2023 Legislative Victories: Environment & the Climate Crisis

Dear friends and neighbors,

Jinkins_PCTThis fall we’re wrapping up from another record-breaking hot summer and looking at the rest of what’s on track to be the hottest year in recorded history. If that sounds familiar, it should. The last eight years are also the hottest eight years on record.

We’ve seen what that means in Washington state: a longer wildfire season, more floods and more drought, and more dangerously hot days. Climate change is real, and it’s at our door. As some of you know, I’ve spent my summers over the last few years hiking the Washington portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.  After finishing Washington’s 505 miles this year, I can tell you that there’s no year I’ve hiked on the PCT that I haven’t either been through a big burn or forced off the trail because of one.  This picture is from August 2023 as I hiked between Goat Rocks and White Pass.  I saw way too much like this.

Over the past few years, we’ve enacted landmark policies to reduce our emissions, clean up our water and air, and transition Washington to clean energy. I wanted to share some of our accomplishments from last session, and while I’m proud of this work I know there’s more to do.



Moving towards a clean energy future means we’ll have to build more energy production facilities, things like wind, solar, green hydrogen, and more. This year we passed legislation to help streamline the permitting process, which will help get these clean energy facilities up and running faster.

We’re also requiring cities and counties to consider the impacts of climate change in their planning, from infrastructure to development and more. This investment and attention will help create more livable and sustainable communities, and will protect us from additional costs or losses later on.

As we transition away from fossil fuels our demand for electricity will increase, that’s why we’re requiring electric utilities to plan ahead to ensure we’ll have consistent, reliable electricity for years to come.

Rainier_27thLDI mentioned record-breaking heat earlier, and unfortunately, we’ve seen just how deadly that can be. This year we passed legislation to help vulnerable communities by stopping utility shutoffs during extreme heat events. These protections already existed during extreme winter weather conditions, and we know they’ve helped save lives.

We also know that fighting climate change will need serious investments. Thanks to the Climate Commitment Act we’ve been able to put more money towards the transition to clean energy, protecting our natural resources, and increasing our resiliency.

This year’s operating budget included $45 million for forest health and wildfire protection, $36 million for salmon production, habitat, and recovery, $25 million for protecting our biodiversity, and $14 million to manage invasive species.

Our capital construction budget also made significant investments. We’re cleaning up our water and planning for floods with $798 million for water quality and $156 million for water supply, $177.8 million for flood risk reduction and habitat restoration, and $184.3 million for toxic cleanups and prevention. We’re also spending $56.6 million to improve air quality across Washington state.

Thanks to the money from the Climate Commitment Act we’re able to invest $177 million in active transportation, making it safer and easier to walk and bike in Washington. We’re also investing $406 million in transit programs and projects. We’re transitioning our ferries to electricity, building better infrastructure for our rail, freight, and ports, and much more.