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New Tool Calculates Climate and Human Health Benefits

(SEATTLE, WA) February 8, 2022– Standing in front of a new all-electric forty-five foot motorcoach and only the 2nd Kenworth all-electric class 8 tractor truck off the Renton manufacturing line, Clean & Prosperous Washington (CaPWA) released its first in-depth look at seven projects to decarbonize our state’s transportation systems. Citing that transportation emissions are responsible for over 45 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions and 22 percent of the toxic air pollution that is unfairly impacting marginalized communities, the report, Washington’s Decisive Decade, An Emerging Roadmap for Transportation Decarbonization and Cleaner Air, calculates the climate and public health benefits of moving forward with these projects.

“Washington State needs to clean-up its transportation system so our overburdened communities, where life expectancy is lower than statewide averages, stop having to take the brunt of this toxic pollution,” said Washington’s Build Back Black leader Paula Sardinas, a member of the task force advising on the report. “Now we have a tool that can provide a way forward to get this done equitably.”

When the Washington State Legislature passed the Climate Commitment Act (CCA) in 2021, it directed up to $5.2 billion to be spent on transportation decarbonization projects and programs through 2038 to address these issues. As lawmakers are currently evaluating how to direct that funding to maximize carbon reduction and improvements in air quality, the group is encouraging a close look at these transportation interventions.

“In order to meet our climate protection goals,” said Michael Mann, Executive Director of Clean & Prosperous Washington, “we need to invest the revenues from carbon pollution into carbon reduction solutions.”

“This body of work by Clean & Prosperous Washington provides a framework for Legislative leaders to invest in transportation projects and programs that help Washington reach our carbon reduction targets while improving air quality for overburdened communities,” said Representative Jake Fey, a longtime proponent of ensuring a cleaner, more sustainable transportation system for our state. “It is a significant contribution which will assist policymakers in directing money from the Climate Commitment Act effectively and efficiently to decarbonize our transportation system.”

The new tool, developed by CaPWA, provides a method that policy makers can use to calculate greenhouse gas reductions, economic feasibility, and public health benefits of pollution reduction of projects. The groundbreaking research in the form of seven initial case studies, identifies interventions that could reasonably scale to $5 billion of investments while reducing 16 million tons of carbon in the state and providing $1.1 billion of public health and climate benefits.

To dramatically cut the largest source of damaging emissions in Washington state, the report details how electrifying the four Central Puget Sound ferries would be the greenhouse gas equivalent of taking 26,000 new Ford F-150 turbo-diesel trucks off the road. Since diesel engines for ferry boats are among the more pollution-intensive sources of toxic pollutants, a gallon of diesel reduced by a ferry is expected to lead to many times greater health benefits than a comparable gallon eliminated from an on-road vehicle. Consequently, eliminating this marine diesel pollution is estimated to result in over $500 million in public health benefits to Seattle communities like the Duwamish Valley and South Park.  Since the state will save millions in fuel and maintenance, an investment in ferry electrification will pay for itself in just 25 years.

The report, Washington’s Decisive Decade, An Emerging Roadmap for Transportation Decarbonization and Cleaner Air, examines seven specific decarbonization approaches through a series of case studies which span off-road, on-road, freight, and marine transportation activities. Other case studies include passenger and heavy-duty vehicle electrification, decarbonizing port activities like drayage trucks, cargo handling equipment and emissions from ships harbored at ports, as well as examining the charging infrastructure necessary for transition.

Another example of meeting both climate and pollution goals in the report is the plan to electrify the power needs of vessels at the ports of Tacoma and Seattle.  When the more than 1,500 vessels dock at port, they keep their engines running, releasing toxic air pollutants which negatively impact public health in local surrounding communities. Switching to electric shore power will result in cumulative public health benefits of $28 million over 30 years, while eliminating over 190,000 metric tons of carbon pollution. The cumulative climate and public health benefits are three times the net cost of the project, making this an appealing investment for public resources.

“Consistent with the NW Ports Clean Air Strategy,” Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman said, “This report demonstrates why investing in shore power for ocean-going vessels, electrifying cargo handling equipment and drayage trucks is good for communities, commerce, and the climate.”

The report noted that not all decarbonization strategies pencil out in today’s market.  For the motorcoach industry, the report calculates that incentives would likely need to be in the range of $50,000 to over $200,000 to tip the scales to electric vehicles throughout the 2020s.  California uses money from its Cap and Trade program to offer $120,000 to fleet operators to switch to electric.

“This model clearly demonstrates the need for public sector incentives to reduce emissions from the transportation system,” noted Gladys Gillis, owner of Starline Luxury Coaches.  “We are on board with the need to reduce our emissions, but we will need the state to be a partner to achieve our collective carbon reduction goals.”

The report also identifies the economic challenges in reaching the State Energy Plan’s goal of one million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.  The cost premiums for electric passenger vehicles, pickup trucks and SUVs are still a barrier to rapid conversion to zero emissions vehicles.  The report calculates a $4,200 to $12,400 gap in ownership costs over the first three years, lending support for a state purchase incentive program like Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has proposed this Legislative session.  These costs are expected to come down over time, spurred in part by more rapid uptake of new electric vehicles.

Building out the infrastructure for these new light duty electric vehicles is also estimated in the report, ranging from $500 million to $1.8 billion in total costs by 2030.  “Ubiquitous public fast charging locations will be needed to reach Washington’s electric vehicle goals”, noted Gustavo Occhiuzzo, another task force member and CEO, EV Charging Solutions. “California has just directed $1.4 billion over the next three years into EV infrastructure to keep ahead of its market transformation. Washington should follow that lead.”

Clean & Prosperous Washington acknowledges and thanks its partners in this report, including Forth, Low-Carbon Prosperity Institute, California Air Resources Board, EVCS, Vigor, Starline Luxury Coaches, Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE), Nissan of North America, Northwest Seaport Alliance, REG and Blueline Design.

Find additional information on the research, tool and recommendations here as well as more information on Clean & Prosperous WashingtonMedia, please contact Lee Keller for interviews at 206.799.3805 or

About Clean & Prosperous Washington
Clean & Prosperous Washington is a team of business leaders working with labor, tribes, environmental organizations, and social justice advocates to enact and implement smart climate policies in Washington state. We inform approaches to drive down greenhouse gas emissions, improve health and job outcomes, propel a stronger, more globally-competitive economy, and serve as a beacon of best-in-the-nation climate action for other states to emulate. More information can be found at

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