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Washington is one of the cleanest, greenest states in the nation, emitting less than .01% of all carbon emissions globally. Washington’s access to clean, renewable hydropower is one reason for the state’s small carbon footprint. Despite the failure of two statewide carbon tax initiatives (I-732 and I-1631), policies in the past decade have been passed by the Legislature and implemented with little or no transparency for the public, via state agency staff and higher energy costs, to know if the policies have met any of their goals. Read the KING 5 TV report from November 2023 for more on the lack of transparency and goal achievement.

Everyone has a stake in a clean environment. I have been proud to work on salmon recovery efforts with Long Live The Kings and others to ensure a healthy environment that restores salmon runs. But as with all results-based policies, they must be measured. Unfortunately, despite the cost to taxpayers and the benefit of time to achieve the goals in legislation, the outcomes are less than impressive:

  • Transportation is the state’s top greenhouse gas emitter – cars driving on the road and idling in some of the nation’s worst traffic. The KING 5 report notes that our state’s emissions are up, not down. Emissions in 2019 were 40.3 million metric tons (MMT). That’s 4.8 MMT over the state’s goal and a 2.8% increase over the amount in 2018.
  • In addition, the state committed to having its entire fleet of cars move to biofuel or electricity, which has not happened, creating an additional strain on meeting carbon emissions goals.
  • We have a dated electrical grid that is seeing an increased demand as we move to the electrification of cars and the strain from technology. Our state and national leaders must promote and encourage investment to update our energy grid, which could make energy delivery up to 50% more efficient, and make use of renewable energy more effective.

Clean water and air and healthy forests and wildlife habitats are not partisan. My position is:

  • When it comes to spending on environmental issues, the public expects results—not politics—from their elected leaders, state agencies, and the many local entities.
  • I support the efforts to meet and exceed carbon reduction goals, but we need a commonsense approach to goalsetting so we can measure our results and change strategies as we go.
  • We must address transportation infrastructure to move people efficiently through our most congested areas. Transit isn’t the sole answer because of its siting limitations. Still, it is one of many solutions, like opening up HOV lanes during peak traffic times, lowering the HOT lane tolls to get people moving, and improving public safety so more people feel comfortable taking mass transit and/or riding their bikes to work.
  • Residents want elected leaders to start where they have agreement and can see a real difference – addressing forest health, for example. Spending on meaningful programs like managed thinning and fire breaks and partnering with communities for programs that assist more homeowners with wildfire mitigation work is critical. None of us want our skies filled with wildfire smoke every summer.

INITIATIVE 2117 – Repealing the Climate Commitment Act

The Legislature passed the Climate Commitment Act (CCA) in 2021. The CCA is one of many measures to address climate change by policy that was passed with the promise of lowering carbon emissions. One of its goals is to get Washington’s carbon emissions to 45% below 1990 levels by 2030, 70% by 2040, and 95% by 2050. However, despite the $2.1 billion given out through a cap-and-trade market the Act created, little or no data is available on the outcomes. 

My position on the initiative is to let the voters decide. I trust them to decide what is working and what is not. They voted for the individuals who passed the Act and should decide if it is fulfilling its mission or needs to be retooled by the next Legislature. There is no evidence, other than the billions of dollars raised by the CCA carbon allowance auctions, that any meaningful advancement on our move to a net-zero-emissions state has been achieved.