As the bright full moon set and the pre-dawn fog lifted to reveal a crisp and clear February morning, nearly 80 supporters arrived in Olympia to participate in meetings scheduled with legislators in 22 districts across the state. Traveling largely by carpool, participants arrived ready to talk to their legislators about the importance of taking climate action and request endorsements for I-732.
Ellie Gittelman from Mercer Island said, “Climate change is far and away the number one issue that people should care about. I came to Olympia to show my legislative representatives why they should support this.”
Carbon Washington’s Lobby Day was designed to further inform lawmakers about I-732, supplementing recent hearings in the House Finance and Environmental committees with personal stories from constituents across the state. Lysandra Medal and Chris Winardi, graduate students in civil engineering at the University Washington, came to Olympia to learn more about how they can make a difference.
“We need to find solutions based on renewable energy, rather than continue to rely on technology advancements,” said Lysandra. Added Chris: “We’re so used to relying on fossil fuels that we’re using it as a crutch rather than taking more action toward using renewable energy.” Christian Van Waasen, a UW graduate student in architecture is interested in finding new ways to incentivize developers to choose different materials with lower carbon footprints — for example, locally produced wood and steel versus concrete.
Building on the support of hundreds of thousands of citizens across the state, Lobby Day reinforced the active grassroots nature of the campaign. Supporters in every corner of the room in “The Castle” met and connected with others in their district, pouring over the printed materials to deepen their understanding of the issues. Questions like, “should we use the word tax?” to “what’s going on with I-732B” were discussed and debated, and people who were strangers only moments before sat together to conduct mock interviews and get ready to meet their legislators face-to-face.
While some Lobby Day participants were met with opposition, many legislators expressed interest in learning more, while others offered support for the initiative. Eleanor Hungate, an economist, and Sara Cate, a physician — both from Yakima — came to Olympia to make sure their legislators understand why this issue is so important for Central Washington. Both of their legislators, Rep. Gina McCabe (R) and Sen. Curtis King (R) agreed to review the materials, with Rep. McCabe offering to discuss I-732 with a bipartisan business group she created comprised of elected representatives who own small businesses.
Brian Anderson of Climate Action Bainbridge said his legislator, Sen. Christine Rolfes (D), offered to follow up with the OFM to get a response to Carbon WA’s points of disagreement on the fiscal note. Speaking about his meeting with Rep. Judy Clibborn (D), George Reynoldson of Sammamish said he was impressed by her thoughtfulness and interest in hearing his perspective.
Pictured at right: Bob Ellis, Ellie Gittelman, and George Reynoldson
Ultimately, Lobby Day was an important opportunity to ask legislators to take action. Peter Dufault, a teacher from Eastern Washington said, “We are an agriculturally based economy and we are already seeing how climate change is impacting our community. I came to Olympia to influence my representative to take action on the most important issue for my generation and generations to come.”
Joel Carlson, from Olympia Confronting the Climate Crisis and a member of the Sierra Club, echoed this sentiment. “We have an emergency with fossil fuels and global warming. We have a short time to act before methane gets released into a loop and can’t be corrected.”
Bob Ellis, who taught middle and high school on Mercer Island, summed it up. “Time is running out to fix the most regressive tax system in the country while addressing climate change. I-732 provides a constructive and practical response to both of these issues.”
Thanks to everyone who came to Lobby Day in support of I-732. Your support makes a difference!