by Jess Wallach
Across the US, local governments are banning new fossil fuel infrastructure. Next month, King County Councilmember Upthegrove will introduce an ordinance that we expect will see King County implement the strongest prohibition on new fossil fuel infrastructure anywhere in the United States. We need your help to make sure it passes.
Two years ago, Portland became the first city in the US to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Recognizing that local governments have constitutional power to protect the health and safety of their residents, Portland changed its land use zoning codes to prohibit new bulk fossil fuel storage facilities (i.e. large storage tanks for coal, oil and gas). Other communities under threat from the fossil fuel industry – Vancouver, Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Tacoma, Whatcom County and Baltimore, MD – soon followed with similar ordinances. Together, these communities have established a proven legal pathway for municipal governments to protect residents from toxic air, water and climate pollution.
King County is poised to be next.
In January 2019, King County Councilmember Upthegrove will introduce an ordinance that we expect will prohibit major new fossil fuel infrastructure, which would effectively prohibit significant expansions to existing gas infrastructure and ban new fossil fuel storage facilities in King County. To be more exact, the anticipated ordinance will do two things:
- Direct County staff to study and recommend changes to County land use and other regulatory frameworks to prohibit all new fossil fuel infrastructure to the greatest extent legally possible; and
- Establish a common-sense moratorium that freezes all new fossil fuel infrastructure development while these changes are being made.
By making changes to land use zoning code, King County can prohibit new fossil fuel bulk storage terminals, blocking any new refinery or export projects on unincorporated County land. By strengthening County permitting criteria to protect local communities from health, safety and financial risks, King County can critically slow down – and perhaps effectively stop – the buildout of existing fossil fuel infrastructure like fracked gas pipelines and oil-by-rail. And by proactively prohibiting new fossil fuel infrastructure, King County can become the next brick in the wall of West Coast communities prohibiting the expansion of dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure.
Undoubtedly, the fossil fuel industry and fossil fuel-hungry utilities like Puget Sound Energy will do everything in their power to fight this ordinance. That’s where you come in – we need your help to build powerful community support that resonates more loudly than fossil fuel industry money.
We’ll win by generating phone calls and emails to Council members, showing up to King County Council meetings, and ensuring that King County Council members know that their communities support bold climate action.
Will you join us? There are 3 things you can do right now to help:
- Take 30 seconds and sign our petition to King County leaders in support of a Fossil Free Future.
- Sign up here for the Fossil Free KC mailing list to get campaign updates and action opportunities.
- Join our next Fossil Free KC Action Meeting on December 13th! 6:30-7:30pm at 1919 E Prospect St, Seattle WA 98122
We know that the first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging. Yet the fossil fuel industry is continuing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on looking for new fossil fuels, and will do everything in its power to extract them and bring them to market ― even if it means the whole world burns.
This January, we have the chance to pass meaningful local legislation in King County that will help prevent the fossil fuel industry from digging the climate hole even deeper. But it will take all of us to ensure that this ordinance passes.
Together, we can win.