Vote yes on I-1631 for clean energy | Letters

As a union member and environmental educator, I encourage everyone to take a stand for clean air and clean energy this fall by voting YES! on Washington state ballot initiative I-1631.

I-1631 was crafted by a coalition of about 200 groups, including the Washington State Environmental Council, the Washington State Labor Council and tribes, faith and community groups.

In Washington state, a fee would be placed on carbon pollution from large polluters – the oil industry and utilities that distribute that oil. The funds would be invested in creating tens of thousands of good jobs in renewable energy, clean water and sustainable forestry statewide.

A fee is different from a tax. A fee legally must be used for the purpose it was collected. The funds can’t be shifted to something else.

Taxpayers pay for the health impacts of carbon pollution. It’s time for polluters to pay. When we shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency, people’s health will improve from cleaner air and water.

Much of our energy comes from hydroelectric dams. But increasing our solar and wind energy makes us more self-reliant in case of power outages and droughts, which result in a decrease of hydropower.

Fossil fuels are on their way out. By helping accelerate the transition to renewable energy, we’ll reduce tanker traffic and the chances of an oil spill that would seriously impact our marine life and local economies. San Juan County can be part of our state’s leadership in good new jobs. And OPALCO can receive funds to invest in grid technologies and modernization.

I-1631 includes exemptions for some fossil fuel-related industries, to prevent them from leaving the state and polluting more elsewhere. Despite some compromises, policy written by the labor and environmental communities together is historic and much needed, taking low-income and worker’s needs into account.

If we pass I-1631, it will serve as an example for other states and the country. So please vote YES! on ballot Initiative 1631, so we can improve our health and bring tens of thousands of good new jobs to our state.

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Sharon Abreu