Big Oil ups lobbying pressure in response to growing clean energy momentum
Despite support of health, faith, labor, equity, and environmental groups, clean energy polices stall out
Olympia, WA – Despite a diverse movement advocating for clean energy policies, the 2015 Washington State Legislative session saw intense lobbying from the oil industry and did not make progress on climate and clean energy policy.
“This legislative session, the voices – and political spending – of Western States Petroleum Association members like Shell Oil and BP were able to block clean energy progress,” said Becky Kelley, president, Washington Environmental Council. “But the tide is turning – we’ve seen that in the fierce local opposition to oil and coal terminals and in the overflowing hearing rooms in Olympia. Washingtonians are demanding progress on climate and clean energy.”
Wins for Big Oil over the public interest this session include: a transportation package with the “poison pill” intact. The provision pits the state’s ability to provide cleaner alternatives to petroleum against funding for transit. The Oil Transportation Safety bill that passed was gutted, failing to provide protections for Puget Sound and address funding needs. The Big Oil Tax Loophole remains open. And the legislature did not move forward on accounting for the cost of carbon pollution and failed to pass the Carbon Pollution Accountability Act.
“Washingtonians are already paying the price for pollution – with their health. We all are doing our part to keep this state that we care about clean and big polluters should too,” said Carrie Nyssen, Vice President of Advocacy and Air Quality, American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific.
Washington State continues to witness and experience the impacts of climate change and oil dependence. During the 2015 session, there have been five more fiery oil train derailments in the US and Canada. And in Washington, economic impacts to the shellfish industry, decreased snowpack this winter, a state of emergency for drought, and, though it’s only June, wildfires devastating Washington communities.
“Climate impacts equal human, social and economic impacts.” said Gregg Small, Executive Director, Climate Solutions. “But while the oil industry’s influence amped up this year, we also saw very diverse voices showing up and speaking out – including health, faith, business, labor, Tribes, social justice groups, and people from across Washington. That’s a new situation and that is what it will take in Washington to win against the oil industry longer term.”
Two clean energy bright spots were a $40 million Clean Energy Fund extension in the capital budget and fighting back special interest attempts to weaken the people’s Clean Energy Initiative – I-937. This popular program has continued to increase renewable power and investment in Washington since its passage in 2006 – despite repeated attacks in the legislature. Voters have consistently shown that they support investments in clean energy like wind and solar.
“The fight for a clean energy economy is far from over and the movement is growing,” said Shannon Murphy, president, Washington Conversation Voters. “We look forward to showing Big Oil the power of Washington voters who want our state to lead on climate action with coalitions for change like the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy.”
A join statement from the American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific, Climate Solutions, Earth Ministry, Washington Conservation Voters, and Washington Environmental Council.