Global climate summit, big infrastructure investments, Camp Hope, suicide prevention lifeline

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COP27: State and local governments can go further, faster to counteract climate change

Gov. Jay Inslee attended the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Egypt from Nov. 14 through Nov. 16.

Gov. Jay Inslee attended the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Egypt from Nov. 14 through Nov. 16 to meet with leaders from around the world to discuss policy defenses against climate change and ocean acidification.

Earlier this week in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, Gov. Jay Inslee attended the 27th United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP27). Other U.S. governors who attended included Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

During his three days at COP27, Inslee met with dozens of national and subnational leaders who all share a common goal of combatting climate change and meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. One of Inslee’s key messages was emphasizing the important role state, provincial and local governments play in implementing policies while national governments stall.

The recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act was a frequent topic of discussion. The law offers the most significant step towards meeting U.S. emission reduction goals and empowers state and local governments already implementing major climate policies.

“My state is moving faster and further than any other state to eliminate the need for fossil fuels,” said Inslee. “We are accepting our moral responsibility to eliminate the need and demand for oil and gas down to zero over the next several decades. That is a commitment we have made, and a necessary one.”

On his first full day at COP27, the governor announced Washington state’s membership in the Transportation Decarbonization Alliance. Transportation is Washington state’s top source of emissions. Policies to transition to zero emission vehicles are a centerpiece of the state’s decarbonization strategy, which also includes promoting active transportation options such as cycling or walking, and more effective zoning that allows people to reduce the miles they must drive to work, school, or errands.

On his final day in Egypt, Inslee announced Washington’s membership to the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance. BOGA is an international alliance of governments and stakeholders working together to facilitate the managed phase-out of oil and gas production. At the announcement event, Inslee talked about how Washington’s clean transportation, clean building codes, and cap-and-invest programs will help drive down demand for gas and oil so it can stay in the ground.

See more of Inslee’s COP27 activities on Flickr.

One year later, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments begin to pay off in Washington state

President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law one year ago,

President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law one year ago, a “once-in-a-generation investment” into national infrastructure. Image courtesy of The White House.

President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law one year ago, the single largest investment in public transit, passenger rail, clean water, affordable internet, or electrical grid resiliency in national history. It's also the single largest investment in the national highway system since the Eisenhower administration. The legislation was signed one year ago, and now $3.7 billion in federal funds are on the way to Washington state to expand and rebuild critical infrastructure.

More than 1 million Washington households may benefit from the legislation’s affordable internet program. A new $161 million fund is already helping Washington communities remove lead pipes and replace service lines. The state network of electric vehicle charging stations got a boost with $70 million will be invested over the next five years to increase their numbers.

Washington state has 416 bridges and 5,469 miles of roadway in poor condition. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will provide $5.3 billion in guaranteed formula money over the next five years to address aging infrastructure. The state has already received $2.2 billion in formula and discretionary grant awards from the legislation, and is putting that to work.

Major projects supported by the legislation include:

  • Repairs to the Grays Harbor north jetty, a critical navigation channel
  • Terminal replacement at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport
  • Post-wildfire habitat revitalization and sagebrush conservation in Douglas County
  • Replacement of an obsolete ferry with a hybrid-electric model to serve the Lummi Island community
  • Repairs to the Salmon Bay Bridge to extend its lifespan by 50 years

WSDOT aims to close Camp Hope, secure safe shelter for residents before winter

With winter on the way that could impact the 467 unsheltered residents of Camp Hope near Spokane, state agencies are arranging necessities for the camp's residents: warmth, water, and shelter. The encampment will close, but only once each resident has been safely sheltered and offered assistance to break the cycle of homelessness.

This initiative is led by three state agencies – the state departments of Commerce and Transportation and the Washington State Patrol. It's a result of Gov. Jay Inslee's request to the Legislature earlier this year to address increasing safety issues along state highways. State agencies work in partnership with numerous local governments and non-profit partners. Statewide, more than 150 people have been helped by the program to date. State agencies are repeating these successes in other parts of the state, including Camp Hope.

WSDOT has put up fencing and provides 24/7 security at the site. WSDOT also recently imported gravel to address slip hazards and potable water to ensure public health and safety. Each resident has agreed to rules and signed a good neighbor agreement. The departments of Licensing, Health and Social and Health Services have arranged for hundreds of residents to procure identification, birth certificates and food assistance. Interim safety of the site has improved dramatically, and the long-term prospects for each resident will have improved thanks to a deliberate housing-first approach. Service providers are working with each resident to transition them into safe, secure housing, but housing availability remain a challenge.

“Homelessness and housing affordability are hurting communities all across the country. The scale of this challenge is daunting, but we are learning that the new approaches we’re taking can and will work,” said. Gov Jay Inslee as he recently previewed homelessness legislative priorities. “There is no simple answer for fixing homelessness fast. In the short term, we need more housing options and shelters that provide more services so people get back on their feet. Over the long term, we need more housing that average workers can afford. Both of those solutions require every community to do their part.”

Pictures show a dangerous roadside encampment from which people were transitioned into supportive shelter.

Pictures show the intersection of Dearborn St. and I-5 before and after WSDOT, Commerce, and WSP transitioned 64 residents away from the unsafe encampment and into shelter with supportive services. The work was part of the Right of Way Safety Initiative.