Inslee: State agency vehicles must be all-electric by 2035

Gov. Jay Inslee has signed an executive order aimed at transitioning state government to an all-electric fleet of vehicles by 2035.

It requires executive branch agencies to buy battery-powered electric vehicles to replace passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks with internal combustion engines as their useful lives come to an end. The order requires at least 40% of the fleet to be electric by 2025, 75% by 2030 and 100% by 2035.

For medium and heavy-duty vehicles and trucks, Inslee wants to see 30% of those be electric by 2030 and 100% by 2040. Agencies must acquire “the lowest-emission, cost-effective option,” such as plug-in hybrid electric, when a battery-powered model is not available.

The order, signed Nov. 3, applies to 24 agencies under Inslee’s control in the executive branch, including the Washington State Patrol and the departments of Transportation, Corrections, and Social and Health Services. Overall, roughly 5,000 state vehicles are covered, the vast majority of which now run on gasoline or diesel. Each of the affected agencies is required to prepare a plan with costs and a timetable for complying with the targets.

Inslee announced the order in Glasgow, Scotland, where he participated in the Conference of Parties, an international summit focused on finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to the worsening impacts of climate change.

“Together with the rest of the leaders here and those everywhere else today who are committed to this fight, we will lead the charge on de-carbonizing the transportation sector,” Inslee said in a statement.

Washington’s three-term governor is heading a coalition of leaders from 68 cities, states and foreign municipalities, known as subnational governments, which are working to cut emissions in half by 2030 and get to net zero by 2050.

Inslee told reporters this group should be called the “super nationals” because they are taking steps, such as his executive order, that set the bar for action by national governments.

Moving to an all-electric fleet won’t be cheap, he said. But in the long run it will save money and protect the environment. An Inslee spokeswoman said they will work with the Legislature to secure funding for additional electric vehicle charging stations to support an electric fleet. Also, federal funding will be sought.

Inslee also voiced support for requiring all new cars sold in the state beginning in 2035 to be zero-emission vehicles. And he endorsed ensuring new building construction generates no net increase in emissions by 2030.