FILE - climate change green energy

(The Center Square) – A cheerful Gov. Jay Inslee gave a Wednesday morning update on Washington state’s ongoing trade mission to the Nordic countries in support of green energy as part of the effort against climate change.

“Quick summary of our trip: extremely productive, broad participation from Washington state,” Inslee said by phone from Norway during a media conference call. “To some degree more impressive, our access to the leadership of these three Nordic countries has been extraordinary.”

The governor went on to say, “We’ve a had good discussions with a whole host of leadership which has the capacity of helping build our economy and fighting climate [change] at the same time.”

The trip, which saw Inslee visit Finland and Sweden before coming to Norway to learn about that country’s transition to a green economy across key industries, is already paying off, according to the governor.

Inslee noted a number of Washington companies are on the radar of Nordic businesses and those with operations in the Evergreen State are accelerating their plans.

In making the case for Washington's green energy credibility, Inslee pointed to two next-generation battery companies – Group14 Technologies and Sila Nanotechnologies – having announced plans to operate factories in Moses Lake, Washington, to produce automotive-scale quantities of batteries for electric vehicles.

Group 14 is based out of Woodinville, Washington, while Sila is an Alameda, California-based company.

Earlier this year, Norway-based Corvus Energy announced it will be opening a battery manufacturing facility in Bellingham, Washington, as part of a plan to expand its presence in the U.S. by meeting the growing demand for hybrid and zero-emission ships.

After meeting with the heads of companies in the Nordic countries anxious to build 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, this transition to clean energy is happening so fast,” Inslee said. “And when you talk to business leaders, their main concern is the speed of permitting because they want to get their doors open in like a year, which is extremely fast.”

Inslee said wants the state Department of Ecology to have the resources necessary to speed up permitting.

“We share their impatience and eagerness,” the governor said, adding this an opportunity for job creation in Washington.

Inslee learned about the electric ferries being deployed as part of Norway’s transportation system.

He said he was excited to see his first electric ferry in Oslo Harbor.

“No smoke, and almost no sound,” 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 money that goes toward efforts at creating a greener ferry fleet, including plans for converting three Jumbo Mark II vessels into hybrid-electric vessels.

Inslee praised Norway’s move toward green energy.

“It’s both,” Inslee said when asked if Norway’s green campaign was government driven or market driven. “The first was from government policy. Way back in the 90s the Norwegian government established policies to reduce their carbon footprint, and they’ve been quite dramatic. They’ve basically we’re not going to sell fossil fuel cars after 2025. They’ve given a message to utilities and manufacturing to move in this direction. So over a decade ago the Norwegian government has been creating both incentives and regulatory structure to help these companies move forward in Norway.”

Last month, Inslee announced Washington would follow California’s lead and phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered motor vehicles by 2035.

“This is a critical milestone in our climate fight,” Inslee said in a message on social media at the end of August. “Washington set in law goal for all new car sales to be zero emissions by 2030 and we’re ready to adopt California’s regs by end of this year.”

In 2020, Washington lawmakers passed legislation that Inslee signed into law directing Ecology to adopt California’s emissions standards as they’re rolled out.

Inslee said Washington’s green energy ambitions match those of Norway and that working with Nordic companies will speed up technological innovations to benefit everyone.

“So, I feel really positive about this trip,” he said.

Staff Reporter

Brett Davis reports on Washington state government for The Center Square. He previously worked for public policy organizations the Freedom Foundation and Washington Farm Bureau, as well as various community newspapers.