Washington climate legislation raises standards
On April 23, the state House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 5126, the Climate Commitment Act. It is the first climate legislation in the country to aim for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
SB 5126 creates a system to cap carbon pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and sets specific limits for individual businesses. The cap would lower over time, and it requires polluters to either decrease emissions or buy allowances for pollution. Violating the caps would incur fines. All money raised would be put towards renewable energy projects, such as clean public transit or wildfire preparedness. It is estimated the program would generate $4 billion in the next 10 years.
This law would make Washington the second state, after California, to have a comprehensive carbon-pricing law.
According to a press release from Washington Conservation Voters and Washington Environmental Council, SB 5126 also requires that air quality be monitored in communities enduring disproportionate environmental and health impacts from pollution and that policymakers involve Native people to find solutions.
“The year 2020 was the warmest year on record, and we also saw the worst wildfires on record. Every year, we see more and more impacts of climate change,” Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-West Seattle) said in the press release.
Another progressive climate law, House Bill 1091, would lower the allowed carbon-fuel emission standards. This bill also passed both legislative houses and is awaiting the governor’s signature.
Both bills will surely be signed by Gov. Jay Inslee, who touted the bills among the successes he saw from the 2021 legislative session, which ended April 25, in a video he released. He said Washington now has one of the strongest environmental justice policies in the nation.
The programs would begin Jan. 1, 2023.
J&J vaccine to resume use in Washington
The Washington State Department of Health said April 24 that it would immediately resume use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine across Washington state after an 11-day pause. The pause was issued out of an abundance of caution after six people developed blood clots in the brain, which is known as thrombosis.
DOH is still unaware of any cases linked to the vaccine and thrombosis in Washington. According to DOH, during the pause about 170,000 doses of the J&J vaccine were being held by providers across the state and it expects Washington to receive 4,300 doses of the vaccine the week of May 2.
As of April 23, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a total of 15 people, including the original six, have developed these specific blood clots. Despite the potential risk, state officials and beyond have stated that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the possible side effects.
Read more of the Apr. 28 - May 4, 2021 issue.