This week the state Legislature passed a much talked about $16.1 billion transportation bill. This should be a reason to celebrate, but at the behest of the oil industry, the bill includes a “poison pill” that basically handcuffs the state from taking action to lower the carbon intensity of our fuels. I’m worried by how the poison pill seems to be casually ignored by most of the Legislature. Case in point, House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Judy Clibborn said a vote for the transportation package is “a vote for the future.” This begs the question. What kind of future? A bright future is surely not one where big oil maintains its vice-grip over policy decisions. Big oil has seemingly unlimited cash to spend on lobbying and elections, and that is why I believe the Legislature is doing their bidding to pass policy that keeps us hooked on their polluting, planet-warming product. Research shows that America’s youth are increasingly using alternatives to driving, like transit and biking. And yet, the Legislature just poured $8.8 billion into building more massive road projects. This will create a wasted future. I will say that a few of our representatives, namely Matt Shea and Joe Fitzgibbon, voted what I believe to be the right way on this bill. But it passed the Senate with a 37-7 vote. That’s evidence to me that appeasing big oil, instead of creating a better tomorrow for our kids, is front of mind in Olympia.
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