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Washington election results: setbacks, motivation, and why we need a Clean Fuel Standard

Tuesday was not a happy day for the climate, transportation, and equity in Washington State. However, we know that this work is not always easy, and we’re determined to keep progressing. While the results of the election so far are not positive, we’re working on next steps for funding a clean transportation system that is accessible to all. Here’s what’s happening.

Referendum 88

An approval of Referendum 88 would promote fair and equitable opportunities for everyone, leveling the playing field for women, veterans, people of color, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. It sadly appears that Referendum 88 is being rejected, though the vote is close and the tally is not yet final. Whatever the outcome, Climate Solutions will continue embracing one of our guiding values of justice: “To achieve climate stability and resilience, we must address injustice and inequity in our own communities and beyond.”

Initiative 976

Unfortunately, Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976, which will cut more than $4 billion from public transportation, road, and rail projects over the next six years, has passed. The impacts will be felt all over Washington State as nearly $350 million in voter-approved local transportation project funding through Transportation Benefit Districts will be eliminated.

King County is facing the loss of 300,000 hours of bus service, 14,000 bus passes for low-income families, and billions in state funding that would go to road safety and ferry improvements. King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan are seeking an injunction on the initiative and are planning lawsuits.

Everyone deserves to be able to safely and affordably access where they work, do errands, and interact with their community. We also need a stable climate. Though Initiative 976 threatens this by jeopardizing our transit systems and road safety, we will be fighting back with creative policy that will benefit communities and the climate. So, Climate Solutions is working hard with its partners on progressive, carbon-forward revenue options that will be invested in a clean and just transportation system.

We’re not waiting for the upcoming legislative session to advocate for a clean transportation system. Don’t forget that the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is considering the strongest clean fuel standard in the nation, one that an agency analysis says will even prevent premature deaths and reduce carbon in our transportation sector by 25% by 2030. In addition to protecting our health and our climate, this standard will provide revenue for utilities to reinvest in transportation electrification, and for transit agencies to improve their fleets and their service. In California, transit agencies receive $10,000 annually in credit revenue for each electric bus they operate—money which can then be used to further improve transit, creating a positive cycle. A statewide clean fuel standard would provide these same benefits, which will be especially impactful in the wake of Initiative 976.

Tuesday’s results were disappointing, but we’re determined to continue fighting for our climate, our health, and our communities. Join us in supporting a strong clean fuel standard today, and stay tuned for more advocacy to come.

Leah Missik's picture

Washington Transportation Policy Manager

, Climate Solutions

Leah helps develop and implement policies that will accelerate our transition to a clean energy economy, with a focus on the transportation sector. She brings a strong background in environmental policy and advocacy to Climate Solutions.

Prior to this position, Leah was the Senior Program Manager of Built Green, a green home certification program in Washington State. In this role, she collaborated with public and private partners to expand green building incentives, conducted studies on the benefits of green building, and promoted the program to builders and the public. She also served as co-chair of Shift Zero, a zero net carbon building alliance. Previously, she worked as a Renewable Energy Analyst at the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Leah holds her Master of Public Affairs from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, with concentrations in Environmental Policy and International Affairs. She received her B.A. from Kenyon College in 2010. Leah is a Jackson Leadership Fellow, an alum of Leadership Tomorrow (Class of 2018), and a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program.

As a volunteer, Leah serves on the Executive Committee of the Sierra Club Seattle Group. She also collaborates with Russian environmental activists, translating their work into English. With the rest of her time, Leah enjoys running, hiking, bicycling, going to concerts, practicing her Russian, exploring anywhere in the world, and reading.