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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Bill would help environment, state’s poor

The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel And The Rt. Rev. James E. Waggoner Jr. Special to The Spokesman-Review

As Episcopal bishops in Washington state and as faithful stewards of God’s creation, we understand the devastating impacts that global climate change will have and is already having on human communities around the world. As faithful witnesses to the power of our Christian faith, we hear the call to work together to become healers of God’s creation.

The bishops of our province have asked each individual and each church community to reduce their own carbon footprint and to live more simply. As citizens, we encourage all people of faith to advocate for public policies at local, regional, national and international levels that serve to decrease global warming emissions, conserve fossil fuels, and build an economy that is based on clean, safe and renewable energy.

We are aware that some do not believe this change is human-made. Even if you count yourself among this number, what we advocate can only better our environment, the health of our people and the future of our land. We believe if we do not halt the amount of climate pollution we are pumping into the air, we will continue down a course of deep instability both ecologically and economically.

Our economy has been pummeled by unstable food and fuel prices, and is struggling to remake itself for a healthier and more sustainable future. The recent photos of the flooding on Interstate 5 illustrate vividly how disruption in our climate has far-reaching consequences on every aspect of our lives. Taking action is a moral imperative, and it’s the smart thing to do.

The Washington Legislature is considering “cap and invest” legislation (HB 1819 and SB 5735). This will create a fair and effective program by setting a cap on the amount of climate pollution allowed, and then selling permits for pollution.

By gradually reducing the amount of permits available, the amount of pollution is reduced. Selling the permits generates revenue, which can be used to stimulate investment in a new, clean-energy economy and train people for green jobs.

We are especially supportive of the aspect of this bill that prioritizes help for low-income families with high energy costs. Climate change has the greatest impact on those with the least – families struggling to pay heating bills, family farmers stricken by drought, or workers looking for jobs in rapidly shrinking fields. “Cap and invest” helps right that inequity by investing the revenue from selling pollution permits back into our struggling economy.

We encourage our state legislators to serve as climate champions and champions of a new and just local and global economy. We can’t afford to wait any longer.

Some Spokane area legislators, like Sen. Lisa Brown and Sen. Chris Marr, have been effective and ardent advocates for solutions to climate change. We should let them know that now is not the time to waver – by passing “cap and invest” we can create a healthier economy, planet and future for our families.

As Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori commented in her testimony to the U.S. Senate in 2007, “We cannot triumph over global poverty … unless we also address climate change, as the two phenomena are intimately related.”

The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel is the Episcopal Bishop of Olympia. The Rt. Rev. James E. Waggoner Jr. is the Episcopal Bishop of Spokane.