The Peoples Party: A Visionary Environmental Platform
With a federal administration that believes climate change and environmental injustices are a hoax, we are witnessing the expedited destruction of our climate and environment, with the ultimate result being fatal harm to our communities, especially those most marginalized.
There are many initiatives we can implement immediately, which we must do; but we must also look to the future for how we address the harmful climate change we are facing. Through a rigorous and lengthy collective community effort with experts, organizers, and residents, we have created Seattle’s Vision To Achieve Environmental Justice:
100% (Real) Green Energy by 2023
Seattle currently receives about 90% of its electricity through hydroelectric-based energy, which almost always takes the form of dams and man-made infrastructures. Hydroelectric-based energy is part of Seattle’s commitment to carbon-neutral electricity. But there are serious issues to consider that must be addressed by the next mayoral administration:
First, Seattle City Light still receives 10% of its electricity from fossil fuels. (a coal-fire power plant)
Second, many have begun to question the efficacy and benefit of hydroelectricity considering the issues found to be associated with it. One of the biggest issues is the disruption dams cause to our ecology and natural water sources. Studies have found that salmon have been hit the hardest by the effects and show a decrease in population in waters that have been tampered with by dams. A second issue is the greenhouse gas emission from dam reservoirs that harm our climate and speed up the global warming we are experiencing. We have to dedicate resources to conduct a thorough study of the detrimental effects of dams to our environment and find quick and effective ways to eliminate these dangers. Time is not on our side, so we must move swiftly.
For the reasons outlined above, we believe that we have to be diligent in not relying on our laurels of being a “green” city and actually further the work of accomplishing a real, 100% green energy city that seeks equitable environmental justice. We will work to rely on wind, solar (on commercial buildings and residential homes) and storage energy to best accomplish these goals.
Air pollution in our Seattle communities and neighborhoods near major freeways or roads witness respiratory illnesses at rates up to 30x greater than other areas in King County. Due to incredibly toxic air, children are growing up with preventable respiratory issues. The data is there, but we must actually do something. I want to work closely with our experts to find ways to limit the exposure to this toxic air as we continue down the path of decreasing vehicle emissions.
Additionally, this is a serious public health issue that predominantly affects cash-poor communities and communities of color throughout King County and in Seattle. Considering the immediacy of the harm affecting our communities and children, it will be a priority of our administration to address this inequity.
Phasing Out Of Diesel & Gas (Combustible) Engine Vehicles by 2040
We are so far behind the curve when it comes to eliminating fossil fuel emissions that its time the city of Seattle takes bold steps. Looking at Paris, France, Britain, and other international cities and countries, we are declaring a phasing out of diesel & gas vehicles by 2040. By that time, the light rail will be fully functional from Everett to Dupont, and past Tacoma. Studies show that by 2025 electric cars will be beyond competitive both in capability and price when compared to diesel and gas cars. Today, vehicles powered by diesel and gas engines are responsible for the majority of carbon pollution in Seattle. If we plan accordingly, we can eliminate these toxins and make our city and region healthier. In order for us to be intentional about how we make a just transition, and leaving no one behind, we’ll need to start planning today. That is why we are calling for a phasing out of diesel & gas engines by 2040. That gives us 23 years of planning to make sure everyone can benefit equitably from the clean energy revolution. We will work closely with neighboring cities and countries along with all Seattle communities, from those most marginalized to those workers in trucking industry. This will ensure we are effectively and equitably moving towards this goal of eliminating carbon emissions in Seattle.
Electric Car Sharing Program for Low Income Communities
In order to make the 2040 phasing out process equitable we want to make sure those most affected will have access to electric cars now. Seattle is electrifying and updated their fleet of vehicles everyday. By using older EVs from Seattle’s fleet, we will explore a discounted electric vehicle (EV) car sharing program, operated by the City. This will make it both affordable and accessible. One way to reach the most disenfranchised communities is by running the car sharing program through Seattle Housing Authority and making EV cars available to those who live in low income housing first.
Divest From Fossil Fuels and Pipelines
Having worked with and being inspired by our powerful indigenous communities to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in Standing Rock, we witnessed the power of our communities coming together to protect Mother Earth. Both on the front lines at Standing Rock and at the Seattle City Council meetings, we witnessed a powerful movement to save our environment through the political power of people to achieve environmental justice. The indigenous leadership focused our attention on the detrimental harm we, as a city, perpetuate by having our monies in financial institutions that invest in and profit from the killing of our planet, whether it is the funding of DAPL or Keystone XL by Wells Fargo or the investment in pipelines and fossil fuel projects by other banks.
