Energy & Environment


Washingtonians care deeply about preserving and protecting our clean water and air for our families and future generations. Washington is among the leading states in the fight against climate change and growing the state’s clean energy economy.

In addition, the Inslee Administration is focused on an equitable transition that ensures overburdened and marginalized communities benefit from the state’s climate investments and programs.

Building Washington’s – and the nation’s – clean energy future

Over the past decade, Gov. Inslee has signed several policies that ensure Washington state is doing its part to reduce emissions while also creating jobs. As of November 2020, Washington’s clean energy industry employs more than 85,000 workers and accounts for more than 25% of all construction jobs in the state.  

Notable Policies

Inslee has also established Washington state as a global leader of subnational governments dedicated to climate action. He co-founded the bipartisan U.S. Climate Alliance and the International Ocean Acidification Alliance, and helped lead the Pacific Coast Collaborative and Under2 Coalition.

Key Successes

2022

Read a complete summary of 2022 climate highlights.

2021

Read a complete summary of 2021 climate highlights.

2020
  • Adopting a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standard, an important step toward accelerating the use of electric vehicles and ensuring Washington consumers have access to a full range of models. This legislation will require automakers to approximately double the number of electric vehicles sold annually in Washington.
  • Strengthening emissions reduction goals by committing Washington state to being carbon neutral by 2050. The legislation also strengthens intermediate goals for 2030 and 2040 to ensure the state is on course.
  • Extending incentives for community solar energy projects that benefit low-income households (HB 2248
2019

 

Read a complete summary of 2019 climate highlights.

  • 100% clean electricity by 2045. Inslee signed the Clean Energy Transformation Act to enact 100 percent clean electricity by 2045.
  • Reducing emissions from buildings. The Clean Buildings Act is a first-of-its kind standard to improve energy efficiency in large buildings. Buildings are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state.
  • 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. 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 five orca recovery 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.