By Mark Vossler, MD
As a physician, few things are more gut-wrenching than watching a patient struggle to breathe. But the growing pollution in our air means more of my patients and our children are fighting for breath from asthma, more elderly succumbing to heart failure, a rise in strokes, and many other health impacts. When you can’t breathe nothing else matters.
This is why I am going all in on Initiative 1631. I am seeing firsthand the devastating effects of dirty air and I’m determined to fight back. This November, I invite you to join me as we take a significant step to clean up our air by passing this sensible and important initiative.
I-1631 would put a fee on our state’s largest sources of pollution – primarily from the oil industry and utilities that still use coal. Analysts say this will bring down our emissions by 25 million tons of air pollution a year. At the same time, the fee will fund important projects that will protect communities, especially those already most impacted by carbon pollution. This makes clean energy more affordable for more people creating thousands of jobs across the state, ensuring these solutions are available to all.
The same polluters who would be asked to pay are, of course, fighting this initiative with all they’ve got. Five big oil companies have donated millions of dollars to the No campaign’s funding. They are spending millions in our state to scare voters and mislead them about the facts. You’ll see a lot of their ads in the coming weeks but don’t be fooled, these are from out-of-state oil companies who don’t share our values and just want to protect their profits at the expense of our health. I’ve read the initiative and as a health professional, this is a sensible solution to tackle a problem that continues to make us sick and will make us even sicker in the future if we fail to act now.
Initiative 1631, the clean air and clean energy initiative, has broad and deep support. A remarkable coalition that includes businesses large and small, tribal nations, communities of color, environmental and clean energy advocates, labor unions, medical professionals, and many others has come together to craft a sensible first-step solution that will hold our state’s largest polluters accountable. The fact that so many amazing diverse groups are ready to stand up for their communities and face off with big oil is inspiring to me and tells me we are on the right track. This measure and the many groups and individuals supporting it represent all of Washington and our commitment to clean air, clean water, and a healthy place to live.
I live and work in Kirkland and seeing so many of my neighbors, friends, and colleagues excited about this initiative has made me incredibly proud to be a part of this community. I hope you will join me in taking this important step. Our health depends on it.
Mark Vossler, MD, is a cardiologist practicing in Kirkland and a co-chair for the Climate and Health Task Force of the Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility.