Inslee proposes electric vehicle rebates, cleaner buildings in new climate proposals

<p><p>OLYMPIA – A new proposal by Gov. Jay Inslee could give rebates to customers who purchase electric vehicles.</p></p><p><p>The program is part of Inslee’s package of climate policies that he outlined Monday. It would provide up to $7,500 for new battery and fuel-cell electric vehicles. Used cars could get up to $5,000 in rebates, and zero-emission motorcycles and electric bikes could get up to $1,000.</p></p><p><p>Drivers who earn low wages could get an additional $5,000 rebate if they purchase an electric car.</p></p><p><p>The proposal is one of many in Inslee’s climate package, which aims to reduce carbon emissions every year and fight climate change.</p></p><p><p>“Today is a day of great danger in the state of Washington and a day of great opportunity,” Inslee said.</p></p><p><p>The package also includes plans to create buildings using cleaner energy throughout the state, increase tribal consultation for climate policies and form a climate office to support the state’s commitment to fight climate change. It would cost the state about $626.5 million, most of which would come out of the general fund.</p></p><p><p>All of this legislation and proposed budget, which will be released Thursday, will have to pass the Legislature before taking effect. It’s unclear what the fate of the bills will be and what the final budget will look like, but Democratic legislators who presented with Inslee offered support for his plans.</p></p><p><p>Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, said Washington can be “a light among the nation” when it comes to climate policies. Carlyle also introduced his own bill Monday that would give a $200 voucher to people who turn in old, gas-powered lawn equipment. The voucher could be used to purchase new, electric equipment.</p></p><p><p>Along with cleaner-energy transportation, Inslee hopes to make buildings and homes in the state cleaner. His proposals include requiring new construction beginning in 2034 to be “net-zero ready,” meaning each project reduces energy use by 80%. The proposal also provides funding for projects that would help reduce emissions in buildings that house low-income families.</p></p><p><p>He also proposes requiring gas utilities to submit decarbonization plans to the state every four years. The plans would show reduction strategies such as renewable natural gas and electrification.</p></p><p><p>Mike Riker, of the state Building and Construction Trades Council, said the current permitting process can be a barrier to constructing clean buildings and their programs would be ready for any changes to come. He did acknowledge, however, that many of their partners in fossil fuel industries have “serious, legitimate concerns” about some of the decarbonization policies as written.</p></p><p><p>Inslee had success last year in enacting two large climate policies: a cap-and-trade program and a clean-fuel standard.</p></p><p><p>Under the clean-fuel standard, fuel companies must start reducing their emissions a little each year in order to hit a statewide goal of emissions 20% below 2017 levels by 2038. Fuel companies that can’t clean their fuels are required to purchase “credits” to make up for emissions that go above the allowed amount.</p></p><p><p>The cap-and-trade plan puts a cap on carbon pollution and greenhouse gas emissions beginning in 2023. The largest polluters must either meet the cap or purchase allowances from the state.</p></p><p><p>Some of that revenue could go to fund some of the new proposals announced Monday, Carlyle said.</p></p><p><p>Republicans, led by Rep. Mary Dye, of Pomeroy, introduced <a href=”https://houserepublicans.wa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/OrcaPlanReport-FINAL-112421.pdf” target=”_blank”>their own plan</a> last month about how to spend the money from the cap-and-trade program. Their plan would use the money to pay for state parks, eventually eliminating the Discover Pass. It would also go to programs that would fight climate change, such as improving forest health and providing treatment to a polluted Puget Sound.</p></p><p><p>“If we want to get the biggest bang for our buck, we need to help improve the survivability of the state and protect people from floods and droughts,” Dye told The Spokesman-Review.</p></p><p><p>The proposals last year were two huge wins for Inslee, but he said Monday there is still more work to be done.</p></p><p><p>“We have made progress, but we have not made enough progress,” Inslee said.</p></p><p><p>He is proposing creating a new climate office to support the implementation of the previously passed climate policies. It would work with state agencies to help them create their own climate plans.</p></p><p><p>Additionally, Inslee is proposing legislation that would provide a clear consultation process with tribes. Inslee vetoed language last session that would have required tribal consultation before new climate projects start. He said he vetoed it because it differed from the state’s current “government-to-government approach” and doesn’t properly recognize the mutual, sovereign relationship between tribal governments and the state.</p></p><p><p>His new proposed legislation would work to protect sacred sites and engage in mediation between governors and tribal leaders, according to a policy brief.</p></p><p><p>Rep. Debra Lekanoff, D-Bow, said Monday the proposal is the first of its kind in the country.</p></p><p><p>“We can do this together, but it’s going to take all governing bodies,” she said.</p></p><p><p>Although much of the funding for the package comes from the general fund, some funding could eventually come from the federal infrastructure and reconciliation packages. About $14 million of federal funds will be coming to the state through the electric vehicle program. Inslee proposes using it to add electric car charging ports. Inslee proposes using another $7 million of federal funds to support new bikeways and trail networks.</p></p><p><p>If the larger reconciliation plan that is currently being debated in Congress passes in the coming months, Inslee said they will look at how they can incorporate that funding into the plans.</p></p>