At our monthly meeting on 1/8/2017, OCA unanimously directed our Executive Committee to write this letter to Washington’s Senators, urging them to carefully vet the Cabinet-level nominees of the incoming Trump administration, to protect our community from the consequences of failing to act decisively on climate change. And we’re urging our local governments to write a similar note.
It’s up to us to stop these attacks before they can really start. Join us during the first 100 hours of Trump’s presidency to set a tone that we will not stand for any attempts to undermine the fight for justice.
We are quite concerned about the actions to date of President-Elect Trump and his advisors on the issue of climate change, many of whom seem determined to moving the country backwards on climate. We simply cannot afford to move backward: the consensus climate models indicate that if decisive action is not taken immediately, we will be setting in motion an unacceptable level of climate chaos for decades to come. We are concerned by a number of facts about Trump’s cabinet-level nominees:
- There is evidence that Trump has leaned heavily on advice from the multi-billionaire fossil-fuel magnates and climate deniers, the Koch brothers, and other fossil-fuel industry executives.
- Scott Pruitt, nominated for head of the EPA, is a climate change denier who has worked on behalf of the fossil fuel industry to gut environmental laws that protect our climate and public health, and as Oklahoma Attorney General let an oil company official write some of his official correspondence.
- Rex Tillerson, nominated for Secretary of State, has never worked anywhere except Exxon, the company most responsible for decades of cynical deception about the risks of climate change—and is now under investigation for fraud. Most recently at his Senate confirmation hearings, he said that the climate change literature is “inconclusive” and refused to answer questions about the oil giant’s long history of denying the science of climate change. Following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine and seizure of Crimea, he continued to support Russia’s development of its off-shore Arctic oil fields, pursuing partnerships with Russian oil interests faced with western sanctions.
- Ryan Zinke, nominated for Secretary of the Interior, denies human-caused climate change and has stated his intention to lease public lands to the fossil-fuel industry (which contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaign) for pennies per acre.
- Rick Perry, nominated for Secretary of Energy, campaigned in 2012 wanting to abolish that very agency, and has called climate change a “contrived phony mess”. He sits on the board of Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline.
- Mike Pompeo, nominated to head the CIA, has ridiculed concerns about climate change, ignoring the national-security implications.
In summary, we are concerned that Donald Trump seems to be putting in place a Climate Denial administration that threatens our very future, and we ask you to do everything in your power to protect our nation and the earth from those who ignore science, risking those they are entrusted to protect. To send a message to Trump, go here. And to send a message to the Senate about these nominees, go here.
For more background on these nominees:
The risks of climate change to our local community have been well documented in a recent multi-stakeholder study in which most of our local governments were involved, led by the North Olympic Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council—see http://www.noprcd.org/about2. We simply cannot afford to stop making progress on the transition to a clean-energy economy and on preparing for climate impacts we won’t be able to avoid. We must all stand up to protect our common future.
An artistic tour-de-force by local family physician Ned Hammar (notes here):
Occupy.com has posted a story about “6 ballot initiatives to watch in 2016.” Author Matt Stannard calls I-732 “absolutely the most important initiative in the country.”
From the story: “At the top of the list is the first and only carbon tax and rebate initiative in the United States, an idea championed by a variety of advocates across a wide ideological spectrum. Over a two-year period, Initiative 732 would institute a $25 per metric ton of CO2 consumed in the state. The proposal also reduces state sales taxes across the board by 1 percent; this makes sense because sales taxes are regressive for no socially defensible reason, while the carbon tax at least has a purpose. Even better, the proposal provides up to $1,500 per year in the form of a tax rebate to 400,000 of the lowest-income Washingtonians – the people most likely to fear a post-carbon transition for legitimate economic reasons.”
In a presentation to the Dungeness River Management Team, CarbonWA executive board member Mike Massa made the case for the I-732 revenue-neutral carbon tax and refuted the statements that the Clallam County PUD had made opposing the initiative at a previous DRMT meeting. Here are his slides in Powerpoint and PDF format.
Note the projected economic impacts:
$226 annual net benefit to a median-income Clallam County family, based on the sales tax reduction and where our power comes from.
$1500 annual benefit to low-income families from the Working Families Tax Rebate, passed by the state legislature in 2008 but never funded.
Also, a recent letter to the Peninsula Daily News describes the ways in which I-732 may advantage the operations of Port Angeles’s biggest mill, Nippon Paper.
Furthermore, an even-handed analysis of I-732 has been produced by the Sightline Institute, and their conclusions are quite positive:
- “We find I-732 a worthy policy to put Washington on a path to cutting pollution and encouraging clean energy while also helping low-income families by making Washington State taxes less regressive.”
- “I-732 would give Washington the continent’s, if not the world’s, most potent, persistent, and comprehensive incentive to move swiftly beyond dirty fossil fuels and to a carbon-free future.”
- “I-732 is revenue-neutral, to the best of anyone’s ability to forecast it… [The argument to the contrary] is a red herring… I-732 is likely to be much closer to revenue-neutral than the [Department of Revenue’s] forecast suggests… Even if the Department’s estimates are correct, I-732 will still be a rounding error… I-732 will likely have less than a 1 percent impact on state tax revenue for decades.”
- “Initiative 732 does exactly what the scientists and economists prescribe: it sets a science-based, steadily rising price on pollution. The citizens’ initiative covers most of the state’s climate pollution, makes the tax code more progressive, and is administratively elegant.”
- “I-732 would be the biggest improvement in the progressivity of Washington’s state tax system in 40 years.”
You’ve heard this stuff from us for months, but these quotes are from an independent in-depth 3-part analysis of I-732 from Sightline Institute. Go read the analysis yourself (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). And then here are four things you can do right now to get the word out and support the campaign!
- Share these quotes and articles with everyone you know via email, Facebook, Twitter, in-person, etc.
- Share them with lots of people you don’t know by writing a Letter to the Editor of your local paper.
- Get energized to spend the next 95 days participating in our history-making grassroots campaign by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to get plugged in with the campaign by making phone calls and coming to an event and knocking on doors.
- And of course they need your donations to keep rolling until November 8. (Twenty bucks will get you a yard sign! And if your employer provides matching funds to 501(c)(3) nonprofits then you can double your impact by donating to Better World Credits; email email@example.com for details.)
“We are disappointed that the Clallam County PUD Board of Commissioners voted against supporting Initiative 732, a measure designed to accelerate the switch to affordable clean energy.”
In a guest opinion piece in the Sequim Gazette, OCA members collaborated on a response and appeal to the Clallam County Public Utility District Commissioners to rescind their opposition to the Carbon Tax Initiative, I-732. The main points:
- Most Clallam residents will keep more money in their pockets with I-732.
- I-732 will help the PUD meet its state and federal regulatory mandates.
- Most importantly, I-732 will curb fossil fuel pollution which contributes to climate change, a problem with serious social and economic consequences for Clallam County–winter floods, summer drought, wildfire, sea-level rise, and ocean acidification among them.
The piece concludes: “We have a responsibility to protect our children and future generations from these dangerous and costly threats to our community. With I-732, we can reduce taxes while protecting the environment. We urge the Clallam PUD commissioners to support I-732 and fulfill their mission to provide reliable, efficient, safe and low cost utility services in a financially and environmentally responsible manner.”
Catastrophic weather events seem to capture more headlines with each passing year–including events which have cut off power or water to PUD customers. The time for “business as usual” is past. We will continue to educate the PUD Commissioners and PUD customers about the advantages of I-732 to our community, our state, our nation, and the world at large. Climate change is not going away, and these issues aren’t either–in fact, they become more compelling with each passing day.