Seattle City Council passes Green New Deal resolution

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Monday in support of a resolution for a Green New Deal.

Many people testified in favor of the city acting quickly to address the climate crisis, and the crowd was standing room only.

Emma Nixon brought her two young children to the council meeting.

"We are terrified that they will die an early and terribly tragic death because of the impact we humans have on our environment," she told the council.

The Green New Deal would remake the economy with clean energy, to act on warnings from scientists that climate change will be irreversible unless drastic action is taken by 2030.

"If we need to be climate pollution free by 2030, what we're talking about is no more fossil fuels in our city," said Councilman Mike O'Brien, who led the effort on the council.

O'Brien said that means abandoning gas and diesel vehicles for electric, requiring buildings be more energy efficient and moving away from natural gas furnaces.

The resolution does not make specific policy but does envision a fund to raise and spend money on green projects.

Mayor Jenny Durkan has already proposed a tax on home heating oil to help pay for transitioning the 18,000 city homes that still use it.

O'Brien said that model could work for other Green New Deal projects.

Todd Myers, of the Washington Policy Center, a conservative think tank, is critical of the effort, saying, "This is more about making politicians feel good rather than helping the environment."

Myers said better solutions for climate change will come from private sector innovation and consumer incentives.

"We do need to do something about carbon dioxide emissions, but giving people incentives to reduce their CO2 emissions and become more efficient and save money is the way to do it, not top-down government plans," Myers said.

The King County Council could be next in supporting the Green New Deal.

Councilman Larry Gossett told Seattle City Council members that he plans to introduce a similar resolution when the council returns from a summer break.

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