Only four people gave public testimony in front of the Washington State Senate's Energy, Environment, and Telecommunications Committee today about a bill that would prohibit the state from taking any executive action on greenhouse gas emissions. Madeline Goodwin, who graduated from college in 2014 at the ripe old age of 17, was the only woman and only person born after 1990 who spoke.
She was also the only person who chastised the sponsors of the bill.
"I was somewhat startled when I heard about this bill," Goodwin told legislators, "because I had been under the impression that Washington was a little more progressive in their environmental policy than to introduce a bill that would prevent us from taking action on such an important global issue."
The backdrop to today's testimony: Last year, after oil industry-backed Republicans stonewalled any attempt at climate policymaking, Governor Jay Inslee decided to use his executive authority to direct the Department of Ecology to promulgate a rule capping the state's carbon emissions. So this session, two state senators—including the chair of the Senate Energy, Environment, and Telecommunications Committee himself—are trying to block Inslee's move. If passed, Senate Bill 6173 would prevent any state action to limit carbon emissions without the legislative process, where Republicans and their effective senate majority are happy to make sure that the state doesn't do anything about climate change whatsoever.
Two of the people who testified in support of the Republicans' bill, Brandon Housekeeper of the Association of Washington Business and Frank Holmes of the Western States Petroleum Association, argued that a cap on carbon emissions would destroy Washington jobs. Senator Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale), the main sponsor of the bill and the chair of the committee, even went so far as to suggest that people would end up killing themselves or committing domestic violence if a carbon cap went into effect—allegedly because of increased joblessness. (Senator John McCoy, the Democrat from Tulalip, however, suggested that the threat of lost jobs has been used to justify pretty much any argument ever.)
Ericksen then grilled a representative from Climate Solutions about how Washington's carbon cap would affect global climate change. He wanted the number of degrees Washington's action alone would cut on a global scale—which anyone familiar with the basic concepts of climate science knows is not the point.
After the testimony from Climate Solutions, it was Goodwin's turn to speak. "What you as our legislators need to understand is that [climate] is a very complex system and we need to incorporate all aspects of climate action," she shot back, "not just the ones that seem like the low-hanging fruit or the ones that will have nice, neat numbers to support them."
It's doubtful that much got through to Ericksen, who, from what's been posted on his public Facebook page, appears to be preoccupied with limiting trans people's rights, books like "The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels," and Donald Trump.
Check out the bill here.