This week we’ve got official confirmation that I-732 has qualified (!), a final 250 Club update, the unveiling of our new website (yeson732.org), and a great editorial on carbon pricing in the NY Times.
We will share the official document with you when it’s released, but for now we have (what else?) a Twitter post from the Secretary of State’s office that I-732 was certified, plus an email that their 3% sampling procedure “projected 262,940 valid signatures, well above the required 246,372”. Great work everyone—staff, interns, volunteers, donors—and a great segue to our final 250 Club update (with the caveat that you should let me know if we’ve mistakenly left you off the list!).
250 Club update
Congratulations to our new members of the 250 Club (and please contact us if you don’t already have your CarbonWA t-shirt!): Amity Kramer in Seattle and Jan Keller, Carol Reich, and Mary Saylor in east King County. They join previous 250 Club members Heidi Cody in Vancouver; Bob Hallahan and Judy Kaplan on Whidbey Island; Gretchen Allison and Kay Keeler on San Juan Island; Cindy Jayne and Dick Stockment in Port Townsend; Martha Bishop and Barb Zimmer from Climate Action Bainbridge; three supporters in Yakima (Peter Dufault, Chuck Foster, and Eleanor Hungate); five supporters from east King County (Bob Ellis, France Giddings, Eric Hanson, Rob Marsh, and Marilyn Mayers); six supporters from Olympia (Tom Holtz, Jennifer Miller, Carole Richmond, Susan Sunshine, Frank Turner, and Jack Zeigler); two supporters from Bellingham (Amy Nielson and Rosa Rice-Pelepko), and 26 people in Seattle (Morgane Arriola at UW Seattle, Julia Bent, Kyle Conyers, Chris Covert-Bowlds, John C., Alex Dolk, Keith Ervin, Bruce Flory, Polly Freeman, Savannah Kinzer, Lindsey Klemp, Sean Kraft, Raphael Ladmer-Price, Galen LaPlante, Alex Lenferna, Scott McClay, Phil Mitchell, Todd Mitchell, Margaret Moore, Trevor Partington, Nancy Penrose, Mishu Pham-Whipple, Bill Roach, Mike Ruby, Phil Singer, and Ed Watcher).
Double congratulations to folks who have hit 500 signatures: David Scheer and Joe Wiederhold from Bellingham and David Chapin, Court Olson, and George Reynoldson in east King County. They join Ed Chadd in Port Angeles, Gary Piazzon on Whidbey Island, Scott Finley on San Juan Island, Larry Lowther in Ellensburg; Chom Greacen from Lopez Island; Betty Hauser in Olympia; three supporters from east King County (Chris Diehl, Laura Rivendell, and staffer Jason Puracal); four members from Climate Action Bainbridge (Bruce Bonifaci, Frank Gremse, Omie Kerr, and Alex Mezentsev); five supporters from Bellingham (Andy Day, David Gary, Anna Paulson, Kayta Tourtillot, and Andew Zvilna); and nine supporters in Seattle (Robin Briggs, Megan Conaway, Ron Lindsey, John Lombard, JL, Tim Newcomb, Anne Shields, Fritz Wollett, and campaign co-director Duncan Clauson).
Quadruple congratulations to Ben Larson and John Whitmer from Bellingham for passing 1,000+ signatures. They join Louise Stonington from east King County; Ande Finley from Lopez Island; Thad Curtz and Penny Purkerson in Olympia; Dave Hopkinson and staffers David Jackman and Rheanna Johnston in Bellingham; six supporters from Climate Action Bainbridge (Brian Anderson, Herb Hethcote, Cheryl Hunter, Gerlind Jenkner, Mary Clare Kersten, and Erika Shriner); and 11 folks from Seattle (David Foutch, Bob Jeffers-Schroeder, Mike Massa, Alan Ness, Ben Pfeiffer, Julia Robinson, Aaron Tam at UW Seattle, yours truly, campaign co-director Kyle Murphy, and Seattle staffers Ben Silesky and Laurel Wolf). And extra bonus congratulations for folks with 2000+ signatures (Cheryl Hunter, Julia Robinson, and campaign co-director Kyle Murphy, joining Ben Pfeiffer and Gerlind Jenkner), folks with 3000+ signatures (staffers Ben Silesky and Laurel Wolf), and Bob Jeffers-Schroeder with over 4000!
