Thank you, Gov. Inslee, for holding these hearings. Your leadership on the environment and climate change is well known and very much appreciated by Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action(PSARA), the people of Washington State and people around the country.
I am speaking on behalf of PSARA. Our organization works to unite generations for a secure future, a future that includes: adequate & dependable income; comprehensive, affordable health care, including prescription drug coverage; access to affordable housing, transportation, and social services and support for our family care-giving responsibilities.
PSARA believes that fighting climate change is tightly bound together with working for social justice. We need more jobs and we need to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels. This is not a contradiction. In 2013 we should not be told it is either jobs or the environment. We need to move past this false divide.
To both slow the advance of climate change and to mitigate its devastating effects, we need much more investment in the public infrastructure – keeping up what we have in the ways of bridges and tunnels and investing in more diverse public transportation to make moving around both efficient and affordable for everyone. We also need a “smart” energy grid that allows the efficient use of alternative energy sources. We need energy efficient housing, both private and public housing affordable to all of our communities.
We need more well-paying sustainable jobs in this state, jobs that produce high social benefit. Many of those jobs already exist and there are thousands of them, many in sectors we might not think of as ‘green’. They are the caregivers for children and the elderly, food workers, teachers, and maintenance workers. These workers deserve to be paid a living wage so they can support their families and contribute to our economy in WA. That is why raising the minimum wage is actually a green strategy.
We need fair trade policies that protect workers’ rights and protect the environment. We need to reject Free-Trade Agreements such as the TPP which encourage uncontrolled extraction and selling of collective natural resources for shareholder profits at the cost of people and our planet.
Fossil fuel companies need to pay for the damage they have done and continue to do. That means taxing fossil fuels and ending the handsome subsidies the companies receive. This would make available the funds to build the infrastructure we need and pay living wages to all workers. It would also help to make the world livable and healthy for our children and grandchildren and future generations.