Healthy Environment

We must counter the Trump Administration’s anti-science, climate change-denying and pro-carbon agenda.

Our City and the next mayor must provide bold leadership on climate action, environmental justice, and the green economy. This is important not just for the future of Seattle, but for our country and planet. We must counter the Trump Administration’s anti-science, climate change-denying and pro-carbon agenda. Seattle has always had a special connection to our water, mountains and environment. We will not stand by as the Administration seeks to undermine the EPA and dismantle hard-fought protections for our water and air, cities and local governments must stand up to protect our environment.

As Mayor, I will be an outspoken champion for the environment, taking Seattle’s leadership on climate solutions and the clean energy economy to the next level. I will work with our community and the environmental leaders and organizations to ensure that the environmental solutions Seattle pursues are consistent with our social justice and equity values, and that the benefits are shared by those in the most need. I will stand up for our local parks, natural areas, trails and playfields, maintaining and expanding them so our diverse, growing population can reap the health benefits of getting outside to play in all parts of our great city.

Working for President Obama, I’ve been on the front lines fighting for clean air and water and for protecting our endangered species and our forests, prosecuting those who illegally dumped waste into our waters, cut down old growth trees, and unlawfully harvested scarce resources. I’ve also worked hard to bring people from diverse backgrounds together to find solutions to complex challenges (as was necessary with the police reform consent decree.)

Our environmental agenda will be successful only if it is rooted in equity and community engagement. The impacts of climate change and pollution are often felt hardest by those who have the least power and resources. In Seattle, residents living in the Duwamish river basin and along major transportation corridors face higher air pollution from diesel emissions, higher toxicity impacts from industrial operations and growing impacts of sea-level rise to the storm water drainage systems.

I am deeply committed to ensuring that the people most impacted by environmental degradation are included in crafting durable and just solutions. As Mayor, I will work to make sure that lower income families and people of color have access to programs designed to improve our carbon footprint (e.g., electric cars, energy efficiency retrofits), as well as a pathway to the new green jobs created by investments in the clean energy economy. I will work with Sound Transit and Metro to ensure that our investments in mass transit are also creating a more equitable city especially for working families and people of color who are hit disproportionately by the increasing cost of transportation.

Seattle is a city that leads. We believe in science. We hold dear the beauty, accessibility, and economic value of our natural environment, from the Sound to the mountains. We know that protecting the environment — including fighting climate change, embracing sustainability, innovating on clean energy, protecting our air and water quality — isn’t just a moral imperative, but it is good economic policy. The region that leads on these issues is going to be a winner economically. We are already known globally as a laboratory for innovative technologies and for our strong environmental ethic. I am committed to leveraging this public spirit along with public and private sector initiatives to accelerate our transformation into a model resilient city, including:

Environmental Justice

Residents in Seattle have not experienced our environmental progress equally. People of color in our city are more likely to live near polluted sites, more likely to suffer from health problems such as asthma, and less likely to have access to healthy fresh food. For too long, government has left out the communities most impacted from environmental hazards from our decision making process. As Mayor, I will be committed to ensuring that city government centers the experience of those most impacted in our decision-making. We also need to honor the fact that communities of color have both the experience and the expertise on what keeps their communities safe and healthy — we need to listen to this expertise and invest in the things that our community members know are working.

As Mayor, I will be committed to advancing environmental justice by:

  • Committing to implement the Equity and Environment Agenda, a partnership between communities of color and city government to advance environmental equity.
  • Empowering the Environmental Justice Committee launched last year. We must ensure this committee is woven into the fabric of city decision-making so that its continuation won’t depend on whom is in the Mayor’s office.
  • One of the issues highlighted in the Equity and Environment Agenda is the need for more economic opportunities from environmental We need more programs to connect the work that needs doing to the people who need work. City departments will conduct an assessment of the major environmental remediation projects for the next ten years and the workforce needs to complete them. I have called for expansion of apprenticeship programs and utilizing Community Benefit Agreements to provide our residents most in need of new economic opportunities with the training necessary to complete this work.
  • Asking the Environmental Justice Committee to provide policy and program recommendations to identify and correct the root causes of poor air quality in our neighborhoods experiencing health disparities from air quality.

Climate Change

Seattle has long been a leader in climate action — we were the city that galvanized cities across the country to commit to the Kyoto Protocol when our federal government stepped back. But pollution reduction hasn’t kept pace with our goals, and due to President Trump’s wrong-headed withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Seattle must step up to do even more. We also need to recognize that the impacts from climate change are experienced inequitably, and communities of color and lower income communities are set to suffer some of the worst impacts of climate change.

Seattle will be able to reach our climate neutral goal because we have a record of courageous leadership and a have a legacy of visionary initiatives, some which have given us our clean, carbon- free electricity.

Today, we need to imagine and prepare for the next 100 years. How do we capitalize on our strengths to address the impacts of climate change? How do we move to cleaner energy sources for everything? Since the people of Seattle are the “shareholders” of our own municipally owned utility, we have a special opportunity to lead the country on carbon-reduction initiatives.

These initiatives will benefit all of Seattle City Light ratepayers as more electrical use also spreads the cost of electric infrastructure across more users.

