(The Center Square) — Cheerful Gov. Jay Inslee gave an update Wednesday morning on the current state of Washington trade mission to the Nordic countries in favor of green energies in the context of the fight against climate change.
“Quick summary of our trip: extremely productive and broad participation from Washington State,” Inslee said by phone from Norway during a media conference call. “To some extent, more impressively, our access to leadership from these three Nordic countries has been extraordinary.”
The Governor went on to say, “We have had good discussions with a whole host of leaders who have the ability to help strengthen our economy and fight the climate. [change] at a time.”
The trip, which saw Inslee visit Finland and Sweden before coming to Norway to learn more about that country’s transition to a green economy in key industries, is already paying off, according to the governor.
Inslee noted that a number of Washington companies are on the radar of northern businesses and those operating in Evergreen State are accelerating their plans.
Making the case for Washington’s green power credibility, Inslee pointed out that two next-generation battery companies – Group14 Technologies and Sila Nanotechnologies – had announced plans to operate factories in Moses Lake, Wash. Washington, to produce automotive-scale quantities of batteries for electric vehicles.
Group 14 is based in Woodinville, Washington, while Sila is an Alameda, California-based company.
Earlier this year, the Norwegian company Corvus Energy announced the opening of a battery manufacturing plant in Bellingham, Washington, as part of a plan to expand its presence in the United States by meeting the growing demand for hybrid and zero-emission vessels.
After meeting with Nordic business leaders interested in building in Washington, Inslee said he shares their desire to reform the state’s permitting process to help expedite projects in the state.
“But when you talk to them, that transition to clean energy is happening so quickly,” Inslee said. “And when you talk to business owners, their main concern is the speed of clearance, because they want to open in about a year, which is extremely fast.”
Inslee said he wants the state Department of Ecology to have the resources to expedite permitting.
“We share their impatience and eagerness,” the governor said, adding that this is an opportunity for job creation in Washington.
Inslee learned that electric ferries were being rolled out as part of Norway’s transport system.
He said he was delighted to see his first electric ferry in the port of Oslo.
“No smoke and almost no noise,” Inslee said of the electric ferry.
The nearly $17 billion “Move Ahead Washington” transportation package passed by lawmakers and signed into law by Inslee earlier this year includes funds to create a greener ferry fleet, including conversion plans of three Jumbo Mark II ships into electric hybrid ships.
Inslee praised Norway’s move towards green energy.
“It’s both,” Inslee said when asked if Norway’s green campaign was government-led or market-led. “The first was government policy. In the 1990s, the Norwegian government introduced policies aimed at reducing its carbon footprint, and they were quite dramatic. They basically said we’re not going to sell fossil fuel cars after 2025. They gave the message to utilities and manufacturing to go in that direction. So, over a decade ago, the Norwegian government created both incentives and a regulatory structure to help these companies get ahead in Norway.
Last month, Inslee announced that Washington would follow California’s lead and phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.
“This is a critical step in our fight for the climate,” Inslee said in a social media post in late August. “Washington has set a legal goal for all new car sales to be zero emissions by 2030 and we are ready to adopt California regulations by the end of this year.”
In 2020, Washington lawmakers passed a law that Inslee signed into law directing Ecology to adopt California’s emissions standards as they roll out.
Inslee said Washington’s green energy ambitions match those of Norway and that working with Nordic companies will accelerate technological innovations for the benefit of all.
“So I feel really positive about this trip,” he said.
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