Check out our new website at yeson732.org. Please send feedback to email@example.com, and thanks to Duncan, to our “communications QB” Bill Boyd, and to web designer Warren Curkendall for bringing this to life!
In the news
Top of the list is the fabulous NYT editorial “Proof That a Price on Carbon Works”: “British Columbia started taxing emissions in 2008. One big appeal of its system is that it is essentially revenue-neutral… Researchers have found that the tax helped cut emissions but has had no negative impact on the province’s growth rate, which has been about the same or slightly faster than the country as a whole in recent years.”
In other news: Last year (2015) was by far the hottest year on record (see also the NYT and this visual from Bloomberg). Bloomberg also has “Watch Elon Musk and Exxon Finally Agree on Something”, and there’s a new carbon pricing study from World Resources Institute; see the WRI blog on “A Carbon Price Will Reduce Emissions More than Computer Models Predict” and note that this relates to the EIA studies that we’ve discussed previously. News specifically about Carbon Washington includes this Niskanen Center blog by Shi-Ling Hsu and Bloomberg’s “Tom Steyer Battles Green Frenemies in the Pacific Northwest”. More news from Olympia next week, and If you haven’t already done so please write your legislators… and if you have already written them then don’t hesitate to contact them again to make sure they’re in the loop on recent developments!
Led by the beauty and spirit of the moment,
Emboldened by the drums and wise words of the Duwamish and Native Canoe families and the voices of those on the front-lines of the climate crisis,
Driven by a moral obligation to take principled and bold action in service of a habitable planet and younger generations.
300+ people (and countless others on land) took to the water, paddling straight to Shell’s Arctic destroyer to demand climate justice.
It is in these moments that we solidify the courage to act upon our convictions. The Paddle In Seattle has seized headlines across the world and has inspired others to join the movements for climate justice.
Thank you for sharing in our vision and for striving to manifest it. Collectively we have done something truly beautiful and powerful.
Right now, we are resuming kayaktivist trainings and organizing a rapid response network for when Shell dares to leave for the Arctic. We’re also connecting the solar powered People’s Platform with upcoming night-time paddle actions.
The news from the weekend made national and global headlines in addition to completely saturating Seattle media (best- KOMO 4 TV, KIRO 7 TV, Q13 Fox TV, Stranger, Seattle PI, West Seattle Herald) This has completely changed the conversation around Arctic drilling and rocketed it to being a top national and even international issue. Even Obama found himself extolling the virtues of protecting the Arctic at a USCG Academy commencement address.
Here are a few highlights: on Saturday, the protest was #3 on BBC World News (right beneath the ISIS raid and Morsi’s death sentence, to give you perspective). The Guardian went wild with coverage as well (here, here, here, and here) and it even reached Australia!
The Associated Press story was picked up in nearly every major paper across the country from Atlanta to Minneapolis to Dallas and on ABC and Yahoo news.
The coverage from the NBC affiliate, King 5 TV, was picked up nationally.
The speeches all came from native and impacted people telling us powerful truths. In fact, after traveling to Seattle from the North Slope, Mae Hank and Faith Gemmill-Fredson – founder and executive director of the grassroots indigenous network REDOIL- confronted Shell at the AGM meeting in London. Faith spoke directly to Shell shareholders saying “The moral and financial burden of the irresponsible decision to drill in the Arctic is too risky to consider.”
Arctic drilling dominated the coverage of the meeting, casting serious investor doubt on the project.
Earlier in the week, Kayaktivists were live on MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, followed by an amazing segment on Rachel Maddow during which she spent several minutes reading out-loud the riveting and terrifying piece “The Wreck of the Kulluk.”
Lastly, #ShellNo and “Arctic drilling” were trending on Twitter and Facebook, respectively!
New Kayaktivism Training Dates:
Donate online HERE or send checks to PO BOX 278, Vashon, WA 98070
The Democratic amendment, which lost on a party line vote, would have also blocked a controversial GOP amendment that takes all sales tax revenue from transportation projects out of the general fund (about $1 billion) and puts it into the transportation package. The Democrats argue that GOP provision will decimate education funding and social service funding.
