Save us from ourselves, effective climate policy!
Save us from ourselves, effective climate policy! KAMILPETRAN/GETTY IMAGES

Everyone was screaming about the carbon fee last fall. The voter tug-of-war between the Yes on 1631 (yay carbon fee) and No on 1631 (carbon fees are the devil ~xoxo Big Oil) didn't turn out great for the environment.

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Washington voters aligned resolutely against I-1631. The initiative lost by a sizable 13.1 percent.

That was dismal. Take it from me and the Yes on 1631 election night party I attended that should have come with a whiplash warning. But, there's hope.

There are three climate policies being introduced into the legislative session this go-around: 100% Clean, a clean fuel standard, and a clean buildings proposal.

And Washington voters are in favor of them.

The carbon fee was marketed as the hail Mary pass to save the climate. If we didn't act as of November 8, 2018, we were doomed. It seemed, from the voter turnout, that we were destined for death in the climate change smorgasbord of warming seas and rising sea levels, non-consensual choking from poor air quality, the catalyzation of more cataclysmic events, and a slew of other bullshit.

All we got out of 1631 was an overwhelming sense of defeat and the most expensive ballot initiative in Washington history thanks to the $31 million raised by out-of-state oil companies. A whopping 92 percent of Washington voters had heard something about I-1631. That's unprecedented for a ballot initiative. But, money can do that.

Climate One pollster Dave Metz surveyed Washington voters immediately after the midterm election. Today, at a briefing by Climate Solutions, he spoke about the voter reaction to 1631.

"The objections were not objections to climate action broadly, but the specific mechanics of how 1631 would work," Metz said, "or how the 'no' side would claim it would work."

According to polls, 65 percent of voters said they would support climate policy that will have a state reach.

"It's notable how intense the support for that policy is—47 percent," Metz said. Almost half of the Washington electorate supports climate policies. They are as follows:

100% Clean: It's what it sounds like—wean Washington off coal and carbon; support renewable energy. The goal is to get Washington coal-free by 2025 and using 100 percent clean energy by 2045.

Clean fuel standard: This is all about clean transportation and cleaning up our fuel sources, maybe getting some biofuel in the mix. The entire western seaboard except Washington has clean fuel programs.

"It's a well-tested, tried-and-true program implemented in B.C., Oregon, and California," said Vlad Guttman, the Washington director of Climate Solutions. "Washington is, unfortunately, the donut hole."

Clean buildings proposal: Buildings represent 27 percent of Washington emissions and their emissions are increasing. The clean buildings proposal would renew and upgrade existing buildings, accelerate innovation for new buildings, and, ultimately, work toward energy efficiency and reduced energy usage.

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These proposed policies are headed to the Legislature come Monday. The organizers supporting these policies and the policymakers who have signed onto them like Sen. Reuven Carlyle and Rep. Gael Tarleton are optimistic.

"I think what we’ve seen is a real recognition from our legislature that over the last several years they haven’t done enough to combat climate change," Guttman said. "About a month ago, Gov. Jay Inslee stood up with Carlyle and Tarleton and Sen. Saldaña and others. They announced that they have unprecedented alignment between both chambers and the executive office, that these policies are at the forefront of the legislative session."

"We feel good but not self-assured that this can get done," Guttman continued. "There's lots of work and debate to be done. But, we have the legislative appetite and constituent appetite to get this across the finish line."