We face two roads here in Washington: Moving forward together toward a healthier cleaner state, or staying gridlocked with business as usual, allowing the big polluters to line their pockets at the expense of our kids’ future.
This year, we have an opportunity to take our future into our own hands with Initiative 1631. It will clean our air, create good-paying jobs for people all across the state and ensure a healthier future for our kids and grandkids.
The three of us represent the largest most diverse initiative coalition Washington has ever seen. We’ll be the first to tell you I-1631 is not a radical groundbreaking policy. It’s a practical solution that puts a fee on the state’s largest polluters and helps make clean energy more affordable for more people across Washington.
What is groundbreaking? The coalition behind us. I-1631 is led and supported by more than 250 organizations representing scientists; environmental and clean-energy advocates; working families and unions; communities of color; health professionals; businesses large and small; faith leaders; and tribal nations. Why have so many groups and businesses come together? Because we know to beat our opposition it’s going to take all of us.
Five big oil companies make up 99 percent of the “No” campaign’s funding. They’ve already amassed $16 million to buy misleading TV ads and flood our mailboxes with false information. They want to tell us it will cost too much and just won’t work. That there is no accountability. But those are the same lies they told us the last time and the time before that. They know the more we invest in cleaner transportation options, more energy efficiency and new clean-energy jobs, the less we line their pockets and add to their record profits. Why else would they spend so much to fight it?
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We know the effects of pollution are only going to get worse. We’ve seen firsthand as people suffer from worsening asthma, heart disease and lung disease; workers who’ve endured dangerous conditions in the fossil-fuel industry; and the decline of our forests, salmon runs, and farmlands from pollutants and hotter, drier summers.
We want everyone, not just those who can afford it, to be able to live in healthy communities free of pollution; we want our neighbors to have access to jobs that are built to last and support a family; and we want those communities left out of our current economy to have a place in a clean-energy future.
What will that look like for communities across Washington? A report by the Political Economy Research Institute estimates I-1631 will help create an estimated 40,000 jobs, putting people to work building:
- More clean energy like solar, wind and other renewable energy
- Better transportation options like public transit and cleaner vehicles
- Investments in rural broadband so more people have the option to drive less
- Efficiency upgrades to lower energy costs for people’s homes and businesses
- Sustainable supplies of drinking water and cleaning up polluted waterways
- Forests that are resilient to disease and wildfire, and protect our air quality
- Tools and protections local communities need to fight the impacts of a warming climate
This is all overseen by a board of experts and community leaders who will work with our elected officials to come up with the best plan for making these investments. This ensures I-1631 is accountable to the public and completely transparent. The board is regularly audited to ensure we are meeting our goals to reduce pollution by 25 million metric tons per year by 2035 and investing in those communities across our state that are hardest hit by pollution.
Over the summer, more than 2,300 volunteers from around the state worked tirelessly to collect the signatures needed to get this initiative on the ballot. More people every day are volunteering to take time away from their families and devote evenings and weekends to this campaign because they believe in the future we know we can build.
But the real fight is starting right now. The oil industry is already flooding our airwaves with ads trying to divide us, but we know when we come together real people are always stronger than their money. We face two roads here in Washington: moving forward together toward a healthier, cleaner state, or staying gridlocked with business as usual, allowing the big polluters to line their pockets at the expense of our kids’ future.
We think Washington is ready for a different path.