WA 2019 Environmental Legislative Goals
By Natasha Kacoroski
On your mark...get set...clean energy, here we come! Washington Environmental Priorities Coalition (EPC) has a plan to power all electric energy in the state from renewable sources and they are raring to go. It started on December 8, 2018, with the 100% Clean Energy Kick-off Meeting and Training in Tacoma, which three of your fellow Eastside Audubon members attended (including yours truly). To bring you up to speed, here’s the gist.
For 2019, the EPC, which is made up of 18 organizations including Audubon Washington, has four goals. First, address climate change by moving the state electric grid to 100% renewable energy. We’re already about 70% of the way there! Second, emergency recovery with a focus on removing threats to the Southern Resident Population of Killer Whales (orcas) in the Puget Sound as this charismatic megafauna, icon of the Pacific Northwest, is facing extinction. Third, increase protections to decrease the risk of oil spills. Fourth, reduce plastic pollution in waterways and the ocean.
After an introduction to these four goals, Ryan Mello, a member of the Tacoma City Council, talked about success in the city with implementing environmental legislation in Tacoma. Already, fifty small local businesses have pledged their support for clean energy! Mello also impressed on us the importance of knowing why we advocate and the synergistic power of intersectionality - by working together, we can go far. Following Mello’s presentation the moderator had all of us use our smartphones to call state legislators to ask for their support for 100% clean energy during the upcoming legislative session.
Speaking of which...Hey! I bet you might have a smartphone. Quick! If you don’t know your state legislators, go here. Using the district office number for your legislator, call them. Here’s the script. It won’t take long :)
“Hi, my name is ________________ and I’m a constituent of the ______ district. I wanted to ask Senator / Representative to support a bill this session that would put Washington on a path toward 100% clean energy. Thank you very much!”
Next, Gael Tarleton (D-Seattle), Representative of the 36th district, painted a picture of the 100% Clean Energy plan. There are four milestones for utilities in Washington: (1) the elimination of coal as a source of electric power by 2025, (2) 100% carbon neutral with no more than 20% from fossil fuels by 2030 or face administrative penalties, (3) 100% carbon neutral with no more than 10% from fossil fuels by 2040 or face administrative penalties, - and (4) 100% clean energy by 2045. This timetable is still under debate. Carbon neutral means that fossil fuels may still be used, but the estimated greenhouse gases produced are offset by actions that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Four brief breakout advocacy training sessions finished the day. Building Power in Your Community addressed ways to canvass local business owners for support. Your Voice in the Media discussed how to write effective letters to the editor, best advice—include your personal story. Using Social Media for Advocacy touched on social media such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Of note was the Facebook’s Town Hall tool to connect with your congress people, and the Friend Lists feature to share or hide posts with certain individuals. Finally, Building a Strong Relationship with Your Elected Officials reviewed how to make a visit with a legislator memorable by connecting over a shared interest.
To sum up, the path for clean energy and other environmental goals in Washington State is on the horizon. A good thing, because I would like to keep seeing it - #beautiful, #sunrise, #sunset, - and, you know, some birds too. If you want to know more, please click at the link for the Washington Environmental Priorities Coalition at the beginning of the article. And although there’s a plan, it’s going to take some hard work to achieve 100% clean energy, so please get involved! Contact your legislators, volunteer with us, and mark the date for Lobby Day - January 29, 2019 - in Olympia.