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Communities of color poised for the next chapter of climate action

Leaders of Color Support I-1631

As several equity-driven candidates of color were elected into office in the other Washington, Washington state had earlier and higher voter turnout than in the previous two midterm elections. And for the first time in Washington state history, an unprecedented number of 400 diverse groups representing Tribal Nations, faith communities, labor, environmental, health and science groups, paved the way for the world’s first initiative imposing a carbon fee on our state’s biggest polluters. We all agreed it was past time for corporate polluters to pay for the damage to our planet and the health of our communities in Washington state. Initiative 1631 spurred a broader, shared movement for climate justice.

“What this campaign has shown is you can bring diverse voices, from every corner of our state together around a common solution,” Yes On 1631 campaign staff expressed in an official concession statement. “Despite the most money spent in our state’s election history and an unprecedented misinformation campaign from out-of-state oil companies, Washingtonians took another step forward towards solving this challenge.”

Working against record spending of more than $31 million in opposition efforts, campaign staff, partners and at least 6,500 volunteers persuaded nearly 44 percent of Washingtonians to vote “Yes on 1631.”

“The solution may change, but our values and goals remain the same,” the statement continued. “We will continue to center the voices of those most impacted by pollution and work for a just transition for communities in our state so that everyone can share in a clean energy future.”

While 1631 would have cleaned Washington’s air and water for all its residents, providing 40,000 jobs to transition us into a more just, clean-energy economy, we also ensured the initiative would benefit frontline communities of color bearing an unfair and disproportionate share of harm from climate change. This meant setting aside investments in clean-up solutions for communities hardest-hit and most vulnerable to environmental health hazards.

Together, we took on oil giants, one of the most formidable opponents on the planet. We will continue to fight for dignity and respect of our planet and people. We have no choice: Our lives and communities depend on it.

In the next few weeks and months, we will gather our coalition partners and move forward together with broader communities around the state. We will continue to leverage our collective strength towards climate action.