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Hello, CarbonWA friends: Today’s message launches the first of a multi-part series looking ahead to the climate politics of 2018. We’ll be covering the political prospects for legislative action, initiatives, and more!

The Landscape

The last legislative session was a golden opportunity to pass a price on carbon: both parties knew they needed to raise revenue to fund education, our efforts over multiple years proved that there is at least some interest in carbon pricing from both parties, and the looming threat of another ballot initiative — from the Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, or CarbonWA — all increased the pressure to address climate. While we think there were enough votes to pass a climate package, that didn’t come to pass for reasons we outlined in July.

Looking ahead, the prospects this legislative session look even tougher for a few reasons:

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Colstrip coal plant

Hello, CarbonWA friends: Soon, we’ll be sharing our policy goals for next year and updating you on developments with other environmental groups like the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, The Nature Conservancy, Washington Tribes, and the business community as we all work toward pricing carbon. In the meantime, read on for policy updates and climate news!

Puget Sound Energy Paying off Colstrip by 2027! 

Puget Sound Energy, in a settlement agreement has agreed to pay off its debts on Colstrip by 2027, significantly earlier than the original 2045 payoff date. This is a useful step towards shutting down Colstrip units 3 and 4 (Units 1 and 2 are already scheduled to shut down in 2022). This agreement doesn’t ensure that Colstrip will shut down in 2027, and UTC commissioners will still need to approve the deal, but it makes it much easier to achieve an earlier shutdown of Colstrip units 3 and 4 because PSE will not be under as much pressure to continue to run the plants to pay off existing debt after 2027. (more…)

Hello, CarbonWA friends: The smoke has finally cleared over western Washington, but we are still in the dog days of summer. We thought this would be a good time to zoom out, look back, and look ahead.

Last August: 

In mid-August of 2016 we sent an email blast announcing news that we had received the endorsement of Republican State Senator Joe Fain (for I-732) and that we had just interviewed with the Seattle Times endorsement board. We were pretty excited at the time, because after being told we wouldn’t get a single Republican to support climate action, we had just snagged our 3rd legislative endorsement. While we proved that you can get some Republicans to the table on climate change, we haven’t been able to secure a breakthrough with the majority of the party, and it remains to be whether they are ready to lead on this issue. (more…)

Photo by Olu Eletu

Photo by Olu Eletu

Carbon Washington is mapping its future — and we invite you to consider coming along with us on the journey. We’re looking for a Treasurer to provide financial oversight and a Development Chair to assist with fundraising. Here are the descriptions of each position, along with info on how to apply:

If those roles don’t sound like you — but you’d still like to help — you can get involved by writing your legislator, subscribing to our newsletter, and donating to help us get ready for 2018. Thanks for your interest in helping us accelerate clean energy!

MEDIA STATEMENT (Contact: Samara Villasenor, samara@greatworkcommunications.com, 425.255.0890)

Climate change
Washington’s children have a constitutional right to both an adequate education and a livable climate. While lawmakers took steps to fully fund K-12 education, they failed — for the third year in a row — to seriously consider bills that would substantially reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

As in 2015, House and Senate leaders missed a golden opportunity to solve two problems at once, by putting a price on carbon pollution to both reduce emissions and help meet the state’s funding needs. Democrats neglected to walk their climate talk, failing to bring any of the four carbon tax bills put forward this session to a vote in the House. Meanwhile, some key Republicans continue to espouse the false notion that a carbon tax would hurt the state economy, despite clear evidence to the contrary from multiple studies and the experience implementing a carbon tax in British Columbia.

Our grassroots members worked tirelessly during the session to educate their representatives on the urgent need to protect our climate. We are grateful for their efforts and support. We also commend Sen. Hobbs, Sen. Palumbo, Rep. Fitzgibbon, and Gov. Inslee for proposing meaningful carbon pricing policies this year.

Given the Legislature’s unwillingness to act, it’s clear that taking meaningful steps to reduce carbon pollution will be up to the citizens of Washington. Carbon Washington’s next step will be to explore potential ballot initiatives that will reduce emissions and accelerate the transition to clean energy — in an effective, equitable, economically sound, and politically viable manner. We look forward to working with civic, environmental, business, and social justice leaders to get a winning measure on the 2018 ballot.

We can no longer ignore the threat that climate change poses to our state’s people, environment, and economy. All of us have a moral obligation to protect the children of today, and future generations, from the dangerous impacts of climate change. There is no more time for delay. We need to ACT NOW.

Pitcher - Keith Johnston

Hello, CarbonWA friends: The legislative session is winding down (hopefully). This message is to thank you for contributing to our effort, to reflect on what we’ve achieved, and to provide our candid take on Olympia.

