350 WA Network’s Civic Action Team 2021 Legislative Priorities
Now is the time for bold action. Now is the time to invest in the recovery and long-term resilience of at-risk workers, low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal communities. Now is the time to begin a just transition off fossil fuels.
Advocating for sound and just climate policies is an important way to take action and the Civic Action Team provides a collective way to do that.
These are the policy issues we’re tracking for the 2021 legislative session.
The need for bold investments is critical. To truly be balanced, the budget must increase equity. True equity is anti-racist and promotes economic security for the least advantaged. We support progressive revenue options such as a capital gains tax, extending the state’s estate tax, an excise tax, and redirecting resources from public spending on policing and prisons to investments that support community health and well-being.
Equity criteria for carbon pricing
Two proposals to put a price on carbon pollution are expected this session, a cap and invest program and a green bond backed by a carbon tax. Both are intended to reduce pollution and, perhaps to differing degrees, support the just transition of workers and communities away from the fossil fuel economy that is destroying our climate. Since both approaches have equity concerns (cap and trade in California has not reduced pollution at the source; carbon taxes are regressive), we are tracking them closely while urging legislators to incorporate equity criteria into any carbon pricing legislation.
Racial justice and climate justice are inextricably linked, and we are following the development of policies by WA for Black Lives and other Black-led coalitions to address racial justice issues in our state. We will be supporting racial justice policy during the 2021 session as part of our intersectional approach to climate advocacy.
It is time to center environmental justice in the work of our state agencies by adopting the recommendations of the Environmental Justice Task Force: define environmental justice in state law; require its use in state agency planning; ensure the sovereignty and rights of Tribal Communities; create and fund a community-interagency environmental justice work group; and establish environmental justice staff and training at state agencies. Environmental bills, rule-makings and budgets should be evaluated with an environmental justice lens to identify how cumulative impacts burden communities.
Update the Growth Management Act
This is the year to modernize the Growth Management Act, before Washington’s cities and counties begin their next round of comprehensive plans, locking in policy for the next decade. These updates incorporate climate planning for disasters like extreme weather, floods, droughts and wildfires, require local participation in state emission reduction goals; add affordable housing options and eliminate discriminatory and exclusionary housing/land-use policies; and incorporate environmental justice and equitable engagement of impacted communities.
Transportation For All
We support policies to generate transportation revenue in a progressive way that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, improves multimodal transportation choices, and ensures fair and equitable outcomes. We seek to reduce vehicle miles traveled and transition to clean transportation while prioritizing investments in the highly impacted communities that experience the greatest burden of climate and air pollution. And we support allowing local jurisdictions to take the stable, progressive funding decisions they need.
Will 2021 be the year to finally pass Clean Fuels and join the other west coast states by reducing the carbon intensity of our vehicle fuels? The resulting drop in particulate emissions would benefit the health of all communities living near heavy traffic. This bill incentivizes the transition to electric vehicles of all types. Let’s finally break free from fossil fuels!
Clean Cars 2030
All new cars must be electric beginning in 2030. This bill does that, while allowing gasoline vehicles from 2029 and earlier to be kept, sold or purchased used. Emergency response vehicles and vehicles over 10,000 pounds, such as farm equipment, would be exempt. How’s that for a clear signal that the gasoline era is ending?
Healthy Homes, Clean Buildings
Requires new buildings to be carbon free by 2030 and eliminates fossil fuels from existing buildings by 2050. Residential and commercial buildings account for one-fifth of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions and is the fastest-growing sector in terms of emissions. We also support allowing public utilities to help their customers switch to electricity, which may be a separate bill.
The Governor’s climate package includes weatherizing a small fraction of state homes, a necessary but modest step toward energy equity and efficiency. We support a more aggressive approach that includes apprenticeship training.
Buy Clean, Buy Fair
By establishing reporting on the carbon intensity of building materials in state projects and labor conditions at production facilities, this bill promotes competitiveness for responsible Washington manufacturers and grows demand for fairly-produced low-carbon materials. Learn more in this two-pager.
Let’s fix our state’s broken recycling system! This bill establishes outcomes-based recycling guidelines for packaging and paper products, and includes environmental and social equity principles. It also phases out single-use Styrofoam, hooray! Here’s the bill, SB 5022, and a summary with the highlights.
Fossil Gas Reforms
There’s no place for fossil gas in a carbon-free future. We support closing fossil gas tax loopholes, removing outdated statutory preferences for fossil gas, and ending LNG manufacturing tax incentives.
Are these priorities you can support? To participate, sign up here.
To dive into the weeds of an even larger list of climate-related bills, check out the invaluable Climate at the Legislature.
RESILIENT FUTURE PLATFORM
The 350 Washington Network is a member of the Climate Alliance and supports the Resilient Future Platform.