Mayor Murray, Councilmember O’Brien issue statements on Trump administration’s rollback of critical vehicle efficiency standards

Today, Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Mike O’Brien released the following statements in response to the Trump administration’s rollback of critical vehicle efficiency standards:

“President Trump’s decision to roll back vehicle efficiency standards weakens clean air protections at a time when the U.S. and the world need urgent action to combat climate change,” said Mayor Murray. “This action sends a signal to the world that the U.S. is backing away from climate leadership. Vehicle efficiency standards have been critical in spurring innovations in cars and trucks that have resulted in cleaner air and water, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, a quarter of Seattle’s greenhouse gas reductions since 2008 can be attributed to the increasing fuel economy of our cars.

“Highly efficient and electric vehicles are the future of transportation and turning back efficiency standards will not halt our determination to achieve a clean energy economy. It will, however, create significant costs for the U.S.—in terms of air quality, health impacts, and the opportunity costs of losing our global leadership role in shaping a healthy, just, and prosperous future.

“There are signs that today’s action is just the first in a series of efforts to weaken our clean air protections. Seattle is determined to remain a global clean energy leader. In 2005, Seattle City Light became the first public electric utility to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions and has maintained that carbon neutral status every year since. Last year, we launched Drive Clean Seattle which helps our city fight climate change by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels while increasing our use of electric transportation.

“Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of waiting to act on climate. Seattle will stay united with cities in the U.S. and around the world to meet our commitments under the Paris Agreement. And we will continue with our own policies, including electrifying our vehicle fleet, cutting emissions from our buildings and expanding transit service to give people more transportation choices.

“Our world cannot afford President Trump’s plan to line the pockets of polluters at the expense of protecting public health and our environment.”

Councilmember Mike O’Brien (District 6, Northwest Seattle) said, “Obama’s leadership on vehicle fuel-efficiency standards is a necessary effort to reduce carbon pollution. The plan directly addresses global warming, but Trump continues to ignore the science behind policies at the expense of people everywhere on our planet. Trump’s action reassessing these environmental standards will potentially create devastating losses for our city, country, and the global community. My pledge is to continue to advance local policy to address climate change.

“Our city will remain committed to increasing electric vehicle usage, reducing building emissions, implementing the Equity & Environment Initiative and fulfilling our part of the Paris Climate Accord. It comes as no surprise that the same president who is banning immigration is also taking steps to make climate change worse, causing the greatest damage to the Global South and increasing immigration pressure. He is doubling down on an economy that benefits a few corporations and decimates low-income communities. But our fight to address climate change here won’t waiver. We will be bold and continue to strive to address impacted communities of color as we work to reverse the impacts of climate change. We will because we are Seattle.”

Additionally, Mayor Murray signed on to a joint statement with other mayors and governors in response to today’s announcement from the Trump administration:

Joint statement in response to the EPA’s reconsideration of federal vehicle fuel-economy and emissions standards by the Governors of Washington and Oregon, and the Mayors of Oakland, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle:

“As the governors of Washington and Oregon, the mayors of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Oakland, and representing a West Coast region of over 50 million people with a combined GDP of $2.8 trillion, we speak today in unified opposition to the federal withdrawal from the vehicle fuel efficiency standards that have worked for years to lower consumers’ fuel costs while making our air healthier to breathe. Our job as governors and mayors is to boost our region’s economic opportunities and to make our cities and states cleaner and healthier for our citizens. This decision does the exact opposite, making America more dependent on oil while putting more lives at risk from pollution and shortchanging consumers at the pump.

“The U.S. is a technology superpower. Our strong vehicle fuel economy standards are a reflection of that and position the U.S. to remain competitive in the global push toward clean cars. Let’s not cede our leadership.”

The release was jointly signed by:

Oregon Governor Kate Brown

Washington Governor Jay Inslee

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler

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Mayor Murray, in partnership with 100 Resilient Cities, appoints Jessica Finn Coven as Seattle’s first Chief Resilience Officer

Today, Mayor Ed Murray appointed Jessica Finn Coven as Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), a new position created to lead citywide resilience building efforts to help Seattle prepare for, withstand, and bounce back from “shocks” – catastrophic events like heat waves and floods – and “stresses” – longer term pressures like climate change, income inequality, and impacts from Seattle’s unprecedented growth. Finn Coven currently serves as director of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment and will remain in that role while taking on these additional responsibilities. Seattle was selected to be a founding member of the 100 Resilient Cities –  Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation, which will provide a grant to support and fund the position.

“I am proud to announce Jessica Finn Coven as Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Seattle,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Jessica’s experience and expertise in the complex issues of climate change, affordable housing, and inequity will be leveraged in this new role as she helps drive the City’s strategy to increase resilience, grow equitably and reduce disproportionate impacts on communities of color.”

