines areas of cooperation to slash greenhouse gas emissions and advance a clean energy economy, with a focus on energy systems, buildings, transportation, and waste management. Also during CEM7, the PCC leaders signed the Pacific Coast Climate Leadership Action Plan which has a strong emphasis on ocean acidification; the integration of clean energy into the power grid; support for efforts by the insurance industry and regulatory system to highlight the economic costs of climate change; and so-called “super pollutants” (also known as short-lived climate pollutants).
  • Electric vehicle incentives. Gov. Inslee signed into law HB 2778, which helps make electric vehicles (EV) more affordable to meet the governor’s “Results Washington” goal of 50,000 EVs on the road by 2020. The extension and expansion of this EV sales tax exemption has been a top priority for the governor since his first day in office.
  • Shellfish. Gov. Inslee launched the second phase of the Washington Shellfish Initiative renewing the state’s commitment to supporting clean water commerce, creating family wage jobs, and elevating the role that shellfish play in keeping our marine waters healthy. 
2015
  • Global leadership. In late 2015, Gov. Inslee attended COP21 in Paris, where he signed on to several agreements in an effort to boost global cooperation on climate action and strengthen Washington’s commitment to be part of global action on climate. There, he announced his new initiative to accelerate adoption of zero emission electric vehicles in public and private fleets, a key step towards meeting the Results Washington goal of putting 50,000 EVs on the road by 2020.
  • Electric vehicles. By signing HB 1853, Gov. Inslee increased accessibility and affordability of EVs. This bill helps utilities build out electric vehicle infrastructure and gets us closer to Gov. Inslee’s Results Washington goal of 50,000 EVs on the road by 2020.
  • Safer oil transportation. When it comes to oil moving along our rail lines, Gov. Inslee’s top priority is keeping our communities safe. HB 1449 will improve safety, spill response and preparedness for oil transportation in our state. 
  • Clean water for shellfish. The governor’s office continues to boost the Clean Samish Initiative’s efforts to tackle pollution and reopen shellfish beds in Samish Bay.
  • Clean energy investments. Gov. Inslee secured over $100 million in capital budget funds to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency development and deployment. 
2014
  • Climate action. 
    • Gov. Inslee’s climate Executive Order outlines next steps to reduce pollution in Washington state. The order focuses on seven key areas:
      • The Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce (CERT) made recommendations for a carbon pollution reduction programto the 2015 legislature
      • Gov. Inslee is working to assist and support the reduction of coal-fired electricity in an effort being led by electric utilities.
      • Creating a multi modal transit system and accelerating our use of clean cars and clean fuels. See report: "A Clean Fuel Standard in Washington"
      • Recommending updates to the state’s greenhouse gas emission limits.
      • Focusing on saving costs and reducing emissions from buildings by improving their efficiency.
      • Developing a new state program to support clean technology innovation in the public and private sectors.
      • Leading efforts to reduce carbon and increase energy efficiency throughout state government.
  • Outdoor recreation economy. Gov. Inslee created a blue ribbon task force to transform Washington’s outdoor recreation industry, tourism, and funding support for recreation areas.
  • Shellfish industry. Through the governor’s Shellfish Initiative, a new shellfish restoration hatchery was opened in May 2014 at the NOAA Fisheries Manchester Research Station in Port Orchard. This sets the stage for larger-scale restoration of native species in the future.
2013
  • Climate action. Gov. Inslee brought together a bipartisan group of lawmakers (the Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup) to develop a plan for the state to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets (SB 5802). Hundreds of Washingtonians made their voices heard during this planning process, urging the state to take action on climate.
  • Resource management. Gov. Inslee’s Yakima Basin jobs, water and fish bill (SB 5367) works with agencies and local partners to manage water in the Yakima River Basin. Droughts and water shortages have harsh impacts on salmon, crops and homes in the region. The bill enhances stream flows for salmon, provides farmers with water, buys land for habitat restoration and public recreation and secures future water supplies. The legislation also created the Teanaway Community Forest Trust to ensure protection and public access to forest lands in the state.
  • Clean energy investments. 
    • The governor’s Clean Energy Fund invests $40 million (2013-15 capital budget) in clean energy technologies that save energy and cut energy costs, reduce harmful pollution and help create jobs.
    • The 2013–15 operating budget invests $6 million in the creation of UW’s Clean Energy Institute. The Institute focuses on next-generation technology for energy storage and solar energy.

Resources