By Guillermo Rogel Jr., Front & Centered Legislative Advocate
The people of Washington state, and Black, Indigenous, and people of color in particular, are facing tremendous challenges as we enter the 2021 legislative session to survive, let alone to thrive. But with this crisis comes unique opportunities to not just cope, but to accelerate systemic change, a Just Transition away from extractive economy toward our vision of climate and environmental justice.
We can make permanent, temporary measures to keep people’s homes connected to electricity, even as we transition off fossil fuels. We can make our transportation and land-use systems align with our needs, like healthy air and water, a secure place to live near transit, and community self determination. We can invest in the green infrastructure communities require to get off oil, gas, and coal and meet our state climate goals. In this pursuit, we can put justice at the center through a new Health Environment for All (HEAL) Act building on the just released Environmental Justice Task Force report and our Community Report on Environmental Justice.
Accelerate a Just Transition toward Climate and Environmental Justice
- Increase the self-determination of frontline communities – those disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate change – in environmental decision-making
- Restore frontline communities connection to each other and to the places they live
- Create and sustain livelihoods that are regenerative and shift us away from the extractive economy
- Transition to renewable resources
2021 POLICY PRIORITIES
Make Justice a State Environmental Priority
- Define environmental justice (EJ) in state law and require its application using a racial justice lens, and equitable community participation in agency strategic plans, goal setting, program implementation, enforcement, and reporting that has environmental impacts.
- Direct funding with environmental benefits toward investments in and determined by communities highly impacted by pollution and climate impacts.
- Ensure the sovereignty and rights of Tribal Communities in environmental justice.
- Create and fund a community-interagency work group and EJ staff and training at state agencies.
- Require EJ analysis of proposed and previous environmental bills, rulemakings, and budgets, fund and apply the Washington Environmental Health Disparities Map to identify how cumulative impacts overburden communities, and develop additional tools to measure the link between environmental quality and human health, disaggregated by race.
Enshrine Climate and Environmental Justice in Land-use Planning
- Make environmental justice a requirement of local comprehensive plans
- Include anti-displacement and reduction of vehicle miles traveled
- Plan for climate resilience
Advance Just Climate Investments and Prevent Pollution Trading Schemes
- Advance a Just Transition by raising revenue and investing in community-determined and controlled pollution reduction and resilience strategies in frontline communities, acknowledging that making pollution more expensive in itself is neither just nor sufficient as a climate strategy.
- Ensure effectiveness and that no community faces increased social or environmental harm, intended or unintended, by preventing loopholes integral to cap and trade that allow regulated polluters the ability to trade, offset, or otherwise avoid a obligation to reduce emissions under a emissions cap.
Create Clean and Just Transportation for All
- Fund state transportation investments that reduce pollution and increase access to opportunity in frontline communities, including:
- Anti-displacement-focused, transit-oriented housing, commercial, and community space
- Transit and public transportation
- Active transportation
- Electrification of fleets
- Create new state transportation revenue sources that are just, not restricted to roads, and structured to reduce environmental and social impacts, including the air quality surcharge and luxury transportation tax, and prevent the rollback of multi-modal funding sources by Tim Eyman that seeks to undermine the self-determination of communities of color.
Build Foundational Infrastructure for Resilience and Just Transition
- Pass the Energy For all Bill HB 1490
- Create a Washington State Bank that uses local money for the Just Transition off fossil fuels and the extractive economy and reduces dependence on Wall Street to finance our needs.
- Pass progressive revenue sources that reduce economic inequalities and support the basic safety net features of home, food, and healthcare necessary for a Just Transition.
For questions, contact:
Guillermo Rogel Jr., Legislative Advocate at 360-359-5696, [email protected]