Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Roundtable Forum on Sustainability and Government
December 9, 2003
Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure to join you today.
I want to begin by thanking the Sustainable Washington Advisory Panel. I’ve really been looking forward to this opportunity to give some well-deserved public credit to this group’s efforts. The work of the Panel has been outstanding.
Last year when I convened the Panel, I asked them to create an action plan that will move our state toward sustainability. And a remarkable five months later, the panel submitted their report and plan.
The Advisory Panel has identified a new path forward for our state. Our vision is “to achieve a fully sustainable Washington within one generation.” The “essential strategic outcomes” envisioned by the advisory panel are ambitious—and necessary. Reliance on renewable energy. No waste. Engaged communities. An educated public. The Panel also gave near-term recommendations for priority action.
Much of the work that the Panel members do is completely voluntary. But they are truly dedicated to this endeavor. The Panel did not let the effort end with their report. They proposed that they continue working until March 2004 to continue pushing the sustainability cause forward. I enthusiastically accepted. And we’re seeing several of the recommendations of the Advisory Panel already being implemented.
Funding is now in place for the development of a business plan to create an Innovation Institute. This institute will conduct applied research on sustainability, create and demonstrate the practical application of sustainable technologies and strategies, and educate.
Communication and education efforts on sustainability are now taking place around the state. Recently, Ft. Lewis hosted a conference in sustainability.
Finally—and very significantly—the Panel has requested that in this year’s budget we incorporate a proposal to develop “Sustainability Indicators.” These indicators would measure our progress towards long-term sustainability goals: healthy families, robust ecosystems, engaged public, strong economy and vibrant communities.
Today, I would like to announce that I will indeed include “Sustainability Indicators” as part of my budget proposal.
Further, I would like to ask the Panel to continue working toward implementation of the report recommendations until the end of my term. Let’s stay the course. Let’s propel our state forward in the sustainability effort as far as we can.
For all that you do and continue to do, I thank the Sustainable Washington Advisory Panel.
Our state is committed to sustainability. But more importantly, we are also making progress.
When I convened the Panel, I also issued an Executive Order. The order requires all state agencies to establish sustainability plans. I hired a coordinator to lead the implementation of this order. And I’m pleased to say that more than 50 state agencies have developed plans. We must continue to work across state government to move down the sustainability path.
This fall, we joined California and Oregon in addressing one of the single most important issues facing our states, our nation, and our planet—the threat of global warming.
We agreed to spend our time, staff and resources to identify steps to reduce emissions in maritime and highway travel up and down the Pacific Coast. We agreed to look at options to increase energy efficiency in government by combined purchasing of fuel-efficient vehicles and other products. And we committed to promoting our states as global leaders in the new high-technology clean energy industries.
Here in Washington, we have already begun the battle against global warming. We have improved building codes to reduce residential natural gas consumption by half over the next 15 years. And reduce global warming emissions by 300,000 metric tons a year.
These steps are right in line with the Advisory Panel’s recommendations that we invest in clean energy technology development and set strong greenhouse gas reduction targets.
At my direction, our state’s energy siting council and Department of Ecology are working to establish CO2 mitigation requirements on all new power plants. These standards will be among the toughest, if not the toughest, in the nation.
We’re promoting renewable energy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. We’re exploring opportunities for agencies to increase the fuel efficiency of their automobile fleets in the near term. We’ve also purchased more than 300 hybrid vehicles with low emissions and high fuel efficiency.
We are improving energy efficiency in our schools, universities and colleges, and public buildings. We’re working hard to meet green building standards.
And we’re exploring opportunities to use alternative fuels like biodiesel in vehicles and buildings.
Our efforts extend beyond activity specifically aimed at global warming. We are expanding our Environmentally Preferred Purchasing Program. This program translates into myriad measures to make state government more environmentally friendly.
For example, we’re stocking 100% recycled, chlorine-free paper. We’re recycling all carpet removed from state facilities—it can no longer be thrown into landfills or incinerated. And we’re exploring possibilities for a carpeting remanufacturing facility in our state.
The new Ogden Resource Center building at the Washington School for the Blind shows how we’re trying to lead by example. That building has solar panels on the roof. The panels generate sufficient energy to sell power back to the BPA Green Energy Foundation. The building design also incorporates 100% daylighting without direct sunlight. Last month the facility received a credit on its utility bill!
And the building is designed with an eco-roof system. The system serves as the bio-swale along with a secondary filtration system before water enters a dry well system. The building design is responsible, highly innovative, and an encouraging sign that we’re moving in the right direction.
These are just a few examples of the momentum developing in our state. But we are only getting started. The dialogue must continue, and lead to action.
A sustainable tomorrow is everyone’s responsibility today. Collaboration is the only way we will achieve our sustainability goals. The task is too great and too important to leave any of the vital partners out. Just as the air and water of our state does not respect boundaries, so must solutions cross traditional divisions. Government, communities, businesses and citizens must all work together for success.
This goes beyond pragmatic considerations. We are all truly in this together. We all have a stake in a rich quality of life for ourselves, our children, and future generations. We all have a responsibility to change our behavior and take the positive steps needed.
This responsibility is not a new one. President John F. Kennedy dedicated the National Wildlife Federation Building in 1961 with these words:
It is our task in our time and in our generation to hand down undiminished to those who come after us, as was handed down to us by those who went before, the natural wealth and beauty which is ours.
While this responsibility is not new, it has never been more urgent. We do not have the luxury of unlimited opportunities. The time has come to initiate the enormous changes needed to achieve long-term economic, social and environmental vitality. There will be no second chance. It is up to us. We must change how we live. How we work. How we think. Now, today.
That’s why we’re here. Let’s leave today with a renewed sense of purpose. Let’s steel our determination to continue to join hands in this effort. I appreciate the hard work and visionary leadership of the Advisory Panel. Let’s keep up—and step up—the good work in communities across our state.
Together, we can sustain a healthy Washington that will always be a great place to live, work, and raise a family.