This November, Washington voters have the chance to say yes to protecting our home and investing in our communities. Initiative 1631 would put our state on a path to reducing carbon emissions, transitioning to clean energy, and healing years of damage from fossil fuel pollution. Backed by a diverse coalition of groups across the state representing workers, businesses, families, health professionals, communities of color, and environmental advocates, this initiative will create living-wage jobs by investing in clean energy, healthy forests, and clean water.
Climate change is a threat to the health of our waters, communities, and economy. And it is without a doubt impacting the Puget Sound watershed. Climate change is a major driver of ocean acidification, which threatens wildlife and the ecological balance of oceans and estuaries. Puget Sound is acidifying faster than almost anywhere in the world, endangering local fisheries and the fishing economy.
Climate change also worsens drought, wildfires and extreme storms, all of which impact waterways and the people who depend on them. Warming rivers in the Pacific Northwest are literally cooking salmon to death. Recent research shows that climate change makes the effect of dangerous contaminants like PCBs and mercury more severe for aquatic species, including the endangered Southern Resident orca whales. And extreme weather contributes to dangerous flooding, which can release toxic pollution and damage infrastructure that helps keep communities safe.
The oil industry is pouring millions of dollars into our state to defeat this initiative – a spending record of over $31 million. Big polluters don’t want to be accountable for cleaning up their act and aiding the necessary transition to clean energy. But big oil knew for decades about the threat of climate change. Their choice to stand by and wait while raking in profits, rather than stepping up and working to solve the problem, means that communities on the front lines have had to bear the costs of pollution and environmental destruction for far too long.
It’s past time to take action, and although federal leadership is failing on this issue, our state can do the right thing. Initiative 1631 is the foundation we need for positive change, rooted in solutions that will protect the communities most impacted by climate change and put equity and justice first. Your vote is critically important. When you fill out your ballot, vote for a just transition and clean air and water – vote yes on Initiative 1631!