Letter: We can lead country by passing I-1631

Editor,

A just-released report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading international body for the assessment of climate change, states that we have only 12 years – that’s right – only 12 years to limit the looming climate change catastrophe.

Hence, we must move faster to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Here in Washington state, we have an opportunity this November to take a leading role in this effort by voting ‘yes’ on Initiative 1631.

This initiative would put a fee — not a tax — on the state’s largest polluters and then use the money to protect the environment and build new clean-energy infrastructure throughout the state.

This fee, unlike a tax, cannot be spent on government expenses or public programs, but must be used to invest in those climate and environmental projects targeted by I-1631.

A closer look at I-1631 shows that the fee on the largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions will generate almost 2.3 billion dollars in the first 5 fiscal years. Seventy percent of this money would go to a “clean air and clean energy” account, 20 percent would go to a “clean water and healthy forests” account, and the remaining five percent would go to a “healthy communities” account.

Advisory panels created for each of these accounts would be tasked with providing detailed investment and other project recommendations to a public oversight board.

This oversight board would consist of members from the departments of health, transportation, public instruction, at-large citizen and tribal representatives, the commissioner of public lands, and directors of commerce, ecology, recreation and conservation.

I-1631 is an investment in a better future for Washingtonians: cleaner air, cleaner water, improved health, better forest protection, greater energy efficiency and 40,000 living wage jobs.

While it is possible that the “fee” imposed on greenhouse gas polluters could lead to small increases in the price of gasoline, for example, the costs of doing nothing to mitigate the tragic consequences of climate change are incalculable.

We have a chance to lead the country with this ballot measure — a bold first step to seriously address the greenhouse gases that are adversely affecting our climate, and ultimately, the inhabitability of our planet.

Let’s pass I-1631

Marshall F. Goldberg

Oak Harbor

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