Caring for God's People and God's Planet
Clean Energy and Equity for Washington
All religious traditions teach a version of the Golden Rule. This means we are called to treat all people with respect and to build strong communities, a just society, and a better world for our children. A corollary to the Golden Rule is the Green Rule. We believe that the world is a gift from God, and the well-being of each of us is completely dependent on clean air, clean water, and healthy ecosystems. We care for the Earth as we would care for our families and our communities, both to honor our Creator and to leave our children a safe and healthy planet.
When the United States pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, people of faith in Washington realized that it is up to us to reduce carbon pollution and limit the harmful effects o climate change. We can protect our health, our region, and our economy by putting a price on pollution while also caring for God's creation by investing in clean, efficient energy. In our state, the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, a group of faith, social justice, labor, business, environmental, and health advocates, has come together to create and effective and fair energy policy for transitioning to a clean fuel economy.
An Equitable Climate Action Policy follows the Green Rule
The policy drafted by the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy will:
- Invest in renewable energy, healthy forests, and water infrastructure to reduce pollution and address the frightening impacts of climate change in Washington
- Pay for these investments with a flexible price on climate pollution that is linked to how well our state is reducing dangerous greenhouse gasses
- Create many good jobs while protecting communities suffering from pollution
- Ensure the poorest places - hurt most by dirty fuels - receive a substantial share of clean energy, forest, and water investments
- Provide financial protection for low-income families through the creation of a cash grant program
- Offer support to workers and communities now dependent on destructive industries so they can shift smoothly to a flourishing green energy economy
Price the Pollution, Fund the Solutions
Right now, dirty industries use our shared atmosphere to dump their pollution. We expect regular citizens to pay for garbage disposal, so we should expect that coal, oil, and fracked gas companies pay their fair share for dumping carbon into Washington's clean air. The health effects of this smog, especially on the poor and children in polluted areas is a violation of the Green Rule and an affront to our Creator. A carbon tax will reduce this pollution while generating income to invest in the future of our region and protect the most vulnerable.
A Clean Energy Transition
A full 70% of investment funds from a carbon tax will promote the transition to a clean energy economy. Right now there are many more jobs in solar power in the US than there are in coal, and that percentage is growing rapidly. With money from this tax on pollution, our state can invest in wind farms, community solar, conservation, smart grids, and other green infrastructure. By taxing dirty and destructive industries, we can invest in our children’s future and our region’s health and prosperity.
Jobs created through this policy will be high-quality, family wage jobs that sustain communities and support a fair shift for workers employed in fossil fuel industries to the reliable green industries of the future. New jobs will be created, such as ones for solar installers, workers making carbon fiber for clean cars, public transit drivers, wind turbine technicians, building retrofitters, and all the staff who support these positions. Most of these jobs cannot be outsourced.
Meanwhile, coal, oil, and fracked gas poison our drinking water and air with dangerous chemicals and reward Wall Street speculation rather than responsible investment. Funding clean energy keeps jobs in our communities, protects God’s creation, and works for the common good – it’s the moral choice.
Protection for Disproportionately Impacted Communities
Caring for our neighbors is a deeply held religious value. Under this proposal, the state will analyze, monitor, and mitigate the cumulative impacts of pollution that disproportionately burden communities of color, and will ensure investment in projects that benefit communities that need it most. In addition, the program will reduce impacts on low-income families through the creation of cash grant programs.
Clean and Abundant Water
Adaptation to climate change already underway is also important – 20% of the investment funds will promote clean and abundant water, helping farmers and rural communities stave off the worst effects of climate change. This money will pay for restoration of shorelines and estuaries to save endangered salmon and help protect against sea level rise and storm surges. Both rural and urban centers will benefit from investment in water conservation and storage, storm water management, flood control, and irrigation efficiency.
The remaining 10% of funds from a carbon tax will be invested in maintaining healthy forests that support clean air, wildlife, and tourism. Larger trees are more resilient against the wildfires that have plagued our state and are better able to pull dirty carbon out of our atmosphere. This fund will give our state money for wildfire prevention, suppression, and community preparedness on behalf of small towns, farms, and ranches that border Washington’s great forests.
Religious Values Matter
Religious leaders support the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy and the 2018 initiative to put a price on pollution in Washington because it upholds the Golden Rule. Together we will hold destructive industries accountable and build an economy that works for all. We strongly support the proposed initiative since it will solve a serious pollution problem, protect our families’ health, invest in a high-quality of life, and help us plan for a prosperous future. A price on carbon pollution and investment in Washington’s future honors our religious commitment to care for God’s creation and our human need to leave a better world for future generations.