Submitted by Ben Silesky, Field Organizer, Audubon Washington
The Puget Sound area is known for its rainy days, but when community organizers from the National Audubon Society traveled to Pierce County from across the county to help get the word out about why we need to put a price on carbon, they weren’t expecting the “Juneuary” deluge we had last weekend. Braving the weather, umbrellas in hand, they ventured out to talk to participants of Tacoma Ocean-Fest, attendees at the Tacoma Musical Playhouse Food Truck Festival, and visitors to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium to spread the word that we must take action now to address our changing climate.
Initiative 1631 is a ballot measure that would impose a pollution fee on coal, oil, and gas burned or sold in Washington State. Passage of this initiative would lead to the reduction of over 50 million metric tons of carbon by 2050, the equivalent of removing more than 10 million cars off the road. Revenue from I-1631 will help our state invest in clean air, clean water, healthy forests, and clean energy projects that facilitate the transition away from fossil fuels and protect vulnerable communities from climate impacts. This transition will have tremendous local economic and job growth benefits, especially around renewable energy jobs. To qualify for the November ballot, more than 270,000 valid signatures must be collected by early July.
Most people don’t realize how important Piece County is when it comes to our statewide elections. Pierce County holds the swing votes, with almost every legislative district in the county shared by both Democratic and Republican elected officials. And the majority of voters in the county want climate action. According to Yale climate research, more than 70 percent of Pierce County voters believe global warming is happening and nearly 75 percent of constituents want to regulate CO2 as a pollutant. Yet, as I’ve learned as a field organizer for previous climate action campaigns and now for Audubon Washington, it can be tricky for people to understand how climate policies can help address important local issues like healthcare, economic opportunity and social justice. That’s why it’s so important that we meet firsthand with people to discuss the issues, answer questions and listen to their concerns.
We like to say at Audubon that we’re the bird people, and the solutions that help birds protect people too. Audubon science shows that climate change is the number one threat to North American birds, including 189 species at risk here in Washington. Audubon Washington and many of its 25 chapter across the state, including the Tahoma Audubon Society, support I-1631 because we want the birds we see and love today to be there for future generations.
Our canvassing work in Pierce County continues throughout the rest of the week, thankfully under sunnier skies. We’ll be at the Tacoma Broadway Farmers Market on Thursday and Puyallup Meeker Days Festival on Friday and Saturday. If you see us at a community event, please stop by and say hello. We’d love to talk to you about how we can protect birds and people by taking climate action now.
If you’re ready to take action, we hope you’ll sign up to help us fight climate change. And, if you want to get involved in local canvassing activities and signature gathering for I-1631, feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.