October 6, 2015

Voters will lead Washington’s transition to a clean energy economy

With businesses, unions, communities of color and faith groups standing shoulder to shoulder, today the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy announced their plan to bring an Initiative to the People in 2016. By accounting for and addressing the cost of global warming, the initiative will direct investments to accelerate the transition to clean energy and reduce the impacts of global warming pollution on the people, industries, and lands hardest hit by climate impacts.

“Washington has long been a national leader on technology innovation, from airplanes and software, to energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said Brenna Davis, Chair of Washington Business for Climate Action, during a press conference today at EnWave Seattle. “Today we continue in that spirit of innovation, resolving to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy in a way that supports affected businesses and communities.”

Over the past year the Alliance has built a broad and diverse base of support necessary to succeed at the ballot. The Alliance conducted a statewide listening tour to hear Washingtonians’ perspectives on global warming. The tour confirmed public opinion research that showed Washington voters support policies reducing global warming pollution and expanding the use of clean energy. The coalition anticipates strong opposition from fossil fuel interests, which have waged aggressive, deceptive campaigns against climate policies in West Coast states for years.

“The people of Washington demand urgent action,”  said Lisa MacLean, Director of the Alliance. “We are pursuing an effective, equitable and viable ballot measure by listening to the people of Washington state, and working with businesses, unions, communities of color, and environmental, faith and health groups.”

Global warming pollution is starting to change the region’s climate and increase the frequency and ferocity of wildfires, drought and hotter temperatures. Children, seniors and people of color are suffering the most from the effects of burning fossil fuels, from increased asthma rates to heat-related illness.

“Because the impacts of climate change are not distributed evenly, it’s crucial that the experience and knowledge of communities on the frontlines are now part of creating the solutions,” said Peter Bloch Garcia, Executive Director of Latino Community Fund.  “Addressing climate change can also support environmental and economic equity for communities of color and people with lower incomes.”

The wildfire season in the West this year has been “among the worst in recent memory,” according to the National Interagency Fire Center, with Washington communities and industries hit particularly hard. The largest forest fires in the state’s history have scorched over a million acres of land, destroying communities, razing crops, threatening livelihoods and claiming the lives of three firefighters.

If approved, the initiative would build on the state’s recently announced Clean Air Rule by enforcing existing global warming pollution reduction targets, charging the largest emitters a fee for each ton of carbon pollution they emit. The funds will be invested in accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy and addressing the impacts of carbon pollution on our air, land and people.

“The solutions to climate change are opportunities to lift people out of poverty, create stable jobs in a resilient economy, protect our communities from extreme weather and invest in clean air for our families,” said Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson.

The coalition is working closely to establish the final details of the policy during the remaining months of 2015, and the Alliance will begin collecting the necessary signatures to put the initiative on the 2016 ballot after the turn of the year.


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