Washington State Poised to Become Global Climate Leader with Passage of 100 Percent Clean Electricity Bill; Clean Fuels Should Follow

Statement by Mark Specht, Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Apr 22, 2019

OAKLAND, Calif. (April 22, 2019)—The Washington state legislature passed SB 5116 today, which calls for 100 percent of the state’s electricity to be generated from carbon-free sources by 2045. The bill also requires state utilities to phase out coal power by 2025.

Electricity generated from coal and natural gas accounts for a fifth of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions. In 2008, the state committed to reducing greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020, though the most recent measures of emissions have trended upwards.

The state follows Hawaii, California, New Mexico and Puerto Rico in setting 100 percent clean electricity goals. Washington already supplies about three-fourths of its electricity from hydropower and renewable sources.

Below is a statement by Mark Specht, energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists and an expert on Western state energy policy.

“Washingtonians should be proud of their state’s climate leadership. As climate impacts increasingly affect the state’s forests, fisheries, coastlines and air quality, there is no time to waste to enact widescale, impactful change that will reduce carbon emissions. This bill will transform the state’s power grid and set a global example.

“The switch to 100 percent clean energy will happen by increasing renewable power sources and energy efficiency. State leaders wisely took the extra step of ensuring the bill included provisions to support low-income households via energy assistance programs.

“Next, Washington legislators should double down and pass a clean fuel program. Transportation is the number one source of carbon emissions in the state. A clean fuel program would target fuels directly and be a major step forward in cutting oil use and emissions from transportation. There is no time to lose in fighting climate change.”