By JESSICA KOSKI
Last year’s landmark Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) proved that Washington does not need to choose between a healthy environment and a robust economy.
Hailed as a “monumental victory” by Mark Riker, Executive Secretary of the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, CETA commits the state to 100 percent clean energy by 2045 and incentivizes high labor standards like prevailing wage, apprenticeship utilization, preferred hire for women and minority-owned businesses, and the use of project labor or community workforce agreements.
For 2020, the BlueGreen Alliance is excited to build on this momentum and to endorse four priorities that similarly embody a win-win for workers and the environment:
Buy Clean and Buy Fair
HB 2744 (Rep. Doglio) directs state agencies to consider suppliers’ greenhouse gas emissions when purchasing structural materials for publicly-funded infrastructure projects and increases transparency around labor practices. This levels the playing field for responsible manufacturers that have invested in emissions reduction technologies, supporting the twin goals of promoting high workforce standards in manufacturing and cutting carbon pollution.
Climate Pollution Limits
HB 2311 (Rep. Slater) SB 6272 (Sen. Das) take the critical step of updating Washington’s greenhouse gas limits to reflect current science. The BlueGreen Alliance further urges legislators to seize HB 2311 and SB 6272 as an opportunity to establish—unambiguously—the state’s commitment to a fair and just transition away from fossil fuels. In laying the foundation for Washington’s future climate action, it is critical to not only be clear about our end goal but also how we plan to get there doing right by workers and communities—by centering efforts around impacted workers and frontline communities.
Safe Train Crew Size
More than 1 million barrels of oil are transported across Washington by rail each week. Many oil trains have only one operator—even trains that are over a mile long. This presents a major public safety hazard and environmental threat. With support from both the Environmental Priorities Coalition and the Washington State Labor Council, HB 1841 (Rep. Riccelli) and SB 5877 (Sen. Kuderer) establish minimum crew sizes for trains carrying oil and other hazardous materials to mitigate this risk. Adequate staffing is vital for accident prevention and enabling fast responses when things do go wrong.
Safe transmission and distribution of natural gas
HB 2518 (Rep. Shewmake) supports utilities in addressing the growing challenge of methane leaks in the natural gas distribution system—the pipes carrying natural gas to our homes and businesses—by increasing utilities’ certainty regarding cost recovery, instituting reporting on leaks, and incorporating that data into Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory. Repairing leaks curbs methane pollution—an extremely potent greenhouse gas—while creating family-sustaining jobs.
Achieving ambitious action on climate change requires a broad-based coalition that includes labor and environmental justice organizations. The Washington BlueGreen Alliance is thrilled at the chance to champion these four policies that grow this collaboration by simultaneously addressing the climate crisis and economic fairness. We are also a proud supporter of the Climate Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy legislative agenda.
To learn more, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica Koski is the Washington State Policy Coordinator for the BlueGreen Alliance, which unites America’s largest labor unions and its most influential environmental organizations to solve today’s environmental challenges in ways that create and maintain quality jobs and build a stronger, fairer economy.