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Why We Urge the Washington State Legislature to Pass a Carbon Tax Now

Audubon Washington believes the carbon tax bills currently in front of the state legislature present an immediately viable solution to funding key state priorities such as education and other social services while reducing carbon emissions which contribute to climate change and creating new economic opportunities.

Seattle, WA (June 9, 2017)—Governor Jay Inslee recently called the state legislature back to Olympia for a second special session because our elected officials still have not reached agreement on a biennial budget. At stake is funding for key state priorities such as K-12 education and other services our children and communities depend on.

As the state legislature continues to struggle to come to agreement on a 2017-2019 state operating budget, it remains in contempt of the state Supreme Court’s 2012 McCleary decision, which ruled that Washington state was violating its constitution by underfunding schools. To spur action on this urgent matter, in August 2015 the court imposed a $100,000 daily fine on the state – a fine that remains in effect to this day.

Fortunately, there’s something our state legislature can do right now that offers a new revenue source AND protects the environment for birds and people: pass a carbon tax.

“We have a moral responsibility to protect our birds, our children, and future generations from the adverse effects of climate change,” said Gail Gatton, executive director of Audubon Washington. “We can’t afford to wait any longer before we take action. Our state legislators have a golden opportunity in front of them right now to show bipartisan leadership by passing a carbon tax. Doing so would set much-needed precedent for other states to follow. This is how change starts.”

Climate change is the biggest threat facing birds and people today. The impacts of climate change are already are being felt through drought, intense forest fires, and changing ocean conditions in Washington state—and throughout the Pacific Flyway.

Audubon’s groundbreaking Birds and Climate Change Report details how rising temperatures threaten or endanger 314 North American bird species. In Washington state, 189 species of birds are at risk. Birds have specific sets of environmental requirements governed by climate and, during the past 50 years, more than 60 percent of wintering North American bird species have shifted their winter ranges northward. Soon, they may have nowhere left to go.

Putting a price on carbon emissions in Washington state will provide a source of funding for key state priorities while reducing the carbon pollution that is causing climate change.

Passing a carbon tax is the perfect opportunity for our state legislature to address lingering budget woes and take action against climate change. It’s a win-win solution and we urge Washington state legislators on both sides of the political aisle to work together to pass a carbon tax during this legislative session.

Established in 1981, Audubon Washington works statewide with its 25 independent chapters and 26,000 members on the conservation of the sagebrush shrub steppe ecosystem in Eastern Washington, protection of coastal estuaries, and actions that address climate change, the number one threat to birds today. Through the Seward Park Audubon Center, we provide science, nature and environmental education programs for youth and families. Learn more how to help at and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


Gail Gatton, Executive Director, Audubon Washington, 206-652-2444
Samara Villasenor, GreatWork Strategic Communications, 425-255-0890

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