Gov. Jay Inslee met Thursday with former California Gov. Jerry Brown to discuss climate issues, including a proposal for utilities to provide carbon-free electricity by 2045 that is working its way through the Washington Legislature.
Last September, Brown, a Democrat who left office last week as California’s longest-serving governor, signed legislation putting his state on the path toward all clean energy electricity sources by the same date.
Inslee said he invited Brown to Olympia to meet with several Democratic legislative leaders because of the “tremendous progress” on climate legislation in California.
Inslee is among a crowded field of Democrats considering a 2020 presidential bid and looking for a legislative win on his climate agenda. He expressed confidence that climate measures would succeed this year, in part because Democrats increased their margins in both chambers after the November election.
The Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee held a hearing on the measure earlier Thursday. Democratic Sen. Reuven Carlyle, the committee’s chairman, said it likely will come up for a vote from the panel next week.
The bill is the centerpiece of a proposal Inslee announced last month.
Washington, which relies heavily on hydroelectric power, generates 75 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources. The measure would require utilities to eliminate coal as an energy source by the end of 2025 as the first step toward the 2045 goal.
A House committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on a companion bill on Tuesday.
Sen. Tim Sheldon, a Democratic member of the committee who caucuses with Republicans, said that the full costs of the measure aren’t being discussed. “It’s an emphasis on the utilities sector, and that’s going to transfer to the ratepayers,” he said.
Another major effort in the Legislature would implement a clean fuel standard — similar to a program in California — that requires fuel producers and importers to reduce the carbon emissions associated with transportation fuels.
“Humanity is on a collision course with nature,” Brown said. “It’s in all of our collective interest to take the steps now. It will only get harder.”
Inslee included $268 million in his proposed two-year budget to pay for his clean energy initiatives. The efforts include boosting electric vehicle use, promoting more energy-efficient buildings and phasing out hydrofluorocarbon, potent greenhouse gases commonly used for refrigeration.
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate will introduce their budget proposals in the coming months. They have said environmental measures will be among their priorities.