Image credit: Joe Shlabotnik, Creative Commons

Why do clean elections matter for the environment?

From climate change to clean water, from healthy forests to safer food, progress on our most important environmental priorities is being crippled by the outsized role of money in politics. In particular, unbridled corporate funding of electoral campaigns has put politicians in the pocket of polluters.

If we want effective environmental policies, we have to reduce the undue influence that oil companies, corporate polluters and big lobby groups have in blocking good laws from being passed and influencing passage of bills that hurt the public.

One important way to clean up the electoral process is by providing public money for use in election campaigns. Public funds allow candidates to rely less on polluter money to pay for campaigns, and more on donations from grassroots constituents. It helps equalize the playing field between big polluters and ordinary voters, and end the “pay to play” culture of today’s politics.

Why would cleaner elections matter for the planet? In poll after poll, voters say that they care about the environment, but it’s hard to get elected officials to take the lead on and support environmental legislation. Environmental issues often end up taking a back seat to the political priorities proffered by big corporate donors. And by the same token, politicians who are the biggest recipients of polluter money often go to great lengths to quash pro-environment bills. Getting big money out of elections would help give environmental issues a fair shake in government.

More honey, less money!

Washingtonians: vote to stop dirty money from polluting our politics and planet

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that money equals free speech, agrochemical giants like Monsanto and Bayer have spent combined $6 million on political campaign dollars in Washington State alone. That’s just a fraction of the tens of millions agrochemical companies spent nationally since 2010 to push anti-environmental laws and regulations that protect their profits, even if it means putting us at risk.

Thanks to dangerous pesticides like neonicotinoids and glyphosates, agrochemical companies like Monsanto and Bayer threaten bees whom we depend on for every 1 in 3 bites of food that we eat.

To protect the bees, butterflies and our food, we must address the toxic influence money has on our democracy and the environment. That’s why Friends of the Earth is partnering with local organizations in Washington State to pass two important statewide ballot initiatives to get poisonous corporate money out of politics.

If we want things to change, we have to reform the system
Nationally, I-735 demands a Constitutional Amendment to undo Citizens United and ensure we all have an equal voice and equal say with our government.
I-735 says:

  1. Money is not speech.
  2. Corporations are not people.
  3. Political contributions must be transparent & regulated.

At the local level, I–1464 the Washington Government Accountability Act brings the local reforms and political accountability needed to block the toxic influence of money in elections while empowering small donors so that everyone in Washington has an equal voice.
I-1464 will:

  1. Inform voters about who is influencing elections by requiring SuperPAC political ads to say who is paying for them;
  2. Block big campaign contributions from lobbyists and contractors, while closing the revolving door between government officials and lobbyists;
  3. Empower Washington’s voters by refocusing politicians’ attention back to everyday Washingtonians and small-donor political contributions, and away from mega-donors and their special interests.

Together, we’re pushing back against the influence of big anti-environmental companies so that our voices are not drowned out by powerful special interests. We can win I-735 & I-1464 and keep big money out of politics – but we need your help.

Tips before you vote in Washington
  1. Click HERE to register to vote. The deadline to register in Washington is October 10, 2016. Other deadlines are HERE.
  2. Click HERE to contact your nearest County Elections Department post registration if you need to request a ballot, make a change to your registration, to find the nearest drop box or if you live in Pierce County, the closest in-person polling station.
  3. Click HERE to learn more about your voting rights and eligibility.
  4. Click HERE to learn about accessibility options.
  5. Make a plan when, where and how you are going to vote:- WHEN? Are you going to mail in your ballot early or deposit it in a drop box or at a polling station on or before Election Day, Tuesday, November 8?- WHERE? Click HERE to find your nearest ballot drop box.- HOW? Decide how to get to the closest drop box or polling station and offer to help others vote by carpooling with friends and family.