The short 2014 Washington legislative session concluded on Thursday night, and centered on a single question: How will we prepare a better future for our children? The question was central to the policies put forward by the Environmental Priorities Coalition: Do we want a future where basic education is fully funded, and our communities are safe? Or will we let fossil fuel companies gobble up tax breaks and run dangerous oil tankers through our backyards?
In Olympia, the answer to that question was shown by Big Oil’s lobbying power, which was on full display this year. Rep. Reuven Carlyle introduced a bill that would close the Big Oil Loophole to help fund education, but ultimately, Big Oil twisted arms in Olympia and got away with taking our tax dollars yet again. When our children’s future and education is at stake, our classrooms are packed and our teachers are under-resourced, it is simply unacceptable to give $63 million dollars to oil companies that are flush with cash.
Elsewhere on clean energy, Climate Solutions and our allied organizations, Northwest Energy Coalition, Washington Environmental Council, Washington Conservation Voters and Renewable Northwest Project, were able to defeat another onslaught of attacks on Washington’s most effective clean energy policy, the Energy Independence Act, or Initiative 937. With your help and the Governor’s leadership, we prevented any significant changes to the law. During this session, however, the conversation did begin to turn to the future of clean energy in our state and how to strengthen and extend I-937 beyond 2020. We know that the energy efficiency and clean energy components of the law are enormously successful at reducing pollution and creating jobs, and we need to have a productive conversation about how to build on that progress. We cannot talk about the future though, if we are constantly defending the gains of the present. Next session, we must call upon our legislators to continue towards a sustainable future and grow our clean energy economy by building on the success of I-937.
Short legislative sessions are difficult, because legislators are tackling complex issues on an accelerated timeline. At the same time, global warming continues apace, and we risk dangerous climate disruption on an accelerating timeline as well. As we recognize our successful defense of the clean energy economy in 2014 and look towards the 2015 legislative session, we cannot be satisfied with simply holding the line. The best science tells us that we are on track for dangerous climate disruption. In the next year we have to show Olympia that oil companies, and their fossil fueled cronies, will not be allowed to run our state. We can embrace a clean energy future that creates jobs, improves the health of our families and lessens the dangers of climate change, but we must break the strangle hold that fossil fuels — oil and coal — have on our economy and our legislature. Let’s make the rest of 2014, and all of 2015, about holding fossil fuel companies accountable to create a better world for our children.