As CRO, Finn Coven will report directly to Mayor Murray and oversee the development and implementation of a comprehensive Resilience Strategy for Seattle.

Appointing a CRO is an essential element of Seattle’s resilience building partnership with 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation. The 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) organization is part of a $164 million commitment by The Rockefeller Foundation to build urban resilience in 100 cities around the world. Seattle’s engagement with 100RC kicked off in October 2016 with a “Resilience Agenda-Setting Workshop,” and under Finn Coven’s leadership, the City is poised to take the next step in its resilience planning. 100RC will support the salary of the CRO as well as fully fund a Deputy CRO position to work with Finn Coven on the Resilience Strategy.

The CRO is an innovative feature of 100RC’s resilience building program, specifically designed to break down existing barriers at the local level, account for pre-existing resilience plans, and create partnerships, alliances and financing mechanisms that will improve resilience of all residents, with a focus on low-income and vulnerable populations.

“Jessica Finn Coven joins a network of peers from cities across the globe that will share best practices and surface innovative thinking,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. “She will become a global leader in resilience, and will be an asset for Seattle and other cities around the world.”

Seattle’s resilience initiative will focus on a unique combination of seismic risks, climate change, and the social and economic inequities that are exacerbated by Seattle’s rapid growth. Seattle needs to ensure that as we grow, we are doing so in a way that creates healthy communities with access to green space for all, responds to climate change, and tackles the health and environmental disparities present in Seattle. Finn Coven will be charged with fostering a citywide dialogue on solutions, helping Seattle to unite and build the collective capacity for change.

Finn Coven will receive personnel and technical support provided by 100RC and utilize resilience building tools from private, public, academic, and NGO sector organizations that have partnered with 100RC. Seattle’s Resilience Strategy will be a holistic, action-oriented blueprint to build partnerships and alliances, financing mechanisms, and will pay particular attention to meeting the needs of low-income families, communities of color and other vulnerable populations.

About Seattle CRO Jessica Finn Coven
Jessica Finn Coven has been the Director of the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment since June 2015. The Office, in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders, develops innovative environmental solutions that foster equitable, vibrant communities and shared prosperity.

Finn Coven previously served as state director of Climate Solutions, where her work focused on developing legislative and policy strategies to reduce pollution contributing to climate change and grow an equitable clean-energy economy in Washington state. Jessica also worked as program director for the U.S. Climate Action Network. From 2002 to 2005, she was a global warming campaigner for Greenpeace in Washington DC. She also spent several months working in Beijing as a policy advisor for Greenpeace China.

About 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation
100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st Century. 100RC provides this assistance through funding for a CRO in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a resilience strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. For more information, visit:

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Mayor Murray designates long-neglected Mt. Baker sites for revitalization

Today, Mayor Ed Murray signed a resolution to designate an area of the Mt. Baker neighborhood a Redevelopment Opportunity Zone (ROZ). The resolution opens the door for a new partnership between the Washington State Department of Ecology, the City of Seattle, and the nonprofit Mt. Baker Housing, creating a welcoming Mt. Baker town center and 150 new affordable homes for low-income families.

“This is a win for the environment, a win for affordable housing, and a win for a more livable Mt. Baker neighborhood,” said Mayor Murray. “We continue to develop new and innovative partnerships to support more affordable homes across Seattle. Today we celebrate a positive step forward to support sustainability and healthy communities.”

Mt. Baker Housing is a community-based nonprofit dedicated to providing affordable homes in Southeast Seattle. Phase one of the Mt. Baker Gateway project is intended to build two new mixed-use buildings with approximately 150 units of affordable housing and 15,000-30,000 square feet of new commercial retail space. In addition, the proposed redevelopment will provide new connections from the residential neighborhoods and parks to the Mt. Baker commercial area and light rail station.

“The Mt. Baker Hub Business District has long waited for a champion to clean up and redevelop this corner,” said Bruce Harrell, City Council President. “I applaud Mt. Baker Housing for rising to the occasion and working collaboratively with the City of Seattle, Department of Ecology, and the community to enliven this soon-to-be prominent gateway. We will work hard to make sure the homes are affordable and this is a place of great diversity and vitality.”

“This affordable housing and environmental remediation project is in keeping with Mt. Baker Housing’s tradition of working on difficult projects,” said Mike Rooney, Executive Director of Mt. Baker Housing. “Throughout our 30-year history we’ve reworked properties that others had given up on and turned them into affordable housing for Rainier Valley residents, new and old. I’m also inspired that our new Gateway project will be adjacent to our original site, property Mt. Baker Village.”

