You did it! On Monday, July 2nd, WPSR members and staff joined our partners in the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy coalition in Olympia to turn in 377,000 signatures to get Initiative 1631 ("Clean Air, Clean Energy") on the ballot. We are honored to play a leading role and represent the health voice in this unprecedented coalition of tribal nations, communities of color, labor unions, and environmental groups working to improve the lives and health of all Washingtonians.
Over the past four months, volunteers gathered thousands of signatures for Clean Air and Clean Energy. From Farmers Markets, to rainy light rail stops, to retirement home lobbies and gatherings of friends, health activists were unstoppable. Together, WPSR members gathered over 8,368 signatures. We are amazed by your efforts and activism - thank you for helping us get here.
At the signature turn-in press conference, Dr. Mark Vossler (cardiologist and Chair of WPSR’s Climate & Health Task Force) gave the following remarks. He was joined on the speakers list by WPSR intern Jade Lauw, also a fellow with the youth advocacy organization Our Climate. Mark gathered nearly 1,000 signatures and played a leading role in the East King County signature drive campaign. We’re inspired by his efforts and those of our entire team.
Supporting I-1631 through health-based advocacy is a priority for WPSR’s Climate & Health Task Force. As we gear up for November, we’re getting ready to speak loudly and often about the imperative of putting a price on carbon pollution, supporting communities most vulnerable to climate change, and investing in clean energy. From talking to friends and neighbors, to writing op-eds and letters to the editor, there will be countless ways to support this critical effort.
Dr. Mark Vossler's Remarks at I-1631 Signature Turn-in Press Conference
“Clean Air! Clean Energy! What’s not to like?” I remember my first signature gathered in the campaign. The woman who signed on a rainy April day outside PCC said those words to me while she grabbed the board and then about to sign asked, “What’s this about?” As I briefly explained the proposal she said, “You had me at clean air.” That experience has buoyed me through the rest of the campaign.
I joined Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility to work on preventing that which we cannot cure. I took time away from my medical practice and my family to volunteer for Yes on 1631 because I know that climate pollution is affecting real people right now. I committed every free moment I had to the effort because there was nothing else I could have done over the past three months that would have had a greater impact on the health of our community. I know that the air pollutant co-riders with carbon are affecting people in Washington right now. I’ve read the studies showing increased heart attacks and strokes related to “bad air days." I’ve seen my own patients coming to clinic with worse heart failure and worse asthma when the particulate counts are up.
The health impacts of our continued addiction to fossil fuels hit the most vulnerable the hardest, from little kids with asthma to the frail elderly with heat stroke to residents of impoverished low lying coastal villages with water supplies flooded with sewage. Yet these vulnerable communities have done the very least to contribute to the problem. It is repulsively immoral that our nation continues to promote interests of dirty energy barons on the backs of the sick, the infirm, the young, the old and the poor.
We aren’t willing to let the naysayers hold us back. I feel so privileged to be able to work with so many amazing diverse groups who are ready to stand up for their communities. This coalition truly represents all of Washington because having clean air and a health place to live affects all of us.
The health of people in our community is NOT a special interest. It is everybody’s interest.
So Yes! Yes! Yes! On 1631…It can be done!!
WPSR members and staff gathered 8,368 signatures to get I-1631 on the ballot!