Yes on I-1631 turns in signatures at press conference
Yes on I-1631 turns in signatures at press conference

Edi­tor’s Note: This morn­ing, The Seat­tle Times announced its oppo­si­tion to Ini­tia­tive 1631, the ground­break­ing mea­sure to put a price on pol­lu­tion and use the pro­ceeds to fund a just and respon­si­ble tran­si­tion to a clean ener­gy econ­o­my. Found­ing NPI board­mem­ber Gael Tar­leton had this to say in response.

The Seat­tle Times has reporters who are some of the nation’s best jour­nal­ists inves­ti­gat­ing the scale and impacts of cli­mate change.

I wish that the edi­to­r­i­al board had weighed the excep­tion­al work of their own inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists to make their endorse­ment rec­om­men­da­tion on Ini­tia­tive 1631. Instead, the board rec­om­mends a “no” vote. It argues that the mea­sure fails the “account­abil­i­ty” test because an “un-elect­ed board appoint­ed by the Gov­er­nor would pro­pose” how to spend the $1 billion+/year in pol­lu­tion fees.

Here’s the deal: this nation, state, and our local gov­ern­ments changed the rules forty plus years ago about giv­ing pub­lic mon­ey to unelect­ed boards to spend.

It’s how we run gov­ern­ment today. Elect­ed offi­cials in Con­gress, state leg­is­la­tures, and city and coun­ty coun­cils and com­mis­sions send bil­lions of dol­lars to non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions. Those non­prof­its have unelect­ed boards. They spend pub­lic mon­ey on health, hous­ing, edu­ca­tion, and oth­er pub­lic ser­vices that used to be pro­vid­ed exclu­sive­ly by the pub­lic sec­tor, specif­i­cal­ly by pub­lic agencies.

The Seat­tle Times makes a real­ly lame argu­ment that our bal­lot mea­sure to com­bat cli­mate change has an “unelect­ed board” spend­ing the pub­lic’s money.

No, it does­n’t. The board that I‑1631 would cre­ate pro­pos­es projects to the gov­er­nor. The state leg­is­la­ture appro­pri­ates the mon­ey. Just like always.

The pow­er of the purse rests with the elect­ed Legislature.

Don’t fall for this false argu­ment that “unelect­ed boards” should­n’t be spend­ing your mon­ey. Non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions with unelect­ed boards have been spend­ing your mon­ey for decades with very min­i­mal account­abil­i­ty to any elect­ed body.

This argu­ment is spe­cious — the edi­to­r­i­al board rais­es an issue that is periph­er­al to the real impact of this bal­lot measure.

The entire edi­to­r­i­al reads like a “busi­ness as usu­al is good enough” trea­tise. It implies there is no urgency to tack­le the cli­mate cri­sis and its many ramifications.

It makes me wish I had spent my entire endorse­ment inter­view mak­ing the case for the edi­to­r­i­al board to rec­om­mend a “Yes on I‑1631.”

Instead, I am mak­ing my case to the voters.

Please vote YES on I‑1631 to help our state urgent­ly tack­le cli­mate change to pro­tect our peo­ple and every com­mu­ni­ty, rur­al and urban, farms and forests, fish and orcas, as we con­front the great­est threat to our econ­o­my and way of life.

Please vote yes to doing what we can, right now, for the next decade, to pro­tect future gen­er­a­tions. It’s time to sprint.

About the author

Gael Tarleton is an NPI Advisory Councilmember and former Washington State Representative who led two Russian subsidiaries during the 1990s and lserved as a senior defense intelligence analyst on Soviet strategic nuclear programs at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency from 1981-1990. She served on NPI's board from its inception through 2021.

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