We are leaders, organizations, businesses, and communities calling for strong climate action in Washington State. This legislative session is an incredible opportunity to accelerate solutions to the climate crisis—as we know that while it’s not too late to act, it’s definitely not too early.
First, we write to urge your support for the path to 100% carbon-free energy. With the climate crisis escalating and no prospect of constructive federal action, states must now lead the way toward a clean energy transition, and time is of the essence. No state is better positioned than ours to demonstrate that a fossil fuel-free electric power system is technically possible and economically affordable.
Washington’s electric power system is among the cleanest and most affordable in the nation. It is also among the least dependent on fossil fuel. This is not a coincidence. Our strong economy and our clean air go hand in hand with our relatively low reliance on fossil fuel.
We cannot rest on the laurels of our relatively clean power, and it’s certainly no time for new investments in fossil-fueled electricity. Over the next few decades, we must complete the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, phasing out carbon emissions from coal, oil, and gas throughout the economy. With growing numbers of businesses making location decisions based on the availability of clean, low-carbon energy, the development of a fossil-free energy system would further position Washington as a leading center of economic growth.
Our relatively clean power system is not an excuse for inaction. On the contrary, it’s a license to lead, at a time when we desperately need to accelerate efforts to decarbonize the global economy. We know that smart policy choices can deploy technologies already at our disposal to provide abundant, inexpensive and reliable energy. This clean energy imperative derives directly from climate science. We need to rise above any politics as it’s about physics. The toll of carbon pollution on our economy, our forests, agriculture and fisheries, our families and communities, our clean air and health, and homegrown industries is mounting rapidly. Washingtonians—especially those who can least afford the economic and health consequences of climate disruption—are feeling these impacts personally, now.
We don’t need to “pick winners” or advantage any particular non-fossil energy. Every energy resource, even energy efficiency, has economic and environmental impacts that must be considered. Serious concerns about the safety, cost, and waste issues associated with nuclear power remain, and demand continuing scrutiny. Likewise, new hydropower projects should not have adverse impacts on water quality, stream uses, or further endanger Northwest salmon or other protected fish species.
To address the climate crisis, we must make a clear distinction: with any energy technology, we need to choose, site, and mitigate resources and projects to minimize environmental impact as well as economic costs. But with fossil fuels, the issue is no longer just about siting, choosing among sources carefully, or mitigating impacts after the fact; we must stop expanding their use immediately and categorically, and transition away from them over time. And it’s the Washington way; when it comes to building a strong economic foundation with long-term investment in clean energy, nobody does it better.
One hundred percent fossil-free electricity is by no means a complete or sufficient climate or clean energy policy. It does not prescribe a particular energy path or technology mix. It simply puts a stake in the ground now and affirms that we will take no more big steps backward. In so doing, it strengthens our commitment to move forward together—toward clean energy, shared prosperity, and real climate solutions for Washington.
Knowing that this step alone is not sufficient, we also urge you to support several other critical and necessary policy solutions that work in concert with carbon-free energy and are before the Legislature this session:
A price on global warming pollution: by accounting for the price of carbon in our economy, we can accelerate renewable energies like solar and wind, invest in the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of land and water resources to increase carbon sequestration and storage, help human and natural communities adapt to a changing climate, grow middle class jobs, improve our health, and move away from polluting fossil fuels. We can do so in a way that protects and lifts up the most vulnerable among us, and launches a cleaner, more equitable economy.
Advancing clean fuels: we need to end our reliance on fossil fuels to power our transportation sector. With a clean fuels standard in Washington, we could create more homegrown jobs, boost small business growth, and provide people more choice at the pump among the many benefits of increasing production of clean, low-carbon fuels. It’s working in Oregon, British Columbia and California, so our leadership here could align with other neighbors to boost the West Coast market for clean fuels.
We can no longer ignore the strange and increasingly severe weather we’re seeing here and across the U.S. We have a collective duty to protect this state we all love and call home both for us and future generations—and that means tackling climate change now. We urge you to support a 100% carbon-free energy standard, a price on global warming pollution, and clean fuels.