I chose to run for this office because we are in the middle of a climate emergency. With very little time left to put policies in place to significantly reduce carbon emissions, we haven’t seen the climate leadership we desperately need at the federal level.

I’ve spent much of the last three decades working for climate action, clean energy, and environmental justice. I am a climate leader and an organizer – the founding executive director of Washington Conservation voters, a senior advisor at Climate Solutions and was campaign director for the Power Past Coal campaign.

The climate crisis is happening, it’s getting worse, and we must address it with the necessary intensity. While the threat of climate change once seemed distant, we’ve allowed the situation to worsen as untenable rates of emission continue, temperatures and sea levels rise and we approach a tipping point. We feel climate change in the form of summer forest fires, intense hurricanes and storms, ocean acidification and rising sea levels, and droughts that hurt farmers and reduce agricultural productivity. Communities of color, and vulnerable and low-income communities have long borne the brunt of pollution, and, now, they are the first to experience worsening outcomes as climate change escalates.

Meanwhile, we have another crisis. COVID-19 demonstrates the dire risks at hand when the government doesn’t listen to science and fails to recognize the need for urgent action. The human and economic cost of this coronavirus tragedy have worsened because of a failed approach to leadership.

We cannot allow these tragedies to repeat with climate change. We still have time to prevent the worst of the looming climate catastrophe.

I know that America can use the COVID-19 economic recovery to jump start our transition to a clean energy economy. And I know addressing the threat of climate change also offers us the opportunity to reinvent our economy and reinvest in our country.

I am heartened by the work of the climate leaders who recognize this and have crafted the Evergreen Action Plan, as well as by the bold and optimistic vision for a clean energy future presented on the campaign trail and in Washington State by Governor Inslee, and, finally, for the energy, enthusiasm, and ambition activists have brought to this issue nationally with the Green New Deal.

Now, we need leaders in Congress who not only voice the right values, but have the passion and expertise to get these ideas enacted, who understand the urgency of this issue, and who will ensure every policy is viewed through a community- and worker-centered climate justice lens.

Below, I present some of my top priorities for climate legislation and a Green New Deal, based on what we’ve accomplished in Washington, what we need to do sector-by-sector to reduce emissions, and how we can adapt to our already changing climate.



Preparation and Investment
The Path Forward

We face both a fast-breaking economic crisis and an ongoing climate crisis, but they share common solutions – and they present a unique opportunity. We need a massive investment focused on ending our reliance on fossil fuels and addressing our urgent needs to respond to the climate crisis. We cannot simply return to the failed promises of oil and coal – we need to move forward now to a new economy where we transition over time toward a fossil free future.

As Congress decides which businesses to support and who to bail out, our country must support our emerging clean energy industries, protect struggling fossil fuel workers, and invest in communities now – but we cannot accept bailouts for giant fossil fuel corporations. When fossil fuel companies have knowingly put us on the path to climate catastrophe, they should also know better than to ask for a bailout – they should be prepared to pay for cleaning up the mess they’ve made. We will need to put a price on emissions and pollution, ensuring it is equitable and just so that polluters don’t make working families foot the bill.

As the first Executive Director of Washington Conservation Voters, I helped set ambitious environmental policy goals and define a model that has been replicated in states across the country. Similarly, here in Washington, I’ve helped develop, pass, and implement revolutionary and landmark environmental policy. Now, like we did with WCV, it’s time to bring these same ideas nationwide, and then take the next step in enacting a Green New Deal.


Electricity and Heating

A clean electricity system is the foundation on which we must build a carbon-free economy. The federal government must follow in Washington State’s footsteps by swiftly adopting a 100% clean electricity requirement. As part of this law, we should close all remaining coal plants by 2025 and achieve net-zero carbon emissions from our electricity generation by 2030, including all sources, sinks and offsets. Then, we must require completely carbon free power no later than 2035, with a goal of achieving it by 2030. Our 100% clean electricity pathway must ensure everyone has a role in our clean energy future, like the bill I fought for this year to help bring solar panels to low income communities.