Seattle state senator Pramila Jayapal (D-37, SE Seattle) proposed a similar amendment, which also lost along party lines. Her compromise amendment would have also gone along with the GOP change, but only after the legislature came up with a plan to fund K-12 first. Her amendment mocked the GOP “Fund Education First” mantra; the GOP has repeatedly proposed not funding any of the budget until they fund education. “It looks like funding education first is just a slogan and not something they’re actually willing to do,” Jayapal said. In addition to the sales tax change and raiding the toxics account, the transportation package includes a few other things the Democrats don’t like: Only about six percent of the money goes to multimodal projects; Sound Transit got 25 percent less taxing authority than they requested; and the legislation has a provision the Democrats have taken to calling “the poison pill.” That provision says that all the money for pedestrian, bike, and transit (that’s that six percent for multimodal) turns into roads-only money if governor Jay Inslee uses his executive authority to green light low carbon fuel standards.
Campaign co-directors: We are delighted to announce that Kyle Murphy and Duncan Clauson will be starting on February 1 as campaign co-directors! Kyle, who worked last year as Field Director for the Yes for Seattle Transit campaign, will focus on Organizing; Duncan, who has an MPA from the UW Evans School of Public Affairs, will focus on Operations. Both have already been working hard on the campaign as volunteers, and as full-time paid staff they will follow in the footsteps of our previous stellar staffers Claire Meints and Kristy Royce. You can reach Kyle and Duncan at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, but please note that they don’t start full-time until the first of February!
Media and readings: One of our eight winter deliverables is to become part of the conversation, and as evidence that we’re succeeding note that our carbon tax effort was highlighted in the first question of this Grist interview with Governor Inslee. The governor took a little jab at carbon taxes—“Don’t bring a feather to a knife fight”—and as we build momentum we can expect more jabs. (See here and here and here for additional examples, the last two being responses to pieces like “How B.C. does climate policy right” from Matt Horne of Pembina and the amazing editorial on “Why Stephen Harper should love carbon taxes” in the Globe and Mail: “Aspiring politicians outside of BC, book yourself a plane ticket, and go visit your future.”)
Now, it’s not for CarbonWA to get into a back-and-forth with the governor about carbon taxes v. cap-and-trade—CarbonWA is the relief pitcher, and the relief pitcher doesn’t criticize the starting pitcher!—but we will provide evidence supporting the effectiveness of our policy, so if you’re interested please check out my two new research posts: “Carbon taxes are better than you think (Part I: Transportation)” and “Carbon taxes are even better than you think (Part II: Electricity)”.
Other readings for the week include Cliff Mass’s “What should Governor Inslee do about climate change?”, Sara Cate’s “Saturday Soapbox” in the Yakima Herald, Sustainable West Seattle’s Andy Silber on an “Alternative approach to climate change negotiations”, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer’s “Raise the gas tax. A lot” in the Washington Post, and these three pieces from carbon pricing advocates in Oregon. Also, Governor Inslee’s bill has been officially introduced as SB 5283 / HB 1314… and the state Senate voted in a rule change that apparently requires a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate to pass the governor’s proposal.
Materials: Another one of our eight winter deliverables is to update our website and materials. This is something that Duncan will be spearheading when he comes on board full-time, but for now I want to post (and encourage feedback on) this PPT presentation (based on my UW panel presentation last week) and on our 2-page brochure (which as you’ll see is intended to be printed and folded in half).
Endorsements: We are delighted to announce endorsements from the Washingotn State UU Voices for Justice and from Climate Action Bainbridge (formerly Coal Free Bainbridge). They join other endorsers like Olympic Climate Action, whose annual membership event is coming up Feb 8 in Port Angeles. Some of these groups have endorsed both CarbonWA and the governor’s effort and we think that’s terrific and are excited to pick up additional endorsements in the weeks ahead!
