Legislature is delivering on climate protection just in time for Inslee’s presidential bid

Democratic lawmakers are finding success in moving a raft of clean-energy bills through the Washington Legislature. The sweeping bills would make Washington the fourth state to require a phaseout of fossil-fueled electricity, mandate energy overhauls for larger, old buildings, and more. The fate of three lesser bills to protect the climate is less certain.

Legislature, Inslee struggle to fix roads that block salmon, help starve orcas

Puget Sound’s beloved orcas are at risk of extinction and scientists say one key step to rescuing them is boosting oceangoing runs of chinook salmon, the biggest, fattest and most nutritious kind of salmon and the killer whales’ main food source. But legislators seeking to open up more than 1,000 miles of prime inland spawning areas that are currently blocked to the fish by culverts are struggling to find a funding source. What is blocking all those fish? Culverts. These are the pipes and tunnels that pass under roads throughout the state, allowing water to flow downstream. It turns out that many old highway projects in the state were poorly engineered where they intersect with salmon-bearing streams and as a result can block the fish in a variety of ways.

What Washington’s fight over climate-friendly power grid is all about

Washington legislators are moving to reshape the state’s electricity grid in a dramatic way that favors renewable energy over the next three decades, and environmentalists are rejoicing that climate change is finally a top legislative priority. But is reducing Washingtonians’ contributions to global warming achievable without boosting power rates too high at privately owned utilities? Those are the utilities that rely the most on natural gas and other fossil fuels, and they help meet energy needs at about half of Washington households. Private utilities and Republican lawmakers are predicting cost increases or even “brownouts,” and urging a go-slow approach.

Washington may require more climate-friendly motor fuels

The Washington Legislature is considering whether to require use of more climate-friendly motor vehicle fuels. Although Washington collects and processes biodiesel – an alternative fuel made partially of vegetable oil or animal fats that has a distinctly lower carbon impact than traditional diesel – most of this renewable resource is shipped out of state because Oregon, California, and British Columbia have all passed legislation requiring progressive reductions in the amount of fossil fuel allowed in gasoline and diesel.

Orcas, climate, oil spills and more – can Inslee, Dems perform in just 105 days?

A sweeping array of Washington legislative proposals to counter climate change have their best chance to pass into law in 2019 than at any time in recent years. But it won’t be easy for majority Democrats and Gov. Jay Inslee to get all they want in the 105-day session that began last week. InvestigateWest outlines current issues on the docket, including measures to help critically endangered orcas and salmon and green-oriented revisions for housing codes.

Enviros struggled for success in Olympia in 2018

Mixed environmental results marked the whirlwind 60-day session of the 2018 Washington Legislature, which brought a few environmental firsts but also some significant losses on climate change that go beyond their inability to pass a carbon tax.

Will Washington become the first state to tax greenhouse gases?

With just over a week before the Washington Legislature adjourns for the year, the question recurs: Will legislators make Washington the first state in the nation to tax greenhouse-gas emissions to fight climate change? Lurking in the background as state legislators debate a carbon tax is the threat of a citizens’ initiative on the November 2018 ballot to tax carbon emissions. In Olympia, legislation has passed three Senate committees, the latest on Wednesday. That alone is historic, said to be the first time that a carbon fee was approved by any panel of state politicians.