I worked hard to pass Washington’s 100% clean electricity policy bringing together labor, environmentalists, communities of color, Tribal communities, and many other stakeholders – and we didn’t quit until we had the best policy possible and the best policy in the country. I’m dedicated to doing the same in Congress.

We must then use this clean power to end our reliance on fossil fuels in our buildings, too. Last year in the legislature, I led the charge on the Clean Buildings for Washington Act, the first building performance standard applied to existing buildings anywhere in the country. In Congress, I will work to build on this achievement, requiring building codes that require a 70% reduction in energy use for all new buildings built after 2030, commercial building standards on existing buildings requiring deep energy efficiency retrofits by 2030, and a goal that all commercial and multi-family buildings be net-zero carbon.

Future building regulations must also include consideration of embodied carbon and the emissions released throughout the entire supply chain, including the sourcing, transportation, and manufacturing of components of development projects. Utilizing the growing body of work scoring building products like steel and concrete through Environmental Product Declarations, we can incentivize the use of products with lower-carbon materials in our buildings. Pairing Buy Clean policies with Buy Fair policies will not only lead to driving carbon reduction investments in manufacturing, but will also set high labor standards for those products.


Transportation and Housing

We must swiftly end our reliance on gasoline, diesel and other fossil fuels in our transportation sector. In Congress, I will pursue an aggressive, four point agenda to do just that: adopt a national Clean Fuel Standard requiring a reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels of at least 25% by 2035; require all new personal vehicles sold after 2030 to be zero emission; create a new Cash for Clean Cars program that will provide tax credits and rebates to individuals that retire a gasoline vehicle for a zero emission vehicle; and create an unprecedented federal investment in charging infrastructure, including making fast chargers available at every rest area across the country and substantial support for workplace, home, and public charging.

This integrated program will not only help ensure that zero emission vehicles are for everyone, they will also drive billions of dollars of private and public investment that will support jobs in every corner of our country.

But cleaning our cars just isn’t enough. We have to help people opt out of cars entirely by supporting mass transit, compact and walkable communities, and infrastructure that helps people feel safe walking and biking to work and play. Unfortunately, much of our federal transportation budget right now merely feeds our reliance on personal vehicles, contributing to congestion, air pollution, collision injuries and deaths and much more.

That’s why I will work hard to ensure that federal transportation dollars go to states and projects that reduce our need for more driving. Rather than building yet another lane or expanding yet another highway, transportation dollars should be prioritized for the states and cities that do everything possible to reduce the need for road expansion in the first place. The time for continuously building roads we can’t afford without doing anything to cut congestion and increase commute options must come to an end.

I will continue to work closely with state and local government to address the climate and housing crises. Together, we will prioritize increasing density options in urban and suburban settings, growing transit and bike/pedestrian infrastructure, adopting an equitable method of decongestion pricing, and help ensure federal tax dollars go where they’re needed.

We’ll also massively expand federal support for zero-emission transit infrastructure, including electric buses and bus rapid transit, light rail, and commuter rail options, and, at the same time, the federal government will finally step up on affordable housing located close to transit and job centers.

We’ll start by rebuilding the 300,000 affordable housing units lost since 1994 and reinvesting in the Public Housing Capital Fund and Public Housing Operating Fund. Then, we’ll go much further by repealing the Faircloth Amendment which functionally prohibits new affordable housing and continue building beyond that limit to ensure that everyone has a safe place to rest their head at night. Housing is a climate issue, and I am dedicated to fighting for housing equity in Congress.


A Clean Economy Built With Good Jobs and a Just Transition

If our government is going to incentivize job creation, we better make sure those jobs are worth incentivizing. From construction projects and technical installations to a revitalized manufacturing sector producing electric cars, batteries, solar panels, and wind turbine parts – we can create millions of new jobs in the clean energy economy.

The transition to a clean economy will create incredible employment and economic opportunity for people at every level of educational attainment. It is imperative that as we do this, we ensure that the new economy is one that broadly shares prosperity.

That means any project that receives federal dollars, even if it’s executed by a private company, must pay prevailing wage, offer apprenticeship opportunities, contract with women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses, and include provisions for community hire. Wherever possible, we should also seek community workforce agreements.

As we do this, we must also take care of the fossil fuel workers and coal country that have for decades sacrificed their own health to provide our country’s energy. We will designate Clean Energy Transition Zones where we will invest federal resources in clean energy job creation and workforce training. And unlike the coal and fossil fuel companies that have exploited these workers, we will guarantee their pensions, provide grants, and offer wage and benefit support to ensure a truly just transition.

Additionally – for industries outside of fossil fuels – the government must work to encourage and develop more sustainable business practices. As we are seeing during this COVID-19 crisis, for some businesses regular telecommuting is possible, efficient, and productive, reducing transportation emissions and other environmental strains. Businesses adopting occasional remote work days can reduce emissions and improve productivity.



Prioritizing Those Most Burdened By Pollution

Climate change affects all of us, and that reality will only grow with time. But there’s also no question that communities of color, Tribal nations, and low income communities are on the frontline already. Fossil fuel infrastructure is more likely to be sited in places where the community lacks the political clout to fight back, meaning that more affluent and white people are often shielded from the pollution borne by underrepresented communities.

As we transition to a clean economy, we must prioritize mitigating these impacts first. We’ll make sure that one third of all federal clean energy spending is designated for environmental justice communities or provides them direct benefits. We’ll expand the Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreements and the Environmental Justice Small Grants programs, and prioritize other federal spending for communities identified through EJSCREEN and complementary tools, like we have done with the HEAL Act in Washington, ensuring that project funding directly addresses the pollution harms communities are exposed to.

And we’ll do it all with the guidance and support of environmental justice communities, including the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and local analogues that we’ll create or partner with when needed. These groups will be deeply involved in all of our climate work from the beginning – not an afterthought when the bills are already written and shovels are ready to dig.


International Cooperation to Ensure Real Progress

It’s obvious we must rejoin the Paris Accord, but this is not nearly enough to defeat climate change. Let’s start by updating our emissions targets to meet current projections, and continuing by implementing clean energy investments and carbon-reducing regulations, we can begin to make the change necessary to prevent climate catastrophe.

Further, trade is incredibly important to the economy of Washington state – which makes it even more important that we ensure our international trade agreements protect the rights of workers – and our environment. When we negotiate trade deals, we need to have advocates from labor unions and environmental groups at the table – so we can prevent a future where Americans lose jobs and our planet faces further degradation.




Adaptation and Proactive Response

Climate change is happening now. We see its impacts all around us, and it gets worse every year. The carbon we put in the air now can change the climate until 2070. We are already living with the effects of the last 50 years – and we will continue to feel worsening impacts for another 50 years, even if carbon pollution is eliminated. Even as we work to reduce carbon pollution, we must also be prepared with a strong response to climate change – one that will make our nation more stable and resilient. I am calling for a vigorous and visionary program to protect our public health, our communities, and our environment from the climate crisis that science tells us will only worsen.


Clean Air

Hotter summers are leading to worsening air quality. Ground level ozone levels can rise, triggering outbreaks of emphysema. Longer and more intense forest fire seasons are filling our towns and cities with dangerous haze. In addition to clean vehicles, mass transit, energy conservation, and non-fossil fuel power generation, we will invest in research and development of technologies that reduce carbon emissions and help clean up our air through carbon sequestration.

That also means investing in our forests and planting trees to improve their health and fire resistance. We spend so much money on fighting fires and so little on forest management. I’m calling for a major investment in restoration of forest ecosystems, which will also reduce dangerous fires that cost money, communities, and lives. Fewer, smaller forest fires will mean fewer days when we are breathing smoky air. And this will create jobs for forest workers in rural areas.


Safe, Healthy, Welcoming Communities

Massive storms have been hammering our communities with flooding, and they are likely to get worse. Sea level rise is adding to the damage to our coastal cities and driving climate gentrification. We need new efforts to better prepare our structures for recurrent floods and offer support for people in harm’s way.

Right now, coastal Tribal nations in Washington like the Quinault and Shoalwater Bay face rising sea levels and eroding shoreline, forcing them to move from traditional and ancestral lands at exorbitant costs. We must update the Coastal Zone Management Act to fit modern challenges and allow Tribal nations to seek needed federal support. And areas in our district, like downtown Olympia, face the potential for regular catastrophic flooding if investments aren’t made to proactively protect the area and enhance its shoreline as sea level rises. This is true for communities across America.

Our federal programs such as FEMA and flood insurance need to be revamped to prioritize good urban planning and sensible protection of communities. Coastal and shoreline wetlands and floodplains need to be restored to create natural storage for floodwaters and protect precious ecosystems. These policies will be linked to a public works program for community protection and ecosystem restoration.

At the same time as we are threatened by superstorms, we are also facing virulent tropical diseases never seen in our latitudes, such as Zika and West Nile.

We desperately need to move into the 21st century with Medicare for All, a comprehensive public health system. The COVID-19 crisis has revealed the deep problems with our health care and pandemic response systems. We need to invest in the health of our citizens by ensuring universal health care and a robust community health network, all supported by federal investment in research and medical logistics.

And, we must have serious immigration reform. Communities around the world are being pushed out by new weather patterns that will create climate refugees. We cannot respond to these new waves of immigrants like the Trump administration has to people seeking a better life. We must develop a compassionate and comprehensive immigration system that takes into specific account new climate refugees. As previously mentioned, the entire world must come together to address this challenge. We will never solve climate change with an America first approach, period.

No doubt, climate change is driving new and complex challenges that are going to demand new programs and resources.


Clean, Abundant Water (and vibrant salmon runs)

Climate change is hitting our nation’s water with conflicting challenges of more intense and frequent flooding and deeper, longer droughts. Take for example salmon habitat that is being scoured in winter before summer heat waves cause flows to drop and water to heat up past the point of salmon survival.

These impacts are added to the habitat destruction we have been struggling to repair for decades. Yet the critical restoration work that continues is also the key to helping salmon survive an increasingly difficult future. The program I support will put people to work restoring critical habitat and ensuring clean water and salmon for future generations, creating a Climate Conservation Corps that will take on additional conservation projects across the United States, retrofit existing infrastructure, and install new clean energy projects nationwide.

Further, people in cities across America like Flint have seen their water quality compromised and dangerously deteriorated, while in Miami sea level rise and agricultural pollution threaten the drinking water of millions. Everyone in this country deserves clean drinking water – and they deserve it without delay. We must put an emphasis on toxic reductions like PFAS, lead, and other dangerous contaminants.

We need to start serious water planning and management that addresses the real needs of people and our environment. We know water is limited and precious. Because of competing demands for water for our homes, farms, fish, power generation, and recreation, we can no longer afford piecemeal decision-making with poor information.

This also applies to the Snake River Dams. I voted in support of the state budget that includes funds for an analysis and assessment of the dams and how we can restore Snake River salmon runs. I believe it is important that we consider all options – and their impacts – including removal, if we are going to restore our salmon runs and save our state’s Southern Resident Killer Whales, as well as provide clean energy for our region and promote a strong local economy. Projects like these must be required to have an involved stakeholder process that includes all affected residents, and underrepresented and Tribal Communities.

We must create integrated plans and programs to better manage water through conservation, technology, and good rules that are enforced fairly. Comprehensive water planning will position us to make sensible decisions for our waters as they become increasingly threatened and in demand.


Resilient Working Lands and Sustainable Food Practices

Our forests and farms are facing increasing challenges from climate change: new and virulent pests; destruction from intense storms, fires, and drought; and new weather conditions demanding new strategies for our forests and crops. We need to support rural jobs and our natural resource base through investment in forest restoration and smart farming.

Farming in particular faces multiple challenges that call for creative solutions. Rather than increased pesticide use, we need investment and education in Integrated Pest Management and Regenerative Agriculture. Loss of water supply shouldn’t be a zero-sum game where farms take water from fish. Work in the Yakima Basin shows that we can invest in water conservation and low-water crops and farming practices that allow us to both increase agricultural viability under fluctuating conditions, while also providing more water for fish.

Food production and consumption is also a major driver of carbon emissions. Ammonia fertilizers are used to produce half of the world’s food supply – and production represents up to 2% of world energy consumption, while ammonia fertilizers produced with fossil fuels emit over 400 million tons of carbon dioxide every year. Renewable ammonia products exist, but they need the federal government to drive utilization – working to bring down the cost of production, expanding manufacturing, and encouraging use by farmers.

We also need a national plan to address the significant amount of food waste created nationwide, including tens of millions of tons of food sent to landfills and millions more left unharvested on farms. With one in eight Americans and one in six children food insecure, we can better optimize our existing resources to reduce wasted edible food and extraneous production; deliver unused edible food to food banks, pantries, and other services; and support other sustainable practices like compost and energy production. As I did in Washington, I will push Congress to ensure we have a plan to stay on track with the goal of 50% reduction in food waste by 2030, a target set by President Obama’s Department of Agriculture.

Billions of gallons of animal waste produced in the United States each year can also be used for Renewable Natural Gas – or biogas – that will be an important tool as we phase out fossil fuel use. Biogas provides a carbon neutral energy source from waste products, fueling vehicles and machinery that run on LNG, and adding power to the grid during its transition to electric power. Serving dual purposes of accelerating decarbonization and helping prevent waste runoff, our government must coordinate with farmers and producers, incentivize production, and drive biogas adoption in industries where possible.

Farmers have fed this country since its inception, and they deserve support from the government that protects their yield and their livelihood. We should learn from successful programs and make investments in sustainable farming that will continue to feed our nation while also protecting our natural environment.


Industrial Symbiosis

Like with food waste, our government should be leading the way in optimizing the use and re-use of industrial waste. By sharing byproducts and other materials created through the production process, unrelated industries and businesses can recycle, reduce consumption, bring down costs, and become more energy efficient and optimized, lessening the strain on our environment. We need federal leadership to take this effort on, study how it can best be implemented, and coordinate between the variety of industries and stakeholders who stand to benefit.



Key Support Mechanisms

To succeed in protecting our communities, ecosystems, and working lands in a changing future, we’ll need new approaches and good information. Important elements to an integrated response to climate change include:

  1. Development of risk management tools to help us plan for extreme events and make sensible use of our limited funds;
  2. build our planning on the “triple bottom line” of supporting our economy, our communities, and our environment;
  3. support research and monitoring to learn as we take action and improve our approaches with good science and data;
  4. ensuring that our planning is looking to the future and not based on history.

Our changing climate means our methods of forecasting must change. We need science and new, proactive, and holistic approaches to ensure the quality of life for future generations.





Throughout my 30 years of climate leadership, I’ve seen firsthand how elected officials in the “other Washington” have ignored – or denied – climate change, procrastinated or even undermined effective action, and punted responsibility to the states.

Our country and the ecosystems that define and sustain our communities and economy face increasingly urgent conditions, but I know that we can defeat climate change. Despite the capture of the Senate and White House by dangerous idealogues and self-dealing fossil fuel elites, or perhaps because of their behavior, I’ve never seen the level of energy around today’s environmental movement before.

Led by youth and historically marginalized communities, scientists and working people, the level of activism for climate action is both staggering and inspiring. It is critical that we channel that into real legislative accomplishments in Congress next session.

In addition to the policies presented above, I have many more ideas and priorities to address the needs of our communities and environment, as well as to prepare for – and work to prevent – the effects of climate change. The combination of a COVID stimulus and a Green New Deal will put Americans to work making cities strong and resilient, our economy green and equitable, and our natural resources revitalized and sustainable.

Perhaps most importantly, I will bring an openness to listen, a plan to work with climate leaders and well-intentioned stakeholders, and a track record of passing and implementing effective climate policy. I know, together, we can put forward the needed measures to create a robust clean energy economy, drastically reduce our carbon emissions, hold big polluters accountable, and prioritize environmental justice, so that all communities thrive free of pollution.