The affordable housing project will be seeking financing to include Low Income Housing Tax Credits, City of Seattle Office of Housing funds, and other sources. The project expects to break ground in 2019 and complete construction in 2020.

“The Rainier Valley is home to the most racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse neighborhoods in Seattle,” said Diane Narasaki, Executive Director of Asian Counseling and Referral Service. “It is also economically diverse, and has for many years been home to low-income people and the workers who make our city run. As Seattle’s population booms, and property values rise, the Rainier Valley’s residents are being pushed out of the neighborhood. The Mt. Baker Gateway Project’s 150 new, affordable workforce units will help the neighborhood retain its beautiful diversity and character, and provide much needed housing and economic development in one of the neighborhoods that most needs it.”

Mt. Baker Housing will be the first non-governmental organization to receive funds under the state’s Brownfield Redevelopment Trust Fund created in 2013. The organization will use the funds to help complete an environmental cleanup of a former gas station and remediation from historic dry cleaning practices.

“This cutting-edge project demonstrates how environmental cleanup grants can transform our communities for the better,” said Ecology Director Maia Bellon.

Mt. Baker Housing reached a significant milestone last December when it entered into a Prospective Purchaser Consent Decree with the Washington State Department of Ecology on the environmental remediation plan. With the consent decree and ROZ in place, Ecology will provide $400,000 to begin environmental work on the site, and another $1.1 million is in Governor Jay Inslee’s budget for this project.

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Mayor Murray, Councilmember Juarez statements on Trump administration approving Dakota Access Pipeline

Today, the Army announced that it intends to issue the final easement necessary for the Dakota Access Pipeline. It also terminated the Environmental Impact Statement process with no discernible reason. Once the easement is issued, construction can begin immediately. Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Debora Juarez released the following statements after the announcement:

“Today’s reversal on the environmental impact statement by the Army Corps is clearly a political decision made with complete disregard for the impacts of the Dakota Access Pipeline on tribal lands and the environment,” Mayor Murray said. “Setting such a dismissive and careless precedent continues a historic pattern of violating tribal treaty rights.

“Complete disregard for tribal rights and interests sets a dangerous course not only for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, but also has the potential to reverberate throughout Indian Country. This action also shows no respect for the right to clean drinking water for all. We, as allies, must add our voices and put a stop to this injustice. The tribe continues to fight this battle in court and the City of Seattle continues to stand behind them, in the name of tribal sovereignty everywhere and in thinking ahead to the protection of our Pacific Northwest tribal neighbors and our critical environmental safeguards. We will not stand by as tribal citizens are treated as second class communities.”

“I object to the President’s executive order as implemented by the Army Corps today, which unlawfully deprives Native peoples of their rights of due process and meaningful consultation,” said Councilmember Juarez. “This action single-handedly ignores the supreme law of the land – The 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie – waives due process, and undermines American democratic principles of transparency and public accountability.

“At the President’s direction, the Corps’ order to halt the EIS process and approve the pipeline has added insult to the very real injuries suffered by the Standing Rock Sioux, and by extension, the rights of indigenous peoples everywhere.”

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Mayor Murray and Councilmember Juarez statements on pipeline projects

Today, Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5, North Seattle) issued the following statements on the Trump administration’s decision to revive the Keystone and Dakota Access oil pipeline projects:

“The City of Seattle passed a resolution in September supporting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s opposition to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline threatening their land,” said Mayor Murray. “Since then, mayors and leaders from across the country have spoken out against this project. The pipeline threatens the Tribe’s cultural resources and is a significant environmental threat to the communities surrounding it. Opposition to the project has been widespread, as has opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline. These pipelines aim to extend our country’s dependence on oil at a time when American innovators and businesses are building the clean energy economy of the future. We must move our country away from fossil fuels to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, a fact that is underscored by 2016 being the hottest year since modern record-keeping began and the third consecutive year of record high temperatures. I urge President Trump to listen to scientists and reverse his actions on these pipelines. And I remain committed to standing in solidarity with tribal nations in their opposition to these projects and to do all we can in Seattle to build a clean energy future.”

“The Standing Rock Sioux are not protesters holding up a project, they are the people of this land, they are the protectors of this water,” said Councilmember Juarez. “Their voice in this decision is not a matter of political leanings, it is a matter of respecting our 200 years of federal Indian law and jurisprudence, including the 1868 Treaty of Ft. Laramie. The U.S. Constitution has upheld treaties as “the supreme law of the land.” As such, consultation and cooperation by the United States with tribal sovereign nations is required before any federal action is taken that affects treaty lands and resources. It is inappropriate and unlawful for any governmental leader to suggest that this process should be forced through or ignored while making critical decisions that affect treaty rights.”

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