Our Most Recent Steps Forward on Climate Policy

Action on climate change can begin at home, with Washington state residents leading the way. To that end, The Nature Conservancy in Washington has submitted three draft initiatives to the Secretary of State’s office that begin the process of political research toward an initiative on the ballot in 2018 or 2020.

These filings are just one of many steps we are taking to determine the best path forward on policies that would achieve lower carbon emissions while investing in clean energy and natural resilience in our state. What we learn at this stage will help inform our approach toward action that will garner widespread and diverse support.

Phil Rigdon, of the Yakama Nation, stands near the Yakima River. Photo by Steven Gnam

“We are working to bring together the right set of interests, the right policy combinations that work for Washington, our communities, our business and establishing the political foundation for moving forward in the boldest possible way,” our Government Relations Director Mo McBroom said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Another path forward would be for the Legislature to enact laws that would lower carbon emissions, and we strongly support bipartisan action on carbon pricing. But should the Legislature not act, a ballot initiative put to a public vote would provide a way for Washington to lead on addressing climate change.

Washington State Capitol building. Photo by Hannah Letinich.

This isn’t the first time The Nature Conservancy has been involved in crafting and advocating for ballot measures. In 2016, we led or were partners on 18 ballot measures across the U.S. that raised funding for clean water and conservation. We were successful with 16 of them, such as when voters in Missouri renewed a statewide sales tax that will dedicate $800 million to water, parks and soil conservation.

And we’re not alone in this. To be successful, a broad and diverse group of champions will need to come together to support bold action. We are committed to working in a collaborative and transparent fashion with the many organizations that are already leading on climate action, including the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, CarbonWA, businesses, social-justice organizations, tribes and community groups.

Why is this necessary?

Serviceberry bushes showing signs of extreme drought, near the south shore of Lake Chelan. Photo by John Marshall.

Climate change is already causing harm to our state: weather that brings more frequent droughts and more severe storms, and environmental effects that range from ocean acidification in Puget Sound to diminished snowpack in the mountains. These impacts are not felt proportionally by all, and often hit rural or underserved communities hardest.

To address these challenges, and to seize the opportunities offered by the transition to a clean-energy economy, the health, environment and economic well-being of Washington’s residents would benefit most from enacting a carbon policy that eliminates reliance on the dirtiest sources of energy and makes strategic investments in clean energy and clean air projects. These investments would tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of Washington businesses and could maintain and create thousands of family-wage and community-sustaining jobs in Washington state while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

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