The Stand

Big Oil tried to slip us a roofie at hearing for clean energy jobs bill

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By ROBERTA RILEY
and JULIE GONZALES-CORBIN


(April 11, 2017) — On our recent road trip to Olympia, we felt like Rolling Stone reporters who’d discovered a beautiful new kind of music: A chorus of voices, never before assembled on the same stage, calling for climate protections, polluter accountability, and a clean energy transition to bring jobs and prosperity to Washington state.

In this era of partisanship and division, it was music to our ears. How refreshing it was to hear union leaders and environmental activists singing together, with backup vocals from people of diverse communities, backgrounds and political stripes.

They rocked a big hearing room that was packed to the brim, with crowds overflowing into a couple more rooms. For two hours, legislators on the House Environment Committee heard testimony from supporters and opponents of the Clean Energy Transition Act — HB 1646. If passed, this measure would put a price on carbon pollution and reinvest the funds in homegrown clean energy solutions and communities in Washington where people are already being hit the hardest by pollution.

Even the polluters who oppose this measure were singing a new song. Oh sure, they sought fine-tuning over details, but nothing that harshed our mellow. Not a single soul questioned the validity of climate science. That’s remarkable, since the fossil fuel industry has, for decades, spread misinformation and fake science to sow doubt and stall progress — all to protect their own profits. But there in Olympia, with cameras rolling, a fossil fuel industry lobbyist proclaimed, “climate change is an issue that should be addressed!”

Hey! Let’s pop the cork, and clink to a new era!

Not so fast! Big Oil just tried to slip us a roofie. Their fast talking lobbyist testified that climate change should be addressed, but slid in a caveat, “at the national or international level.”

If Big Oil were genuine about addressing climate change at the national or international level, it would do precisely that. After all, fossil fuel industry cronies are now running key parts of the Trump Administration, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and the State Department. Yet on all of these fronts, the Trump Administration is quickly dismantling Obama-era national and international climate protections, and threatens to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a global pact to cut emissions.

So, nice try Big Oil, but you can’t screw us when your pants are on fire.

Actions speak louder than words. We’re on to your new tricks. We said “No, thanks” to that drink and enjoyed the concert. Of all the chords struck, the ones that resonate most are those of two very different people who harmonized gloriously: An Anacortes oil refinery worker and a woman from Whatcom County who advocates for farmworkers.

Neither fits the stereotype of a highly paid lobbyist or even a typical environmentalist. Yet both helped shape the Clean Energy Transition Act. They believe ordinary working people can hold polluters accountable in their own communities. They believe the Evergreen State is a place where we innovate and invest in solutions that lead the world. Stay tuned for their stories. And check out our Climate Adventures Report here!


Roberta Riley and Julie Gonzales-Corbin co-created Climate Adventures, a project dedicated to sharing the stories of people in Washington state who are impacted by climate change and discovering innovative ways to address it. This column originally appeared at Huffington Post and is posted here with the authors’ permission.


ALSO at The Stand:

Why this refinery worker backs Clean Energy Transition Act (by Steve Garey)

Join WSLC at March 14 hearing for Clean Energy Transition Act

 

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