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$75 Million Allocated to Climate Projects in Washington State to Enhance Environmental Justice and Job Training

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The Washington State Department of Commerce, along with the City of Seattle, recently allocated nearly $75 million in funding for community-led clean energy projects and climate-related job training programs. The grants, totaling $72.6 million from Commerce and over $2.2 million from Seattle, are aimed at supporting solar development, hydrogen fueling, electric microgrids, and more. These initiatives are designed to equip individuals from marginalized communities with the tools needed to combat the effects of climate change. These efforts are part of Washington’s commitment to addressing climate change, with Seattle setting goals to reach zero emissions by 2050 and decarbonize all city-owned buildings by 2035.

In May, Commerce awarded Seattle $3.2 million to support appliance upgrades for small businesses, further demonstrating the city’s dedication to sustainability. Seattle awarded funds to six programs within five organizations, including Emerald Cities Collaborative, Pacific Northwest Ironworkers Local 86, Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Employment for Women, YouthCare’s YouthBuild, and Seattle Central College’s Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Training. These investments will provide training for at least 260 Priority Hire employees, supporting workers from economically disadvantaged communities looking to enter the construction and clean energy sectors.

Funding for these grants came from Seattle’s controversial payroll expense tax, which has faced opposition from the business community but supports affordable housing and programs for lower-income residents. Commerce disbursed 71 grants across 24 counties for clean energy installations, all with an environmental justice component. The funding for these awards is sourced from Washington’s Climate Commitment Act, a measure championed by Gov. Jay Inslee that caps carbon emissions and requires businesses to pay for polluting. Initiative 2117, on the November ballot, would eliminate the act and the climate funding it generates.

Some of the recipients of the Commerce grants include the Toppenish School District in Yakima, the Port Angeles Food Bank, the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation in King County, and the City of Walla Walla. These organizations received funds for renewable energy projects, sustainable power upgrades, and decarbonization efforts. The grants aim to empower communities to take immediate action in fighting climate change. With these investments, Washington is fostering sustainability, creating job opportunities, and supporting the transition to a clean energy future.

The grants provided by Washington State Department of Commerce and the City of Seattle for community-led clean energy projects and climate-related job training programs signal a significant commitment to environmental sustainability. These investments will not only support the development of clean energy infrastructure but also provide training opportunities for individuals from marginalized communities. By empowering these communities with the tools and resources needed to combat climate change effects, Washington and Seattle are taking important steps towards achieving their ambitious emission reduction goals.

With initiatives like the Climate Commitment Act and the awarded grants, the state and city governments are working towards a more sustainable future. By supporting clean energy installations and job training programs, they are addressing the impacts of climate change while also creating economic opportunities for disadvantaged individuals. These efforts demonstrate a dedication to environmental justice and community empowerment, showing that Washington and Seattle are at the forefront of the fight against climate change.

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