Clean & Just Transportation
Who We Are: The Clean & Just Transportation Table
The Climate Alliance hosts the Clean and Just Transportation table, representing labor unions, community of color based organizations, mobility, health, and environmental organizations. Together, we are working to pass strong state-wide transportation policies that build a clean and equitable transportation system for all by reducing climate pollution, improving community health and economic opportunity, and creating sustainable alternatives to congestion management. We fundamentally believe transportation solutions must be built by those most adversely impacted by pollution and economic injustice to ensure we create a transportation system that reduces pollution and increases affordability, safety, equitable access, good jobs, clean air, and clean water.
Climate justice is transportation justice.
Transportation is Washington State’s number one source of climate pollution and disproportionately impacts communities living near roadways, port facilities, and railways, predominantly impacting low-income and communities of color across our state. We know that we cannot mitigate the climate crisis without transforming our transportation system to center the values of community health, equity, and environmental justice. We need to build a clean and just transportation system that improves our state’s air and water quality, creates good local jobs, reduces sprawl and displacement, and allows everyone to get where they need to go efficiency. safely, affordably, and reliably.
Washington State is spending transportation funding in the wrong ways.
Not only is transportation funding declining, Washington State continues to overwhelmingly prioritize spending our limited revenue on new roads and highway expansion which increase car congestion, displacement, and pollution. We can and must do better and build a transportation system that is clean and just and aligns our spending with our state’s transportation goals of safety, health, and equity.
Our state transportation funding should be progressive and stable.
Washington currently funds our state transportation system through federal funds, state gas tax, and local taxes. Gas tax revenues are projected to decline dramatically over time. In addition, the passage of I-976 eliminated $4 billion in state transportation revenue, including major sources for transit, ferries, walking and biking projects. Now, more than ever, we need new progressive and stable revenue sources to ensure people have clean transportation options to get them where they need to go.
We are striving to build a transportation system that supports these key principles:
- Resilience: Prepares us for significant changes to our climate, our economy, and our social practices.
- Stable Climate: Reduces greenhouse gas pollution.
- Health equity: Reduces air pollution particularly in highly impacted areas, provides healthy and safe options for all populations to access essential services and/or jobs, and keeps users and operators safe from biohazards.
- Labor benefits / just transition: Maximizes the creation of good local jobs.
- Safety: Reduces safety impacts from crashes, assault, and unsanitary conditions.
- Land use, housing & resource preservation: Has positive impacts on land use including, reduces pollution, reduces sprawl, and promotes anti-displacement.
- Equitable access: Helps meet the needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, low-income, those with disabilities, small and rural communities, and the unbanked and undocumented.
- Water quality & equity: Improves water quality by reducing stormwater, hazardous waste, and impervious surfaces, with targeted consideration of places with cumulative impacts.
- Wealth redistribution: Reduces the tax burdens of transportation options progressively, with equitable distribution of investments and impacts.
2021 Legislative Session: We Need a Clean & Just Transportation System
The time is now to fund and invest in a cleaner and more equitable transportation system for all Washingtonians that improves the community health and reduces traffic and pollution.
As the state legislature looks at how to fund the transportation system to achieve Washington State’s
transportation goals, we must assess how to generate transportation revenue in a way that reduces greenhouse
gas emissions and air pollution, improves multimodal transportation choices, and ensures fair and equitable
outcomes. The following are guidelines for evaluating new and existing transportation revenue sources and key
considerations for emerging revenue ideas given the challenges we face:
Transportation dollars must be used in ways that deliver the best investments possible to help build a more efficient,
affordable, clean and just transportation system for all. People living in urban and rural Washington should have a
diverse options to get around, so they can be active and healthy; access opportunities like health care, good jobs
and education; and live in a sustainable climate. Investments must be prioritized in communities that experience the
greatest burden of climate and air pollution, predominantly low-income and communities of color across our state.
The following set of investments best help achieve a clean & just transportation system in Washington:
2020 Legislative Session Recap
Our top priority during the 2020 legislative session was to pass the Transportation for All bill sponsored by Representative Sharon Shewmake and Senator Rebecca Saldaña, which would make sure transportation projects and funding priorities are evaluated and selected based on performance over politics. The Transportation for All bill would have updated the State’s transportation goals to include equity, safety, accessibility, and environmental justice and transportation spending would be evaluated based on these goals to help guide the decision-making process.
Although our Transportation for All bill did not pass in full during the 2020 legislative session, we did pass two important provisos in the 2020 State budget and in a short period of time helped change the conversation around how we need to equitably and sustainability invest in transportation in Washington state.
Our 2020 Wins:
- WSDOT pilot project evaluation: This proviso directs WSDOT to work with stakeholders, including “traditionally underserved and historically disadvantaged populations” to pick two transportation projects to evaluate based on current transportation policy goals and the themes of health, accessibility, environmental justice, equity, and climate change.
- Joint Transportation Committee assessment of statewide transportation needs: Also in line with the Transportation for All Bill, this proviso directs the Joint Transportation Committee to review whether WSDOT’s existing transportation policy goals should be updated. We believe this opens an opportunity to add priorities such as equity, health and environmental justice, while minimizing the emphasis on false promise of congestion relief via highway construction. A JTC-appointed commission will review the assessment and make recommendations to the legislature for consideration during the 2021 legislative session. You can review the transportation needs assessment study briefing here.
Clean & Just Transportation in the News
- Opinion: Better ways to fund and invest in a transportation system for all (Seattle Times)
- COVID-19 Solidarity: Transportation for All webinar recording with state legislators (Climate Alliance)
- Washington Democrats Are Damn Right to Remove Congestion Relief from Transportation Goals (The Stranger)
- Should WSDOT keep expanding our congested roads? Some legislators don’t think so (Seattle Times)
- WSDOT Wants Lawmakers to Remove Congestion Relief as a Transportation Policy Goal (Smarter Transit)
Historical Context for the Present Moment: Structural racism within our Transportation System
The below articles give historical context about why our transportation system was intentionally structured and planned to oppress, segregate, and pollute low-income and communities of color and why we must envision a new transportation future that both repairs past injustices and equitably invest in clean transportation options for communities most impacted by pollution and economic injustice.