As an elected official with decades of experience as a community organizer, if I’ve learned one thing it’s that true equity and justice are never won alone. No matter the issue, no matter the odds stacked against us, if we come together in true partnership there’s nothing we can’t achieve.
That’s why I’m so proud today to be working to pass I-1631, Washington’s initiative fighting for clean air and clean energy for all. This campaign came together after years of work between dozens of organizations. It wasn’t easy, but it took everyone being willing to reach out, listen and adapt to what they heard. The result is incredible: the broadest, most diverse coalition that we’ve ever put together for an initiative in our state. It includes groups like the Washington State Labor Council, One America, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Got Green, Washington Environmental Council, Asian Pacific Islander Coalition, and more than 200 organizations who are working to address the deep crisis of climate change while putting – front and center – those communities who are disproportionately impacted by the effects of pollution and climate change. This is the coalition we have been waiting for, the kind of coalition that stretches the breadth of our state and reaches into every community to say that we stand united and resolute in protecting the health of our families and our communities.
Here’s the simple fact: the health of our children and families should not be determined by what zip code you live in. You should have clean air to breath and clean water to drink no matter where you live. We also know that fighting climate change means taking on some of the biggest oil companies like Exxon, Shell and BP, who just want to protect their own bottom line – even if it means our children have higher rates of asthma, our water is no longer clean to drink, or our fossil fuels keep coming out of the ground when we should instead be moving to a sustainable, renewable energy economy that provides more jobs, better jobs, and safer jobs for all our workers.
In Congress, I formed an environmental justice task force and I’ve introduced a bill to help us get to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Federal action on climate change, however, is going to take some time – and this crisis is too urgent to wait. That’s why I’m so proud to endorse I-1631, an initiative that will continue Washington’s great tradition of blazing the trails for justice across the country.
I-1631 will clean up the mess of pollution by putting a fee on Washington’s largest polluters. It will invest in clean energy, transportation alternatives, good jobs and our state’s natural resources. And, equally important, it will make sure that the communities most affected by pollution and climate change will have the resources they need to deal with those burdens. I-1631 will finally start to reduce the pollution that we know makes us sick and is damaging our climate.
As a long-time community organizer, an API immigrant woman of color, and a member of Congress, I know that when we stand together, we are always stronger than corporate money and the false choices they might try to present. You CAN and must stand all at once for workers and jobs, for a strong economy and a renewable energy future, for clean air and clean water, for our planet and our kids’ futures.
Earlier this month, I-1631 organizers – with support from my campaign’s field organizers – turned in over 375,000 signatures from every corner of our state to qualify for the November ballot. Now, it’s up to us. If we want clean air, clean water and health families, we are going to have to work every single day from now until the election to do everything we can to educate our communities across the state about how much this is going to help our economy, our health, and our environment. To win, we will need YOU. So please, join me – and let’s do everything we can to pass I-1631 in Washington state!
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal represents Washington’s 7th District — including Seattle, Vashon Island, Edmonds, Shoreline, Kenmore, parts of Burien, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, and Normandy Park — in the House of Representatives.