BlueGreen Alliance | Washington State Legislative Recap 20-21

Washington State Legislative Recap 20-21

July 13, 2021

Legislators Take Steps To Make Washington A Leader In Clean Manufacturing

A robust manufacturing sector is vital to meeting state, national, and global climate goals. Achieving net-zero emissions economy-wide requires accelerating innovation in advanced manufacturing and ramping up the production of low-carbon materials and sustainable energy technologies. Maintaining and growing local manufacturing is also critical for a fair and resilient economy. Manufacturing jobs are typically stable, living wage jobs that are the foundation for a strong middle class.

With its strong commitment to transitioning off fossil fuels for electricity by 2045 and skilled manufacturing workforce, the BlueGreen Alliance is confident that Washington State can play a major role in driving this clean manufacturing revolution. Our coalition is excited at the progress made toward this goal during the 2021 legislative session.

Here Are The Highlights:

Investing In Buy Clean And Buy Fair.

Washington made critical progress on Buy Clean and Buy Fair by funding the creation of a database to track building materials purchased for state-funded infrastructure projects and two large Buy Clean and Buy Fair pilot projects in the 2021-2023 Operating (ESSB 5092) and Capital (SHB 1080) Budgets. The BlueGreen Alliance worked alongside multiple coalition partners to secure these two essential budget provisos. This is an important step toward leveraging state money to level the playing field for manufacturers that invest in pollution controls and meet high labor standards. These investments will also enable the state to better understand the embodied carbon impact of public buildings.

Studying The Economic And Environmental Benefits Of American Steel.

Legislators also provided funds in the 2021-2023 Operating (ESSB 5092) and Transportation (SSB 5165) Budgets for the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to study the impacts of using American steel for capital projects and state-funded transportation projects. This research will include examining the impacts on Washington’s workers, economy, and embodied greenhouse gas emissions. As with the state’s investments in Buy Clean and Buy Fair, this is an important step for Washington to better understand how it can leverage existing spending to accelerate progress toward its economic and environmental goals.

Building Economic Strength Through Manufacturing.

The Building Economic Strength Through Manufacturing (BEST) Act (SHB 1170), which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, sets a goal of doubling the number of manufacturing jobs, the number of small manufacturing businesses, and the number of women and minority-owned manufacturing businesses in Washington over the course of the next 10 years. The bill also includes several measures to accelerate regional cluster development and workforce development. The BlueGreen Alliance is eager to support the Department of Commerce in pursuing these goals and will be convening our members and partners to grow a shared vision for Washington’s green industrial economy.

Reaffirming Washington’s Commitment To Preventing The Leakage Of Jobs And Pollution.

When Washington updated its climate limits in line with the best available science during the 2020 session (E2SHB 2311), legislators were explicit that the state intended to pursue those limits in a way that maintains our manufacturing base and prevents leakage of pollution to jurisdictions outside Washington. This year’s Climate Commitment Act (E2SSB 5126), which will implement a comprehensive cap-and-trade system, reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to pursue its climate targets in a way that does not drive jobs or pollution out of state. The BlueGreen Alliance looks forward to collaborating with labor unions, environmental groups, manufacturers, and policymakers to support local manufacturers in decarbonizing and to identify strategies to minimize the risk of driving jobs and pollution out of state. That does not mean lowering our standards to match the lowest common denominator. Instead, it means raising the bar and leveling the playing field by holding all manufacturers to the same high standards.