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Coalition Leadership Statement on I-2117

The 2024 legislative session concluded on March 7th with no action taken on I-2117. That means the question of whether to repeal the Climate Commitment Act will head to the ballot this November, alongside two other initiatives: I-2109, which would repeal the capital gains tax, and I-2124, which would repeal long-term care insurance. The following is a statement by the Front and Centered Coalition Leadership regarding I-2117:

The campaign to repeal these recently enacted laws represents a reckless and bad faith effort by a wealthy individual and his politics of despair and division to undermine well-intentioned policy for the environment, education, and healthcare.

We oppose I-2117.

The Front and Centered coalition and our members have a record of leadership in fighting for healthy communities and the type of investments that are reflected in these laws, including co-creating and co-leading the campaign for I-1631, the Protect Washington Act, and also opposing false promises, including I-732 and the use of a carbon trading markets as a climate strategy.

During the campaign for I-1631, oil companies like BP and others spent a record $31 million to defeat the measure. In the aftermath, policymakers moved closer to BP and other corporate entities’ preference for a carbon market, while also adopting the I-1631 investment framework, resulting in the Climate Commitment Act.

We will never sacrifice communities’ well-being in order to tap into the political power of corporate polluters, and we will continue to shine light on the Climate Commitment Act’s deeply problematic pollution trading provisions that favor those polluters, including the Department of Ecology’s intent to link Washington’s carbon trading market with California and Quebec. Linkage won’t pass the environmental justice smell test.

However, we oppose the effort to repeal a law that’s been extremely successful in bringing in revenue for climate investments that can be used in communities that need it the most. The revenue is providing important investments in community capacity building and collaborative governance, like participatory budgeting, community assemblies, and Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act capacity grants. If the repeal is passed, these and further critical investments in public transportation, home energy conservation, affordability, decarbonization, and air quality would face cuts, as would funding for developing and implementing climate resilience strategies.

We oppose I-2117. At the same time, we must hold legislators and the Governor accountable to health equity and a Just Transition, regardless of if the initiative measure passes or fails.

The legislature again fell short of its commitment for investments to benefit frontline communities this year, as it did last year. Cap and trade is a form of “carbon pricing,” which means raising the cost of oil, gas, and coal to discourage the burning of fossil fuels, but without holding major polluters directly accountable, simply relying on the market will only cause more injustices, suffering, and resentment.

That’s why follow-through on policies like the HEAL Act and the Clean Energy Transformation Act and enacting the Cumulative Risk Burden Pollution Act are critical, as are progressive energy rates and getting frontline climate investments closer to California’s 70%+ benchmark, rather than falling short of a mandated 35% in Washington State. We need a comprehensive portfolio of policies that will truly accelerate a Just Transition to a climate future that’s both just and politically sustainable.

Front and Centered Community Council and Staff Leadership