Washington prides itself on having a clean environment: dense forests, clean water, and sweet air. But the Evergreen State has a dark secret: dirty petroleum fuels are polluting our air and harming our future. Gasoline and diesel fuels have a monopoly over our transportation fuels options, spewing pollution that triggers asthma attacks. Our dependence on fossil fuels takes children out of school, off the playground and places them in the hospital.
Washington's asthma rate is higher than the national average, and lower income communities near ports and highways are the most acutely affected. Better solutions exist, but we need a Clean Fuel Standard to create healthier options for those who need them most. A Clean Fuel Standard will create a fair market for clean fuels, benefitting Washington-produced, sustainable biofuels, renewable natural gas and electricity from wind, solar and hydro. With healthier communities and a growing economy, a Clean Fuels Standard means a better life for thousands of families across the state.
So how can we make a Clean Fuels Standard work in Washington? Governor Inslee already has the authority to implement a Clean Fuel Standard and bring relief to families across the state. Oil companies know this, of course, and are fighting a Clean Fuels Standard harder than anything -- they know what might happen when consumers get clean fuel choices.
Earlier this year, the Washington State Senate passed a transportation funding bill that would outlaw a Washington Clean Fuel Standard. On the other side, the House version of the bill protects a Clean Fuel Standard and prioritizes transportation. Democrats and Republicans from the House and the Senate are now negotiating over which version should become law. If the oil companies have their way and the Senate version passes, families struggling with asthma will blocked access to real solutions.
As Climate Solutions' Washington Policy Specialist, Ben provided policy research and expertise for Climate Solutions in and out of the Washington legislature. Working with the policy team from 2012 to 2015, Ben worked on legislative, budgetary, and regulatory issues related to electricity generation and transmission, fossil fuel transport, and transportation fuels at the state and federal level. In 2014 he was named a Young Climate Leaders Network Fellow.
Before moving to Seattle, Ben consulted for the Ministry of Commerce in Cambodia, studied economic development in Brazil, worked on carbon market policy for The Nature Conservancy in San Francisco and attended college in Walla Walla, Washington, where he received an honors degree in Politics-Environmental Studies from Whitman College.
Ben enjoys Seattle’s rain, coffee and forgiving clothing culture where anything plaid counts as a dress shirt.