There is not one piece of legislation I am more excited about than the Washington STRONG green/recovery bonds. This excellent proposal gives our state access to $16 billion for jobs and climate mitigation projects. These are certified green, special tax obligation bonds (a type of revenue bond). Unlike cap and trade, the “green” certification ensures this revenue can’t become part of the state General Fund or be spent on carbon offsets out of state, money comes quickly and projects can get underway years earlier. This money stays in our state!
Examples of qualifying investment types include:
Energy efficiency and HVAC upgrades to public schools, hospitals and government buildings; Forest health projects reducing the risk and intensity of carbon-releasing fires; Clean transportation projects like fleet electrification, transit expansion, rail expansion, local commuter paths and trails reducing the need to drive (I’d love to see Solutionary Rail included here!); Broadband access enabling communities to remotely access education, employment, services and reducing the need to drive;
Local climate mitigation/adaption projects as part of the GMA planning and facilities upgrades – what our Chelan County has been working on!
From Bloomberg and Goldman Sachs reports, there’s an all-time high demand for green bonds which continues to outpace issuance, and this translates to record-low costs.
Ten years of bond issuances, each on a 20-year repayment timeline. All debt repaid and net zero emissions by 2050. Putting a price on carbon pollution ($25/ton) generates the bondable revenue needed. 15% of the revenue is dedicated to help low-middle income households offset costs passed on.
Agricultural and timber fuels are exempt with legislation offering new incentives and pathways to reduce GHG emissions.
Aviation fuel is exempt due to legal concerns. (A clean fuel standard could encourage aviation to identify and adopt renewable fuels for air travel.)
Representatives Lekanoff, Shewmake and Senator Lovelett are working closely with fellow lawmakers, state agencies, NGOs, tribal and local governments, scientists, policy experts, economists, financial institutions landowners and community groups to ensure this bill moves all of Washington forward. “With Washington STRONG, the economic recovery can start in rural areas and frontline communities with family-wage jobs, using science and evidence to make investments that get people back to work, and provide market-based incentives to transition to a greener economy. This is a model for states to invest in both infrastructure for the clean energy transition as well as create lasting economic growth for everyone.”- Rep. Shewmake.
For every $1million invested in low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure, we generate nearly $2 million in additional local spending, create 10 family-wage jobs, and save an average of $6 million in avoidable future costs. This is an 8:1 benefit-cost ratio without including all of the additional benefits of carbon reduction.
Want to learn more? Here are a few links to get started: