Students from the WashPIRG Student Chapters are travelling the state to build support for 100% Renewable Energy and the 100% Clean Electricity bill before the state legislature. Students are stopping in cities, meeting with local leaders and talking to the media about why they support renewable energy and why it’s essential for Washington’s future.
“Our goal is simple,” said Kyra Woytek, sophomore at the University of Washington and one of the students who helped organize the tour. “We’re here to demonstrate the widespread student enthusiasm for renewable energy and Washington’s 100% Clean Electricity bill. We are concerned about the future we will inherit. With increasing wildfires, unhealthy air days, and increasing extreme weather events, now is time to act and start the transition to a 100% clean and renewable energy future.”
WashPIRG Students and Environment Washington are pushing a bill that would eliminate coal on the grid by 2025, require all utilities to have a resource mix that is 80 percent clean by 2030, and ensure all electricity in Washington state is carbon-free. Gov. Jay Inslee requested the bill, and its prime sponsors are state Sen. Reuven Carlyle in the Senate and state Rep. Gael Tarleton in the House.
“100% renewable is 100% possible and 100% necessary,” said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who joined the students to support their call for state and federal action. "That's why I am a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal and was a lead sponsor of the 100 by ’50 Act. Climate change is a national crisis. We need to take action now to address the climate crisis and transition our economy to 100% renewable energy."
Our reliance on dirty sources of energy like coal, oil and fracked gas is harming our health and hurtling us toward catastrophic climate change. While solar and wind energy are growing rapidly, we are still not doing enough to protect our communities from harmful pollution and to ensure a safe, livable climate for future generations.
“Washington State has both the capacity and will to be a nationwide leader on 100 percent clean, renewable energy,” said Chris Connolly, Environment Washington 100% Renewable Energy Fellow. “With other states and scores of cities and corporations committing to cleaner, healthier futures for our kids and our planet, Washington State has an obligation to take a strong, clear position.”
Growing awareness of the environmental impacts of our energy use, coupled with rapid advances in technology and declining costs, has made renewable energy the “go-to” option for many communities and businesses. One hundred U.S. cities, led by a mix of Republican and Democratic mayors, have pledged to transition their power sources to 100 percent renewable energy. In addition, 131 major companies, including Bank of America, Walmart and Anheuser-Busch, have pledged to power their entire operations with renewable energy.
In Washington State, Edmonds, Whatcom County, Bellingham and Spokane have all committed to 100% clean, renewable energy goals. Homegrown companies here in Washington State, including Microsoft and Starbucks, have already committed to going 100% renewable.
“Considering the level of climate chaos already unleashed at 1°C warming, from ravaging wildfires to devastating storms, we must move as rapidly as possible to reduce emissions,” said Woytek. “We need immediate action and legislation that requires a swift transition in the next 5-10 years. That’s why strong short-term targets are critical to making this bill meaningful. At the very least, we need to ensure that the provisions to eliminate coal on the grid by 2025 and to require utilities to be 80% percent clean by 2030 remain in the bill, and if anything, that they are strengthened not weakened.”