WPSR Climate & Health Task Force Letter on SB 6203

Our Climate & Health Task Force Co-Chairs sent the following letter to legislators, urging for stronger equity principles in a carbon tax bill making it's way through the legislature. 

January 30th, 2018

As an organization of health professionals, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility looks forward to seeing meaningful action on climate in the legislature this year. Numerous medical associations have deemed climate change the biggest health challenge of our time; putting a price on carbon pollution is therefore a health imperative. SB 6203 offers a powerful first step in taking meaningful action hold big polluters accountable and protect our communities from the health risks of climate change in Washington: extreme weather, harmful air pollution, sea level rise, vector-borne disease, and many more.

As health advocates, we urge you to put a price on carbon that effectively moves our economy off of dirty fossil fuels and on to clean energy. The revenue from such a fee must support communities and workers most at risk from this transition, and offset the regressive nature of consumption taxes.  We join our partners representing those most impacted by climate change in the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy in urging for a more equitable policy to tax carbon, and share their concerns enumerated below. We join them in urging the following changes to SB 6203:

  • Increase the tax rate by at least 7% per year, plus inflation

  • Investments specifically targeted in highly-impacted communities (including those currently facing disproportionate pollution and poverty), as designated by the Dept. of Health

  • Fund the Working Families Tax Rebate, plus additional, equivalent assistance for all lower income households not covered by the rebate

  • Ensure pollution reduction and resilience in highly-impacted communities

  • Ensure that no less than 25% of investments benefit highly-impacted communities, and no less than an additional 10% of investments are directly located in these communities

  • Give voice to disproportionately impacted communities through an economic and environmental justice oversight panel

Any equitable climate policy must place workers and those most impacted by the health effects of climate change at the center. And it must not further economically disadvantage those who can least afford to pay. This policy presents an incredible opportunity for Washington to be a leader in taking effective action on climate action in a way that supports all of us.

 

Thank you,

Mark Vossler, MD

Co-Chair, WPSR Climate & Health Task Force

 

Sarah Cornett

Co-Chair, WPSR Climate & Health Task Force