The Seattle City Council unanimously passed legislation that would establish a Green New Deal Oversight Board.
The board will lay out how to follow and implement a GND, which is an extensive list of environmentally conscious goals. The board will advise all city departments and make sure that they are following the tenets of the GND and the overarching goal of reducing the city's greenhouse gas emissions and, ultimately, eliminating climate pollution by 2030.
A point of discussion among the city council was how many people and who would make up the board.
The board as it stands, including a new amendment proposed by Council Member Lisa Herbold to add two more labor representatives, will be made up of 19 people. There will be 11 representatives of environmental justice organizations and communities impacted directly by climate change. Additionally, "three people with professional backgrounds in climate pollution reduction strategies, two labor union representatives, and a workforce development specialist," according to 350 Seattle, one of the groups responsible for putting forward the GND proposal.
Council Member Abel Pacheco proposed an informal amendment to add four more positions that would give "philanthropy and tech" seats on the board. It was received poorly.
"This amendment focuses on adding big business representatives including representatives from Amazon," Council Member Kshama Sawant said. "Big businesses do not need more power." She elaborated that these businesses are partially to blame for the climate crisis we're experiencing now and compared the amendment to the White House appointing coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
"We cannot have the fox guarding the henhouse," Sawant said.
Pacheco defended his proposal by saying the organizations he had identified "had done good work."
Several other council members rejected the amendment. Council Member Lorena Gonzalez also mentioned that she was concerned with how big this board was getting. The proposed amendment would have seen 22 people on the board.
Pacheco ultimately pulled his proposal, declining to make it a formal amendment. "I can read the writing on the wall," he said.
Council Member Mike O'Brien, who has championed the GND legislation, thanked community members once the legislation passed.
"I am eternally grateful for the community members’ work on this," O'Brien said. "As you can see, it’s not easy work and this is the easiest of the work that is to come."
The proposal passed unanimously. Additionally, Sawant's legislation to support the youth-led climate strike happening on Friday, September 20, passed unanimously.
"Young people are correct to be outraged and have no choice to take action... Seattle Public Schools should stand with the global climate justice movement," Sawant said, "and excuse students so they can participate in the global climate strike on September 20."
Friday's climate strike will be at Cal Anderson Park from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Young people as well as tech workers from Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft have agreed to strike.