Events: I (Yoram Bauman) will be at the Earth Care Summit in Portland this weekend and am tentatively meeting folks in Vancouver WA this Sunday, so email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to join in! In Olympia, CarbonWA’s Akua Asare-Konadu and Thad Curtz will be presenting on Saturday Jan 31 as part of a Carbon Fee Forum co-sponsored by Olympia FOR’s Climate Group and Climate Solutions. And for folks in Bellingham, I know that CarbonWA’s Ben Silesky is planning a visit on T night Jan 27, so email him (email@example.com) for details. As for Seattle, I have presentations on W Jan 28 (I’ll be doing my comedy-and-carbon-tax talk as part of Climate Week at the UU Church) and other talks in the weeks ahead at Seward Park Audubon and Pinchot University, plus the UW panel discussion I was part of last week was so successful that it’s going to be repeated at Town Hall on M March 16. Details on all our events here! And if you want to support Governor Inslee’s bill then there’s a hearing in Olympia on T Jan 27 at 1:30pm; details and more info from Climate Solutions or EPC.
I recently joined hundreds of other activists on a video chat hosted by 350.org to discuss recent developments in the saga of the hotly debated and much delayed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. As you probably know by now, TransCanada wants to build the KXL pipeline to transport diluted bitumen (dilbit) from the tar sands of northern Alberta across the US Midwest heartland to the Gulf Coast for sale on the global oil market. TransCanada needs approval from the US State Department and President Obama to construct a pipeline across the US/Canada border. The approval process has been stalled for years due to persistent grassroots opposition and in recent months held up due to a lawsuit brought by landowners in Nebraska who successfully argued in lower courts that the planned route of the pipeline was illegally drawn and granted the builders improper use of eminent domain. While waiting for the Nebraska Supreme Court to decide whether to uphold the lower court’s decision, the permit for the pipeline’s path through South Dakota expired leaving the oil giant facing the dilemma of having no legal route for the pipeline while oil prices on the global market are plummeting cutting into their profit margin for a product that is the most expensive (and filthiest) fossil fuel to extract, transport and refine.
The most recent bit of political drama in this ongoing saga was played out in the lame duck Congress when Mary Landrieu, the embattled Democratic Senator from Louisiana, bet the catfish farm on a Hail Mary attempt to pass a bill that would have approved construction of the Keystone pipeline. The bill was defeated by a razor-thin margin of one vote, and Landrieu lost her seat in a December run-off to Republican challenger Bill Cassidy. 350.org credits this victory to citizen activists who made phone calls to fence-sitting senators as well as Occupy-style sit-ins at the offices of Senators Tom Carper of Delaware and Michael Bennet of Colorado at which 350 DC activists were arrested.
Organizer for 350.org Duncan Meisel introduced Jane Kleeb, Executive Director of Bold Nebraska. Kleeb informed listeners that the Nebraska Supreme Court decision could come soon, and expressed the belief that whatever the Court decides, the outcome will be bad for TransCanada. If the lower court decision is upheld, there is no legal route for the pipeline through Nebraska, but even if they strike down the lower court, the lawsuit has shone a light on risks to the environment that reveal shortcomings and omissions in the State Department’s Environmental Impact Statement which could solidify grassroots opposition and give Obama some political cover for a decision to reject the pipeline. One other possibility is that the Supreme Court could decide that the landowners do not have standing as plaintiffs and that could cause more delays and uncertainly in a legal process that has already held up the pipeline for several months. Kleeb is encouraged that President Obama has recently stated that building the pipeline poses catastrophic environmental risks while offering few jobs or other economic benefit and takes these statements as an indication that the President is poised to reject the pipeline outright if it lands on his desk, as seems likely to happen in the near future.
Next to speak was Dallas Goldtooth, Keystone XL Campaigner at the Indigenous Environmental Network. He described the situation in South Dakota where indigenous Lakota, Dakota and Sioux have strong legal and moral standing in opposing the re-permitting of the pipeline route through their lands. A hearing on January 6, 2015 could see TransCanada’s appeal to extend the permit dismissed on the grounds that the tribes were not properly consulted in the permitting process, a right that is established in federal law and the importance of which was recently cited in a speech by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. If the permit is not extended, a lengthy new feasibility study would be required, giving both native and non-native landowners the opportunity to make their voices and opposition to the tar sands projects heard. Goldtooth and Meisel stressed that tar sands extraction is a vicious process that lays waste to pristine boreal wilderness, endangers wildlife, and is also destructive to human health and society as well. The increase in violence against women near the “man camps” similar projects have already created is a serious problem that bears consideration in the approval process.
