Guest column: Issaquah leaders support a clean fuel standard

By Victoria Hunt, Issaquah City Council president, and Issaquah Mayor Mary Lou Pauly

Issaquah leadership has a message for the WA State Senate: it’s time to pass a Clean Fuel Standard.

The Washington State Legislature is once again considering a clean fuel standard. After passing in the House last week, it’s just been heard in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy and Technology..

Over a year ago, the Issaquah City Council unanimously supported a resolution in support of a clean fuel standard. We passed that resolution after reviewing the Washington Department of Health’s Health Disparities Map, which shows how census tracts along major roadways have increased diesel emissions associated with air pollution, and all of the adverse health issues that come with it. The impact on Issaquah residents is astounding and can not be ignored.

Our growing city of over 38,000 people is cut through the middle by a major roadway, Interstate 90, exposing our entire community to high levels of toxic pollution each day. What’s more, in keeping with best practices for city planning within the urban growth boundary, we are planning our city’s future growth along major transportation corridors. This is critical so that as we grow, people can still get around and have easy access to transportation. However, without a clean fuel standard, all of this means that our population will remain at high risk of adverse health effects caused by traffic emissions. We must take the step to clean up our transportation pollution, so that we can have both accessible transit options and clean air to breathe.

Everyone deserves to live in an environment that won’t make them ill. As highlighted in the Washington Health Disparities Map, negative health impacts like asthma, heart and lung disease, and other respiratory illnesses disproportionately impact historically disadvantaged populations and community members with lower incomes who are more likely to live near major roadways. The clean fuel standard is an important step towards addressing this disparity, as it requires investments to be made specifically in areas with the most impacted populations.

Elected leadership in Issaquah is not alone in calling for HB 1091 to be passed into law. We joined over 160 elected officials in Washington to sign onto a letter in support of the bill.

The third time must be the charm for this policy. Every year that we don’t pass a clean fuel standard is another year of not addressing the disparity and harm of traffic-related air pollution. Our communities deserve better. Our children and the next generation need us to do better. This year, we have the chance to make change yet again. This time, let’s not mess it up.