By Tim Manns
Initiative I-1631: This May, Audubon State Director Gail Gatton said, “Our mission is clear: we support climate action that will swiftly and effectively reduce carbon pollution, the number one threat to birds.” This sense of urgency to address global warming, combined with a pragmatic willingness to not insist on perfection, led Audubon Washington and many of the state’s 25 chapters to actively support Initiative-732 two years ago. Had it become law, there would already be a price on carbon emissions in Washington State. Over 40% of voters supported that initiative, which gives hope that I-1631, for which signatures are now being gathered, can pass. Economists across the political spectrum believe that taxing greenhouse gas emissions is an efficient and effective way to quickly reduce fossil fuel dependence and transition to renewable energy. The Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, a large coalition of environmental, labor, and social justice groups, worked long and hard to draft I-1631 and now has a large effort underway gathering the signatures needed to put it on this Fall’s ballot. The board of Audubon Washington, Governor Inslee, and many other organizations and individuals are in support. As of this writing, the Skagit Audubon board has not yet had the opportunity to decide whether to join in but should vote at its June meeting. Please take a few minutes to read about how I-1631 addresses global warming in a way with real promise to be effective while also redressing the disproportionate impacts of carbon pollution on communities and groups and helping ensure a transition for workers in the fossil fuel industry. Go to https://jobscleanenergywa.com/ Details of the initiative are at https://jobscleanenergywa.com/ballot-filing-statement/
The basics of the pricing scheme: Beginning in 2020, a fee equal to $15.00 per metric ton of carbon content. In 2021, the fee increases $2.00 per year until the state’s 2035 greenhouse gas reduction goal is met and the state’s emissions are on a trajectory towards compliance with the state’s 2050 goal. The Washington legislature set these carbon emissions reduction goals years ago but has yet to establish a path to meet them. I-1631 would do this. See what you think. Sign the initiative petition so that voters this Fall can decide whether to support what would be an example to the rest of the U.S.
Migratory Bird Treaty Act: Of the many other current issues, let me reiterate the need to uphold the long-held interpretation of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It is the deepest irony that this July 3rd marks the hundredth anniversary of the signing of this most important law protecting North American birds even as it is being very seriously weakened by the current presidential administration. While we should be celebrating, we instead need to make an all-out effort to hold the line. If the Administration’s re-interpretation of the act holds, individuals and corporations will no longer need to take measures to avoid accidental or incidental injuring and killing of birds. Failure to prevent birds from landing and dying in oil field waste pools, colliding with power lines, and many other artificial hazards would no longer have consequences. There would be no motivation to even try to prevent such incidents. Go to https://www.audubon.org/ and scroll down to information about the Act and how to contact your member of Congress about it.
Additional Conservation Issues: For information on other issues relevant to Skagit Audubon, check the Conservation Notes on the chapter website: http://www.skagitaudubon.org/conservation/notes. I’ll try to update these from time to time during the coming months.
In May I traveled to Massachusetts visiting family and friends and stopped in Concord because of Henry David Thoreau. Last year was the bicentennial of his birth there, and I’d read a new biography that does a good job depicting him as the engaged Concord community member that he was. We tend to picture Thoreau as a skilled observer of the natural world and a loner best known for his brief time living in a small cabin at Walden Pond. In fact, for all his brief life Thoreau was deeply ingrained in the Concord community. While there, I went to the public library, where the special collections librarian made my day by retrieving from the vault Thoreau’s original manuscript of his essay “Walking” and showing me, in Thoreau’s hand, the much-quoted words, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” Thoreau wasn’t choosing between wild nature and society but finding the necessary balance between the two. Rather than escaping society to live in isolation, as he may have preferred, Thoreau lived a life of involvement with those around him while also engaging regularly with nature. Those of us that care about the wild world, we Audubon members, are called to such a life today.