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.
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.
Meanwhile, we weren’t as lucky with the Seattle Times: the paper ended up writing that “To tackle climate change… voters should say no to I-732 — and yes to Hillary Clinton.” Of course, that didn’t exactly turn out to be good advice. The point of this is to reflect that few correctly predicted how 2016 would turn out, including us, so we should keep that in mind as we try to predict how efforts will pan out in 2017 and beyond. We’ve got to continue to be open minded, welcoming of alternative strategies, and focused on the primary task: cutting carbon.
Many of the key leaders at CarbonWA are taking some time off this August — but that doesn’t mean that important work doesn’t continue. We are watching a few key things: The Association of Washington Businesses filed a lawsuit last year against the Governor’s Clean Air Rule, which is still progressing. We haven’t heard anything new on that front, but a federal court upholding Obama era Methane rules this July could be a good sign (we aren’t legal experts on this but the state clean air rule relies on federally granted authority under the clean air act — so the stronger the interpretation of the Clean Air Act in general the better). We are also watching the Our Children’s Trust lawsuit at the state and federal level, which has challenged our government at both levels for having too-weak climate targets.
Meanwhile, the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy has hired some field staff and is busy organizing the state. Many people are asking us whether we are supporting their work or whether we are involved. Right now, we are not directly involved in their work, though we are staying up to date on it. Organizing is always a good idea, but we are waiting to see some legal language, policy details, and for their political strategy to continue to develop before we comment further.
Finally, we are curious to see how the special legislative election pans out in the 45th district. So far, democrat Manka Dhingra has spoken out on climate change more than her opponent, but Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund has claimed to believe in climate change and climate science as well (though this is disputed). Both of them need to back up their claims with concrete policies they could support (bonus points if they put climate change on their websites, too!). We’ve learned that talking about climate change doesn’t necessarily lead to acting on climate change, but the winner’s party will control the state senate with significant implications for our work. Finally, we are a little late to share this, but we are thrilled that the UTC has developed pilot programs for our utilities to roll out electric vehicle infrastructure (shout out to former state rep Chad Magendaz (R) for providing some legislative leadership on this). This is a good start, but not enough. Washington is missing an ambitious EV goal (like California’s new goal of 1 million EV’s by 2020 — WA’s 2020 goal is 50,000!) to guide this work going forward.
We see two opportunities in 2018 for climate action: the legislative session and a ballot initiative in the fall. It looks like passing a major climate plan next legislative session will be a long shot, but there is interest in continuing to work on carbon tax bills, particularly a carbon tax that includes some tax reform (maybe even lowering the property tax!) after this year’s budget increased property taxes.
Jay Inslee also vetoed a B&O tax cut for manufacturers last spring — a tax cut that could be included in a carbon tax grand bargain. Looking to the ballot, the Alliance may put a carbon tax on the ballot, and we are interested in pursuing additional ballot concepts like a ban on coal, or a strengthened clean air rule. Of course, we still support carbon pricing, too. If you have thoughts about what we ought to be focused on in 2018, email Kyle@carbonwa.org, and stay tuned for additional developments, policy analysis, and opportunities to weigh in.
And if you want to help us make sure we keep playing offense, please consider DONATING so that we have the resources to lead future legislative and ballot efforts. If you want to see us in the game, we need your support.
CarbonWA is searching for a volunteer to coordinate our social media presence and we are seeking a development chair for our board. You can read more about the development position here. If you are interested in either role, please email Kyle@carbonwa.org with some information about yourself, including your professional experience and experience working on climate change.
From the whole Carbon Washington team