Environment & Energy

With one of the richest, most diverse and beautiful landscapes in the world, we have an important legacy to protect. The health of our environment must be protected as it is essential to our quality of life and to the strength of our economy.

Lead development of a clean energy economy

  • Adopt comprehensive limits on global warming pollution. The state must reduce emission levels to what they were in 1990, and then reduce them by another 25 percent by 2035. Learn more about Washington’s climate change challenge.

  • Move toward energy independence. Washingtonians spent more than $9 billion on imported fuel last year. Governor Gregoire has set a goal to reduce the amount that Washington drivers spend on imported fuel by 20 percent by 2020. It also requires the Dept. of Transportation to develop strategies to help people who want an alternative to driving in this time of high gas prices have the freedom to reduce their car travel.

  • Joined six other states and four Canadian Premiers to approve the final design for a regional market-based climate program that reduces global warming pollution to promote a thriving economy and protect public health. The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) is the most comprehensive greenhouse gas cap and trade program designed to date. When it is fully implemented in 2015, it will cover nearly 90% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the WCI Partner jurisdictions.

Find and use alternate energy options

  • Reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Washington now ranks among the top five states for producing wind power and the top three for manufacturing the equipment to generate solar energy.

  • Use public-private partnerships to encourage clean energy innovation. Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland are working together to create a new center for bioenergy and bio-products in the Tri-Cities area. Meanwhile, the University of Washington boasts several programs that are examining the impact of climate change.

  • Purchase hybrid and other energy-efficient vehicles as part of the Washington Climate Change Challenge. Washington state agencies have one of the largest fleets of hybrid vehicles in the nation. It’s creating change and saving money. In one year, the state saved nearly 100,000 gallons of gasoline as a result and is setting an impressive example.

Clean up Puget Sound

  • Brought together environmentalists, local government, sportsmen and -women, and tribal and business leaders to restore and preserve the health of Puget Sound. The Puget Sound Partnership is actively implementing its Action Agenda to protect and restore the Sound by 2020.

  • The Puget Sound Partnership, in conjunction with Ecology, the state Conservation Commission, the state Recreation and Conservation Office and other partners, initiated significant steps toward a cleaner Puget Sound. These steps include watershed assessments that promote environmentally-friendly growth, reopened shellfish beds to encourage economic and recreational activities after pollution clean-up, and did river and floodplain restoration to protect the environment and encourage salmon to return to abandoned waterways.

Reduce toxic threats

  • Signed into law legislation requiring recycling of mercury-containing lights, protecting people and the environment from exposure to this persistent, accumulative toxin as a result of improper disposal of fluorescent lights.

  • Limits the use of toxic substances in brake friction material, with a focus on reducing copper in brake pads, a key source of toxics in urban stormwater.

  • Banned use of Bisphenol A in containers intended for use by children under three. This ban protects children from the effects of Bisphenol A, used in plastics manufacturing, which has been connected to reproductive and developmental issues, particularly in newborns and infants.

Use Washington resources wisely

  • Ended the 25-year stalemate over Columbia River water management, taking significant steps toward adopting water storage management programs while improving the river’s ecosystem. One-third of all newly stored water will be allocated to support stream flows for fish. Two-thirds of newly stored water will be available for new out-of-stream uses such as farming, industry and municipal growth.

  • Announced major water projects intended to shore up water supplies in Eastern Washington. The state committed $15 million to develop a major pump exchange project. The project will divert more water from the Columbia River to Red Mountain, a highly productive grape-growing area, and leave more water in the lower Yakima River for fish populations. The state also invested $1 million to research ways to store millions of gallons of Columbia River water in underground aquifers during the winter months, which would be reallocated when communities and fish need it most.

  • Signed legislation to release the largest delivery of new water to towns and farms in the Columbia Basin, as well as for endangered salmon, in three decades. The law, signed during the 2008 legislative session, provides drought relief to over 350 irrigators, new water for as many as 185 cities and industrial users, a more reliable irrigation source for 10,000 acres of farmland in the Odessa region, and increased stream flows for salmon and steelhead in the mainstream of the Columbia River.

  • Implement the Forest and Fish project, a key element in the Washington’s salmon recovery strategy. It provides better protection of water quality and fish habitat along 60,000 miles of streams and across 9.3 million acres of state and private forest lands. The Forest and Fish project also incorporates a rigorous, science-based adaptive management process.

Holding the federal government to its promises

  • Cleanup Hanford to preserve the health of the Columbia River. Governor Gregoire’s efforts to clean up Hanford began almost 20 years ago when, as director of the Washington State Department of Ecology, she successfully negotiated the Tri-Party Agreement, a legally binding contract that ensures federal commitment to the Hanford cleanup project.

  • Pursue consistent federal funding as mandated by the Tri-Party Agreement. She works with our congressional delegation to keep the necessary and promised funding in the federal budget. Cleanup must proceed before irreversible environmental damage is done and to protect the economic livelihoods and health of citizens in the region. In March 2009, Hanford received nearly $2.0 billion in federal Recovery Act funding to accelerate clean-up activities.