Editor’s Note: This news release was published by the Environmental Priorities Coalition (EPC), of which Audubon Washington is a member. The EPC is made up of more than 20 statewide organizations working to safeguard our environment and the health of our communities. For the 2019 legislative session, the EPC has adopted four priorities essential for healthy communities and a thriving environment, including support for 100% clean electricity.
What Washington would see from this landmark legislation:
Our entire electric grid powered by 100 percent clean energy by 2045;
Phase-out coal from our electricity grid by 2025, accelerating the closure of increasingly expensive coal plants in Montana and Wyoming that are among the largest sources of climate pollution in the American West;
Swift progress towards cutting carbon pollution, starting in 2030 with strong short-term targets, that will work to prevent unnecessary and costly near-term build out of new fracked gas infrastructure in our electric grid;
Investment in low-income communities to address and correct historic energy inequities and inclusion of equity analysis in the planning and acquisition of clean energy;
Investment in Washington workers as part of the transition to clean energy, including prioritizing projects with livable wages, job training, and inclusion of minorities, women, veterans, and local businesses and workers.
The passage out of the House positions Washington to become a national leader in transitioning its electricity grid to clean and renewable energy in a way that addresses historic inequities and incentivizes strong worker protections. The bill attracted the support of an unprecedented coalition of labor unions, environmental justice groups, businesses, medical professionals, faith leaders, and environmental groups.
Coalition Quotes in Support of SB 5116
“This legislation isn’t an endpoint; it’s a beginning,” said Gail Gatton, Executive Director of Audubon Washington. “SB 5116 lays the groundwork so we can create the clean energy economy needed to protect the special places Washington state’s birds and people need to thrive now and into the future.”
“This bill not only puts a deadline on dirty sources of electricity, it builds a foundation for frontline communities to be a part of the transition to clean electricity — one that all households can afford,” said Deric Gruen, Program Director at Front and Centered.
“100 percent clean electricity means we cut carbon pollution while creating real family wage jobs and more value for the clean energy we do have. This sets us on a path to transition our electrical industry off of fossil fuels in the right way,” stated Matthew Hepner, Executive Director of the Certified Electrical Workers of Washington.
“A completely clean and efficient grid will power us forward to building a 21st Century clean energy economy with good, family-wage union jobs, a healthy climate and thriving communities,” stated Larry Brown, President of the Washington State Labor Council.
“Moving to 100 percent clean electricity is a bold step to mitigate the worst effects of the climate crisis and move away from dirty fossil fuels, which physicians know will benefit health,” said Dr. Mark Vossler, cardiologist and President of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility.
“Transitioning to 100% clean energy in Washington is essential to protect public health from air pollution and the burning of fossil fuels. It is our job to protect our patients from the health impacts of climate change,” said Gary Cohen, President and Co-Founder of Health Care Without Harm.
“This puts us one step closer to being able to go anywhere in Washington and know with a flick of a switch we’re powering a healthy climate, more wind and solar energy, cleaner air, and more local jobs for our families,” stated Vlad Gutman-Britten, Climate Solutions Washington State Director.
“An equitable and renewable electricity grid reflects religious values of stewardship and justice,” said LeeAnne Beres, Executive Director of Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light. “People of faith applaud the Legislature for affirming these values by committing to a 100% clean energy future.”
“Washington’s future will be a lot brighter with the passage of the 100% Clean Electricity bill. It’s further proof that a society powered by renewable energy is possible and puts us one step closer to a cleaner and healthier Evergreen State,” said Bruce Speight, Executive Director, Environment Washington.
“SB 5116’s passage makes Washington a clean energy leader. Using a toolkit of renewable energy, demand-side solutions, and market approaches, we’ll have an orderly and affordable transition, especially for low-income and impacted communities,” said Wendy Gerlitz, Policy Director, NW Energy Coalition.
“SB 5116 encourages investment in renewable energy projects in Washington, bringing economic benefits and jobs into local communities while allowing the clean energy transition to take place affordably and reliably for Washington electric customers.” Amanda Jahshan, Renewable Northwest.
“We know how to stop climate change: get fossil fuels out of our electricity grid and build our communities around clean transportation,” said Jesse Piedfort, Washington State Sierra Club Chapter Director. “Washington is once again leading the nation in the building a clean energy future.”
“Washingtonians should be proud of their state’s climate leadership. SB5116 will transform the state, setting a global example. State leaders wisely took the extra step of ensuring the bill included provisions to support low-income households via energy assistance programs,” said Mark Specht, energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“We are thrilled by the strong legislative leadership on climate to move us to 100% clean electricity. Washington is one step closer to building a clean economy for everyone and setting the tone for states across the country,” said Rebecca Ponzio, Climate and Fossil Fuel Program Director, Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters.
For more information:
Government Relations Director, Audubon Washington