Legislators: Put a price on carbon now

By unanimous agreement at our meeting of 5/7/2017, we have sent this letter to our state legislators:

Senator Kevin Van de Wege

Representative Steve Tharinger

Representative Mike Chapman

Washington State Legislature

Dear State Legislative representatives from District 24:

Olympic Climate Action maintains a membership of more than 600 members from the Olympic Peninsula through email and other social media. Our membership promotes action by government at all levels to both mitigate climate change and prepare adaptation measures. We believe that the single most urgent thing we need to do as a society is to put a price on carbon that reflects its true costs and provides a disincentive for its use. Our membership has been happy to see a number of proposed carbon tax bills under consideration by the state legislature. Each has its pros and cons. In urging your own consideration, we would like to underscore the following concepts:

  • Urgency: Scientists tell us that we have precious little time to waste on converting to a clean-energy economy, and therefore we urge action on a carbon-pricing bill NOW. Economists seem to converge on an initial price at $25 per ton of CO2.
  • Efficacy: Scientists such as James Hansen, former NASA lead climate scientist, also tell us that to set a target that doesn’t risk the safety and well-being of the next generation, we need to aim for 350 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere by the end of the century, and that to hit such a target, we need to reach a 91% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Our carbon pricing needs to aim for that target.
  • Support for mitigation: Use some of the proceeds to actively support the reduction of our carbon footprint through incentives, research, and infrastructure investment.  Explore the creation of a market for forest carbon sequestration.
  • Equity: Assure that those least able to deal with additional expenses in their budgets find relief; that poor communities least able to deal with cope with climate impacts are helped to achieve resiliency; and that workers in dislocated economic sectors are helped to find alternate employment.
  • Integrity: Construct the program in such a way that it does not lead to “leakage” of greenhouse-gas emissions to other states or countries.
  • Accountability and oversight: Ensure that taxpayers’ funds are spent both effectively and efficiently with broad benefits, including implementing the State’s Clean Air Rule.

In addition to carbon pricing, we also support these related initiatives:

  • Oil Transportation Safety (HB 1611) will help address a $3.6 million funding shortfall in state oil spill prevention programs, improve oil spill prevention for Puget Sound, and provide more public input on proposed oil pipeline projects. This is common-sense protection for our communities, and it comes under threat of vastly increased shipping in our waters.
  • The creation of an electric vehicle charging station loop around the Olympic Peninsula.  While such infrastructure will enhance our tourism business, it will also facilitate the conversion by local residents to electric vehicles.  We hope you will work with your colleagues to support General Fund investment in publicly-available electric vehicle charging stations, as well as the maximum allowable funding of EV chargers from the VW litigation settlement.

Please respond with your positions on these topics, or if you wish we’d be glad to meet with you to discuss these critical issues.

Sincerely,

The members of Olympic Climate Action, adopted unanimously at our general membership meeting of May 7, 2017