Votes tonight on I-976 litigation and a Clean Fuel Standard

Derek Young
3 min readDec 11, 2019

I-976 Litigation

On a 4–3 vote, the Council voted to intervene in defense of I-976 in a suit filed by a number of parties including King and Garfield counties.

The voters have spoken and they deserve to have the law they passed defended. That’s why the Attorney General, as directed by the Constitution, is defending the law in court.

I’m voting against joining the litigation because Pierce County has no role to play. As far as we can tell, a county intervening on behalf of the State is without precedent and not clear that court would even allow us to do so.

Unlike the over 100 jurisdictions in Washington, we have not passed a local license tab fee. However, many of our cities have (Buckley, Carbonado, DuPont, Eatonville, Edgewood, Fife, Lakewood, Orting, Roy, Tacoma, University Place, Wilkeson). As a result, we would not have standing to challenge the law as Garfield and King counties have.

I also do not think this was necessarily a vote against transit or local road funding. Washington has the most regressive tax code in the country and license tabs are a particular flashpoint since people pay them in one lump rather than spread out over time like sales or income tax. The Legislature should take this as another signal to reform our tax structure. I’m representing counties on a work group tasked with this job. The plan is to have recommendations for the 2023 session, but the Legislature could make adjustments now to transportation funding.

Clean Fuel Standard

Two years ago the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) adopted a target to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Because the Legislature has failed to adopt standards to achieve this goal, PSCAA is considering adoption of a local Clean Fuel Stand for the four county central Puget Sound region (Kitsap, Snohomish, King, and Pierce).

The rule is similar to ones adopted in California, Oregon, and British Columbia. The best way to understand the rule is that pollution typically saves money by socializing costs through impacts to our health and environment. The idea here is to make cheaper fuels more competitive by requiring the purchase of credits to offset more intense carbon pollution.

By coincidence, this morning I attended a Puyallup Tribal Council meeting held at Chief Leschi School. The special meeting was called to declare a climate emergency and order several actions including adoption of their own standards and hiring staff to implement.

As I listened to their councilmembers speak unanimously in favor, they made clear that the location of the meeting was not an accident. In the gymnasium surrounded by students, they spoke to the children for whom they were taking action. They spoke about the changes to the mountain, Puget Sound, and streams that we’re all experiencing.

A side note, we should have more kids at meetings. When the vote was called a bunch of the littles shouted “aye” along with the Council. Apparently they were paying close attention.

Billy Frank Jr.’s tombstone reads “we are running out of time.” Unfortunately he’s right. Elected leaders need to step up.

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Derek Young

Pierce County Councilmember. Serving Gig Harbor, Fox Island, Key Peninsula, Ruston, and parts of North and West Tacoma.