Sara Shor, 350.org Keystone XL Campaign Manager, pointed out that Mitch McConnell, who will be Senate Majority Leader in 2015, has pledged to bring up another vote to approve the Keystone XL. We can expect such a bill to be tied to must-pass legislation in the manner seen with partisan give-away riders that were attached to the so-called CRomnibus bill in early December. Any such action, in addition to events unfolding in Nebraska and South Dakota, could trigger calls for activists to participate in anti-KXL actions all across the country and at very short notice. The NoKXL Pledge of Resistance, for instance, is prepared to engage in broadly distributed acts of civil disobedience as soon as the decision lands on the President’s desk. Asked what would happen if, despite all the efforts to oppose the Keystone XL, President Obama does approve the pipeline, Shor replied, “All hell will break loose. This pipeline is not getting built.”
Emboldened by the success of efforts to defeat Mary Landrieu’s last minute legislative maneuvers, opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline such as 350.org and their allies are confident that they have the know-how to handle whatever is thrown at them in the next 2 to 3 months, and they are calling on like-minded folks to join them and build their capacity for effective grassroots action. Visit any of the following websites for more information and to offer your support.
350.org – Stop Keystone XL Team: http://350.org/kxlteam
Bold Nebraska: http://boldnebraska.org
Indigenous Environmental Network: http://nokxldakota.org
NoKXL Pledge of Resistance: http://nokxl.org
At the Seattle Westin today, Al Gore spoke to a full banquet room at a fundraiser for Jay Inslee. Gore offered praise for the Washington Governor’s much vaunted plan to combat global warming. Inslee has proposed putting a price on carbon, improving public transportation, encouraging energy efficiency, and increasing use of solar power and electric cars. It remains to be seen how much of this agenda can come to fruition with Republicans still in control of the State Senate.
Nonetheless, it is worth noting that taking a strong stand on addressing the climate crisis has now become an effective campaign fundraising technique. Not so long ago, such a topic would have earned barely a mention from an elected official with such a high profile as Inslee. Gore, author of An Inconvenient Truth, Earth in the Balance, and other books calling for action to address climate change as well as founder of The Climate Reality Project, called Washington’s Governor the best of all U.S. governors on this critically important issue.
While giving a nod to the importance of fully funding education as mandated by the McCleary decision, Inslee spoke at length about his plans to find “market-driven” solutions to the problem of reducing carbon emissions, telling the crowd of likely Democratic donors the importance of seeing the current crisis as not just a danger to be averted but as an opportunity for Washington State to lead the nation and the world in 21st Century green energy technologies, drawing on our State’s history as a leader in the aerospace and software industries. Gore recited a familiar litany of dire predictions of climate chaos, but he also pivoted to a more hopeful message: the cost of clean energy technologies is dropping at rates much faster than predicted just five years ago. When the former Vice President spoke of the lower cost and higher efficiency of solar panels, a couple at my table who had recently installed solar panels on their home gave each other a quiet high-five. (They also told me that homeowners buying solar panels from a Washington State based company can look to having the cost recouped in the form of lower power bills in no more than five years.)
But while Gore and Inslee were inspirational, the star of the day was 9 year-old Abby Snodgrass, a member of Plant for the Planet, who has taken it upon herself to help in the effort to plant “a thousand billion trees”. She believes children planting one million trees in every country on earth could offset CO2 emissions all on their own, while adults are still talking about doing it. Each tree binds a CO2 intake of 10 kg per year. Abby called on all the adults to follow her example and choose not to be a bystander just because the climate problem seems too big to solve. Abby is right. The message of the day is that we will never solve the problem of global warming by doing nothing. The scope of the problem requires all of us to work together. The plan put forward by Governor Inslee won’t solve the problem by itself, but like Abby planting dozens of trees, it’s a meaningful step in the right direction.