Long known for its environmental stewardship, Washington has yet again taken a significant step toward a cleaner and healthier future for its residents. The state Legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee deserve credit for enacting Senate Bill 5116, establishing ambitious yet achievable clean-energy goals.

This forward-thinking bill also reinforces the important role of existing nuclear power in achieving a clean-energy future. In Washington, the Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant produces approximately 9.8 percent of the state’s carbon-free electricity. The plant is an important economic driver, responsible for approximately $475 million in economic output in Washington as well as $250 million in gross state product (GSP), and supports 2,830 direct and indirect jobs across the state.

Across the nation, nuclear energy currently provides the largest amount of zero-emission energy, and therefore, it is vital that existing nuclear capacity is preserved and protected as we move to more carbon-free sources. As demand for electricity continues to rise, the need for rapidly scalable, reliable and safe energy is more pressing than ever.

With the bill’s passage, Washington provides other states with an actionable model for how to achieve carbon-free and clean energy goals.

Carol Browner, Washington, D.C., former administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (1993-2001)