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News / Northwest

Gov. Inslee signs slate of climate and environment bills into law

By Conrad Swanson, The Seattle Times
Published: March 28, 2024, 6:11pm

During the last bill-signing tour of his career at the helm of Washington, outgoing Gov. Jay Inslee signed a wide slate of climate and environmental bills into law Thursday afternoon.

The bills include Senate Bill 6058, an attempt to help link Washington’s carbon market with that of California and Quebec. Combining markets would stabilize the cost of greenhouse gas allowances paid by major polluters, in turn lowering pass-through costs for gasoline, Inslee and others have repeatedly said.

While state officials are eying that linkage, voters must decide in November whether to approve an effort to repeal the policy behind the market outright.

Inslee also signed the contentious House Bill 1589 into law, to help Puget Sound Energy (the state’s largest natural gas provider) transition away from fossil fuels and follow the state’s emission requirements.

The bill allows the utility to combine bills from gas and electric customers to pay for new clean energy projects. Critics argue the measure will translate to big rate increases and strand some customers with their existing gas infrastructure. Those in favor of it, however, say the bill will have no immediate impact on rates and should help the utility plan for decarbonization.

Among the other bills Inslee signed are:

  • House Bill 1368, setting school districts on a path to transition nearly 12,000 diesel buses to electric or zero-emission options.
  • House Bill 1924, directing state officials to recommend whether and when nuclear energy would be an “appropriate” addition to Washington’s clean energy policies.
  • Senate Bill 4934, requiring projects that include landscaping to make at least 25 percent of the planted area as “pollinator habitat” using native plants.