As Mayor, I will advance low-carbon building and Eco-Districts by:

  • Exploring both public resources and public/private resources to create a fund that residents can use to convert their heat source from oil/natural gas to clean The city currently offers a program to convert from oil but it’s only funded at $200,000 per year — we need to expand funding to help residents make important environmental improvements while keeping their housing affordable.
  • Taking a new look at the city’s green development incentive We have many programs to incentivize developers to build “green” but these aren’t actively marketed and haven’t been reviewed in this time of rapid development. We will work with the environmental community and building developers to determine how we push the envelope, and what would encourage developers to build the greenest buildings possible; then align our incentives around what actually works.
  • Developing new policies to increase energy efficiency in existing building There are over 20 million square feet of current buildings which are performing worse than 75% of the country. Bringing these buildings up to industry-average efficiency can save building owners millions of dollars and create hundreds of green jobs.
  • Incentivizing eco-districts to capture energy discharged from buildings like data centers, and transfer it to buildings nearb
  • Partnering with environmental community, builders and material industry to create pathways to have new buildings built in Seattle (including Single Family, Multi-Family, and Commercial) be near zero carbon emissions by For example, we can explore developing an incentive pool for multifamily buildings subject to Mandatory Housing Affordability.

As Mayor, I will advance cleaner transportation options, with a focus on transportation electrification by:

  • Creating a Working Group to move our city fleet and the transportation industry to electric vehicles. I will create a working group with affected stakeholders to move private transportation fleets (e.g., transportation network companies, carshare, taxi’s, shuttle services) to electrification. The group will also explore how to expedite the electrification of the city fleet. The working group will examine issues, such as time frames (with a goal of 5 years), phased mile per gallon and emission fleet requirements and infrastructure needs, costs and construction time, air quality benefits, and new job opportunities.
    • Explore incentives, such as reducing parking fees for electric vehicles, and reducing permit fees for EV car sharing vehicle Currently, Seattle Department of Transportation charges them for the metered parking rate for all times they are parked at a meter and $700 per year per car for the right to park in any Restricted Parking Zone.
  • Maximizing private investments and increase city investments in On-Street electrically charging stations at mobility hubs and in low-income neighborhoods.
  • Providing incentives in city contracts for bidders to use low-emission construction vehicles.
  • Requiring EV charging infrastructure in new development (~25% of new spaces), including affordable housing.
  • Directing Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections to amend existing code to ensure all parking garages built today are built ready for a future where all cars will be electric.
  • Ensuring the City is working with federal, state and local partners on electrifying transportation.
  • Partnering with Metro to electrify transit buses and vanpools.
  • Partnering with the Port and affected stakeholders to identify best electrification opportunities in Port operations.
  • Developing a plan for and implement citywide charging system:
    • Work with the Legislature to provide Seattle City Light with the same authority private utilities already have to offer incentives to customers who use electric.
    • Triple the number of Fast Charging Stations that Seattle City Light will build from 20 to 60 by turning the current program into a Drive Clean Seattle EV Infrastructure Grant Program. This grant program will stretch Seattle City Light’s investments and provide greater value for Seattle City Light ratepayers by partnering with the emerging EV industry partners.1
    • Look to the Volkswagen settlement funds to help expand the public charging network in our region.
  • Continue Seattle’s leadership in fleet electrification and lead the country in converting diesel trucks to electric-drive Ensure that contractors, like waste collection vehicles, transition to electric.

As Mayor, I will recommit Seattle to combat climate change by:

  • Declaring our intention to be a leader in the most prominent climate groups like C40 and US Conference of Mayors.
  • Committing to restoring Seattle’s role as a leader in convening and coordinating other cities to stand together resisting the Trump administration’s rollbacks.
  • Advocating for equitable carbon pricing at the state level based on the framework developed by the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy.
  • Calling for a climate summit with representatives from the private sector, environmental organizations, and representatives of communities most impacted by climate The summit will look at our current climate plans, ask what’s missing, and craft a strategy to meet Seattle’s climate goals while growing an equitable clean energy economy.


Seattle was recently selected by the Rockefeller Foundation to join an elite group of cities in the 100 Resilient Cities network. This grant provides support to identify the greatest challenges to Seattle’s future resilience and craft action-oriented strategies to address them. This grant provides an opportunity to work with one of the world’s largest foundations to make progress on some of Seattle’s most difficult challenges — climate change, displacement, seismic preparedness. As Mayor, I will help develop the strategies and lead the implementation of the recommended actions to help address the impacts of climate change.

Reduce Pollution in Our Lakes, Streams and Puget Sound

We need to significantly increase our green stormwater infrastructure to reduce pollution to our lakes, streams and Puget Sound. As Mayor, I will:

  • Partner with groups like The Nature Conservancy to create 20,000 rain gardens throughout the city. Our investments in green stormwater should also be investments in improving our neighborhoods, working with the neighborhoods that flood more frequently to provide additional green spaces that protect homes when it rains and provides park space during dry times.
  • Partner closely with King County and Metro to develop a plan to modernize our wastewater treatment and storm runoff infrastructure, to build redundancy, capture pollutants before they run into our precious waterways and prevent sewage spills into Puget Sound and Lake Washington.


 — Jenny Durkan

1 SCL is taking a legal position that precludes partnering with EV charging companies which results in SCL paying 100% of these projects, instead of 25-33% like other Washington public electric utilities.