Washington Governor Orders Climate Change Action

Gov. Chris Gregoire on May 21 issued an executive order, directing state actions to reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions, increase transportation and fuel-conservation options for Washingtonians, and protect the state's water supplies and vulnerable coastal areas.

"We can't further delay action on climate change," Gregoire said. "This executive order benefits our economy as much as our environment. It will protect our natural resources, while creating thousands of green-collar jobs and strengthening our state's competitiveness in the global race for a clean energy economy."

Gregoire issued her executive order, "Washington's Leadership on Climate Change," after testifying in front of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency panel in Seattle. The panel hearing was held to gather comments on an EPA proposal to issue a finding that greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health and welfare.

She urged EPA to take action to limit emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases. "We recently learned that climate change will cut the winter snowpack in the Cascades by at least 20 percent," Gregoire said. "This will have a devastating impact not only on recreation, but also on our water supply, our agriculture industry, and our domestic fish populations. This news is another wake-up call, and one more reason that inaction is not an option. We as a nation and a state must address climate change today. Tomorrow is too late."

In her executive order, Gregoire directed state agencies to:

  • Develop emission reduction strategies and industry emissions benchmarks to make sure 2020 reduction targets are met.
  • Work with TransAlta to reduce emissions from the company's coal-fired power plant near Centralia by more than half.
  • Ensure Washington has trees to capture harmful carbon, while creating financial incentives for the forestry industry.
  • Work on low-carbon fuel standards or alternative requirements to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector.
  • Join with neighboring states and the private sector to implement a West Coast highway accessible to electric and alternative-fuel vehicles.
  • Address rising sea levels and the risks to water supplies.
  • Increase transit options, such as buses, light rail, and ride-share programs, and give Washington residents more choices for reducing the effect of transportation emissions.
  • Continue to work with six other Western states and four Canadian provinces in the Western Climate Initiative to develop a regional emissions reduction program design.
  • Work with the Obama administration to help design a national program that is strong and reflects state priorities.

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