Clean Fuels Means More Local Jobs and a Robust Economy for Washington

by Matthew Hepner, Executive Director, Certified Electrical Workers of Washington

With vaccines being rolled out, job creation and economic recovery should now be at the top of the list of our state’s priorities as we work to finalize the state’s first clean fuel standard.

Representing over 12,000 electrical workers in the state, we’re really excited about what a strong Clean Fuel Standard in Washington would mean for more local jobs — and it’s why we’re calling on our legislators to do their job this session and pass the policy.

We see the low-carbon economy, driven by clean fuels, as a huge opportunity for the creation of family wage jobs and industry growth as the world economy begins to open back up. However, reaping these economic benefits means we must move forward quickly to adopt the standard and ensure that it aligns as closely as possible to the stronger clean fuel standards already in place in California and Oregon. This will create a thriving interstate market with far reaching impacts.

Washington already supports over 1,900 jobs in the clean fuels industry. And major employers across the state and nation also support a strong Clean Fuel Standard, from Amazon, the state’s largest employer, to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents the manufacturers of 99% of the new cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. In addition to the electrical workers union, other labor organizations from grocery store workers to medical professionals and health associations are also on board.

Support for clean energy and clean technology by the state has already delivered major benefits for the economy — it can do the same with low carbon fuels, ensuring that technologies and fuel advancements benefit Washington communities — and are not simply exported out of state.

The economic risks for not investing in cleaner fuels are real and costly. California, Oregon and British Columbia are attracting new clean fuels business investments — like electric vehicle infrastructure as well as creating an additional sustainable biofuel feedstock production in rural communities converting agricultural and forest wastes to a fuel source. As the economy wakes back up, Washington cannot miss out on the opportunity for more local jobs. By relying on local fuels rather than out of state oil, we can further grow our clean energy job market.

Another critical factor that we tend to overlook is the inherent economic risk presented by the climate crisis. As the climate crisis takes hold and its devastating physical impacts, like wildfires, wreak havoc across the world, global investors are becoming increasingly aware of the financial risks climate change can have on their portfolios. We must make every effort to stave off the worst impacts of the climate crisis — which will have severe repercussions in our economy and the world at large.

Research shows that a Clean Fuel Standard would begin cutting the carbon pollution associated with transportation fuels almost immediately. And Washington’s commitment to 100% clean electricity, a solution IBEW also supported in 2019, means that a shift towards electric cars will provide even cleaner and climate-friendly transportation options.

A strong Clean Fuel Standards in Washington would increase demand for good, skilled positions in the new clean economy — particularly in hard-hit regions where good jobs are harder to find. It’s my hope that our leaders in Olympia will see this potential and pass a strong policy now. We need clean fuels now — not later. Our economy and lungs cannot wait any longer.

We are health care professionals, faith leaders, elected officials and community advocates supporting a Clean Fuel Standard for Washington State.