May 10, 2021 • 1HR 10M

Volts podcast: Washington Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon on the Evergreen State's excellent new climate laws

A millennial legislator talks about the challenges of getting stuff done.

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David Roberts
Volts is a podcast about leaving fossil fuels behind. I've been reporting on and explaining clean-energy topics for almost 20 years, and I love talking to politicians, analysts, innovators, and activists about the latest progress in the world's most important fight. (Volts is entirely subscriber-supported. Sign up!)
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Greetings! Last week, I wrote about the ambitious slate of climate and energy policies that the state of Washington has put in place over the last two years — culminating, a few weeks ago, with the passage of the Climate Commitment Act, which would cap the state’s emissions and reduce them 95 percent by 2050.

It’s a dizzying amount of progress in a short period of time.

As I talked to those involved about how it happened, one name came up again and again: Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D) of the 34th District, which encompasses West Seattle and areas southwest of the city.

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D) (Wikimedia)
Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D) (Wikimedia)

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Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians, had this to say: “Representative Joe Fitzgibbon is now a living legend for his miraculous legislative diplomacy and pure, selfless heart; he deserves to win every legislator of the year award in existence.”

This is not the kind of thing one typically hears about legislators after years of difficult negotiations, but in this case, it was a fairly typical sentiment. So I knew I needed to talk to Fitzgibbon — about his entry into politics, his approach, and what enabled this burst of progress.

Please enjoy our conversation. And please consider becoming a paid Volts subscriber, so that I can continue to do this work.