We must be deliberate and responsible in how we invest and use city funds to not perpetuate these injustices. Therefore, we commit to work with grassroots organizers, indigenous movements, and our city council to move towards divesting city funds from any institution that benefits, profits, or directly supports fossil fuels and pipelines that harm our land and indigenous communities. We also commit to continue to work with Mazaska Talks and 350Seattle to pursue a municipal bank to ensure we always invest our city funds deliberately and responsibly for the benefit of our communities and Mother Earth.
Energy Efficient Job Training Program
One of the most cost efficient ways to move towards carbon neutrality is by reducing the energy demand through achieving energy efficiency. Seattle’s older homes lose a lot of heat raising energy costs for long-term Seattleites. We want to expand Seattle’s free energy auditing program to all older homes and create rebates for these homes to have energy efficient upgrades. This can be carried out through the Seattle Jobs Initiative that will offer free training for green jobs to low income people.
Improved Transportation Infrastructure and Strategic Urban Density
The housing affordability crisis is a current defining issue for this Mayoral election. Urban sprawl and traffic and congestion leave a huge carbon footprint. As a result, we need to strategically build energy efficient affordable units in those areas where transportation is and will be most robust and accessible. As much as this is an environmental issue and affordability issue, this is an equity issue. Development, strategic density, and transportation infrastructure must move and grow in lock-step with each other and must be made accessible to middle-income and low-income families in order to make our city green, accessible and affordable. As a result, we will:
1) rezone 10-minute walk radiuses around the proposed light rail infill stations and areas where transportation is (going to be) most robust to allow for more density and affordable housing to ensure equitable access to public transportation and the city’s urban core;
2) implement the use of impact fees to provide additional funding for transportation infrastructure; and
3) complete a feasibility study regarding speculation in preparation to put in place a speculator tax revenue for which will go towards the building of public housing.
Free Orca Cards for All Seattle Public Schools Students
We must inspire and instill a culture of utilizing public transportation in our youth, if we are going to achieve carbon neutrality. Teaching our children to use and value public transportation is essential to going “green.” The best time to do this is while they are young and as they get older and have their families they will inspire and instill the same value for public transportation in their children and grandchildren.
If you have been in Seattle’s bus tunnels or alleys then you would not be surprised to know the amount of urine in these public spaces is a public health concern & environmental issue. People living unsheltered in Seattle, as well as people who take public transportation, have no place to urinate when in public and/or on public transit. It is notable, Seattle’s last attempt at public bathrooms created a space for dangerous activity and resulted in a $4.8 million dollar mistake. We propose a biophilic design, that uses nature’s natural abilities to create a closed loop system and does not create a space that can be misused. One example of this was done in San Francisco with bamboo garden toilets. We must follow this trend that will allow us to address a public health hazard without creating a public safety issue.
5% of All Foods Consumed Be Produced in Seattle by 2025
As climate change worsens, food security gets more important. Supporting urban agriculture is a form of climate adaptation as wells as a way to address food security. We want to support community gardens and urban agriculture through setting a goal to produce 5% of the food consumed in Seattle. We achieve this by removing barriers to urban food production, such as the permits needed to plant in planting strips by sidewalks and financially and administratively supporting residents, nonprofits, and commercial spaces to grow food on their land.
Transition Away from Natural Gas Used For Heating Homes
Seattle City Light was the first electric utility in the nation to achieve zero net greenhouse gases, in order to remain a leader in carbon neutrality for the country we need to address the monopoly that natural gas has in heating our homes. We want to explore other options that are carbon neutral and cost effective for home heating.
Bike Programs in Seattle Public Schools
In some places youth learn to drive through school based driver’s education programs. For some of Seattle’s youth they grow up riding bikes with their families. They learn the rules of the road, safety, and bike culture from their parents. For some of Seattle’s youth biking is a hard to access culture. Biking is great opportunity to exercise, get around the city, and decrease our carbon footprint. Similar to encouraging the use of public transportation, teaching children and youth about biking now at school, a place they have to be regularly, we can encourage all youth to exercise, bike safely, and decrease their carbon footprint.
Filters for Stormwater Drain
The Puget Sound’s largest source of pollution is stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is nonpoint source pollution; which means it is not coming from one power plant but rather it is all of us. Putting filters on stormwater drains is one way we can do our part to clean the Puget Sound and protect one of greatest natural resources. Funding for this could come from EPA’s Puget Sound Clean up fund.