Our legislative campaign made a difference

The legislative session is down to the wire, with an agreement needed by June 30th to avoid a shutdown. We did a heckuva job putting a carbon tax in play this legislative session without much in the way of well financed lobbyists or a huge team of staff. We’ve held two lobby days engaging hundreds of people around the state (around 400 but who’s counting!). We created and led the ACT NOW coalition of nearly 40 groups joining us in calling for a price on carbon now. We’ve placed or influence numerous media stories (for highlights check us out in the Seattle TimesSeattle Business MagazineSeattle WeeklyWashington State Wire, and the Everett Herald). We’ve held meetings ourselves with many legislators and we’ve influenced the 4 carbon tax bills in play. Together, we’ve made it abundantly clear that climate advocates AREN’T GOING AWAY.

We are deep into extra innings now. It is hard to know exactly what the key negotiators are talking about behind closed doors. Our intel suggests that a carbon tax has been presented to the negotiators and officially put on the table as an option.  (more…)

NEWS RELEASE (Contact: Samara Villasenor, samara@greatworkcommunications.com, 425.255.0890)

olu-eletu-134760ACT NOW Virtual Lobby Day on June 15 will demonstrate voter support for a carbon tax to reduce carbon pollution that causes climate change and fund the state’s biennial budget.

Advocates for a Carbon Tax NOW (ACT NOW) will hold a statewide virtual lobby day on Thursday, June 15, to demonstrate to Washington state legislators that their constituents enthusiastically support a price on carbon. Audubon Washington, Carbon Washington, and the League of Women Voters of Washington are among a growing coalition of organizations and individuals that have joined ACT NOW because they want to see a carbon tax pass during this legislative session. There are currently four carbon tax bills in front of the state legislature which, if passed, would demonstrate leadership on climate change policy while offering a path forward for creating the revenue required to rewrite the state’s biennial budget.

“We have a moral responsibility to protect our birds, our children, and future generations from the adverse effects of climate change,” said Gail Gatton, Executive Director of Audubon Washington. “We can’t afford to wait any longer before we take action. Our state legislators have a golden opportunity in front of them to show bipartisan leadership by passing a carbon tax. Doing so would set much-needed precedent for other states to follow. This is how change starts.” (Full statement here.)

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Solar panels

MEDIA STATEMENT (Contact: Samara Villasenor, 425.255.0890)

Statement from Carbon Washington Board Co-Chair Mike Massa:

“Carbon Washington is shocked and saddened by President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. His abdication of federal responsibility leaves a void of conservation leadership which states and cities must fill. We call on the Washington State Legislature to enact a price on carbon pollution, along with other measures to accelerate the transition to a vibrant clean energy economy, during the current legislative session.

“This is a pivotal moment for our elected leaders to show the nation that bipartisan action to tackle urgent problems is still possible in America. And it is an opportunity to demonstrate to the children of Washington State, and the greater world, that their futures matter. Together, we owe them a livable climate and the opportunity for a healthy, prosperous life. Let’s get to work.”

Here are some other statements concerning the responsibility of states and cities to lead the way on clean energy and carbon reduction: (more…)

Louis-Pellissier-Paris

Hello, CarbonWA friends: The Trump Administration is leaving the international Paris Climate Change agreement. CarbonWA board co-chair Mike Massa speaks for all of us with this message in response:

“Carbon Washington is shocked and saddened by President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. His abdication of federal responsibility leaves a void of leadership which states and cities must fill. We call on the Washington State Legislature to enact a price on carbon pollution, along with other measures to accelerate the transition to a vibrant clean energy economy, during the current legislative session. 

“This is a pivotal moment for our elected leaders to show the nation that bipartisan action to tackle urgent problems is still possible in America. And it is an opportunity to demonstrate to the children of Washington State, and the greater world, that their futures matter. Together, we owe them a livable climate and the opportunity for a healthy, prosperous life. Let’s get to work.”

Let’s also remember that the Paris agreement was never going to be enough on its own. A stable climate was neither won or lost in Paris, and it is neither won nor lost now. (more…)

Kyle Murphy“Our long-term game plan is to build a grassroots climate organization where citizens are in charge and where moderates and conservatives can come to the table with liberals as partners. We believe if you get citizens and leaders from all political backgrounds working together, we’ll get good outcomes and that a low carbon future can actually be a really prosperous one, too.”

That’s just part of what Carbon Washington Executive Director Kyle Murphy told Washington State Wire’s Keith Schipper. In a wide-ranging interview, Murphy also discusses the lack of progressive support for Initiative 732, the prospects for the carbon-tax bills now before the legislature, and why a carbon tax (that doesn’t hurt low-income families) is such a good idea. (more…)