Abigail Doerr, the transit advocate and campaign professional running for Metropolitan King County Council, released a climate plan Wednesday calling for all county-owned vehicles to be zero-emission by 2028 and for all new construction in unincorporated areas to use exclusively clean electricity.
King County set a goal in 2007 of reducing carbon emissions by 25% by 2020, a target it is almost certainly not going to make. In 2017, the county had reduced total carbon emissions by only 1.2% from 2007 levels.
Doerr, 30, who previously ran the unsuccessful 2018 push for a carbon tax in Washington state, said climate change is an animating issue of her campaign and that the county is not doing all it can to address it.
“The King County Council has spent their energy on task forces and half measures that are not cutting it,” Doerr wrote in her nine-page plan. “The solutions must be bold — we must address the gaps in policy and action at the local level.”
She calls her proposal the “most comprehensive climate plan” from a county council candidate.
She wants a countywide replacement for the Seattle Transportation Benefit District — a 2014 measure that hiked sales and car-tab taxes to increase bus service in the city and that expires in 2020.
“I have not seen any leadership from King County Council members representing Seattle on how to replace and expand this effort,” Doerr said.
Doerr’s opponent, incumbent Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, also bills herself as a climate champion and has pledged to push for increased Metro hours, availability and accessibility.
King County Metro already has plans to move to a carbon-free bus fleet by 2040, but Doerr wants to speed up that timeline and apply it to every other vehicle the county owns as well. That includes the nearly 1,500 van pool vans the county owns, plus heavy-duty vehicles, like trucks, that may not yet be available in emissions-free versions.
Doerr would require the county to consider carbon when selecting building materials for its projects and would require all new private construction in unincorporated areas to use clean electricity sources.
Puget Sound Energy, which covers most of the non-Seattle parts of the county, gets about 40% of its power from renewable sources and the rest from coal and natural gas, according to a 2018 county report.
Doerr’s plan also has proposals to build more and denser housing, require county agencies to consider racial and health disparities in planning and nudge more big employers to provide transit passes for their employees.
Kohl-Welles, on her website, touts legislation she’s sponsored or supported that imposed a six-month moratorium on new fossil-fuel infrastructure in the county and to study the feasibility of making the entire Metro bus fleet electric and diesel hybrid and said she plans to implement the recommendations of that study.
“I appreciate my opponent’s support of the policies I’ve already sponsored,” said Kohl-Welles, 76, who’s been a legislator for more than 25 years. “It’s great of Abigail to have joined this movement I’ve been involved with and championed for so long.”