Tag Archives: Priorities for a Healthy Washington

Legislature Completes First Step in Passing Priorities for a Healthy Washington Bills

The environmental community is half way home this year in enacting their top four legislative bills collectively called Priorities for a Healthy Washington . The following four bills are still alive and moving, after having been passed by their house of origin in the Washington State Legislature before the Feb 19, 2008 cutoff date. They must now be passed by the other house.

* Climate Action and Green Jobs passed the House, 64 – 31.
* Local Solutions to Global Warming passed the Senate, 31 – 17.
* Evergreen Cities passed the House, 73 – 22.
* Local Farms – Healthy Kids passed the House, 95 -1;
companion legislation passed the Senate, 48 – 0.

Brief Description of bills taken from a recent e-mail from Priorities for a Healthy Washington:

* Climate Action and Green Jobs: The Climate Action & Green Jobs bill would lay the framework for limiting the sources and activities that cause the greatest amounts of global warming pollution in the state. It will also establish a program to prepare Washington workers for good jobs in the clean energy economy.

* Local Solutions to Global Warming: The choices made in local land use and zoning plans about where a growing population will live and work and how they will get around have a huge impact on global warming emissions. Local Solutions to Global Warming will help cities and counties shape communities in ways that will reduce climate pollution.

* Evergreen Cities: The Evergreen Cities bill would restore, retain and establish more trees and forests in our communities. The bill would also leverage partnerships with volunteers to steward the urban forests and provide funding for cities’ and counties’ forest plans.

* Local Farms – Healthy Kids: By getting more Washington fruits and vegetables into our schools, we can improve children’s health and create new and thriving markets for our farmers. The Local Farms – Healthy Kids bill will help preserve farmland and will expand children’s access to locally grown produce through our schools, food banks and farmers markets.

You can help keep the momentum going to pass these bills by contacting your representatives in the Washington State Legislature. Click on this Legislative link to find your legislators and send them an e-mail thanking them for their action to date and urging that they complete action by passing all four of the Priorities for a Healthy Washington bills coming from the other house.

Governor Gregoire to Announce Climate Action & Green Jobs Bill as Priority

At the Priorities for a Healthy Washington Legislative Workshop held in Seattle on Saturday, it was disclosed that Governor Gregoire was going to announce on Monday that the “Climate Action & Green Jobs” bill would be a Governor’s Request Bill. This action will elevate the visibility and importance of this legislation and add to the momentum to get this this bill passed this year.

The Climate Action & Green Jobs bill is one of the 4 bills the environmental community has selected as their priorities for the 2008 Legislative Session starting Monday. The other 3 priority bills being pushed by the environmental community deal with “Local Solutions to Global Warming“, “Evergreen Cities” and “Local Farms – Healthy Kids

from the Priorities for a Healthy Washington’s Legislative Proposal:

“The Climate Action and Green Jobs bill creates a structure and timeline for implementing the state’s global warming pollution reduction goals, and creates a program to prepare Washington workers for good jobs in the clean energy economy, providing pathways out of poverty for lower-income communities.

Accountability: The bill would make the Washington State Department of Ecology responsible for achieving the state’s emissions reduction goals. It would direct Ecology to develop responsible limits on all major sources of global warming pollution in the state.
Opportunity: The bill would create a competitive grants-based training program, to be funded and implemented in 2009, that will train and transition workers to clean energy jobs.
Regional solutions: The legislature would affirm the state’s participation in developing a regional market-based pollution trading system—like the one Washington is now helping to develop with numerous other western states and Canadian provinces.
Responsibility: requires reporting by those that are responsible for the greatest amount sources of global warming pollution.”

Gregoire’s Director of the Department of Ecology, Jay Manning, was the workshop’s lunch time speaker. Manning praised the environmental community for its successful efforts in developing the Priorities for a Healthy Washington’s Agenda and noted that being selected as one of the 4 priority bills gave a piece of legislation credibility in Olympia.

Over the last 6 year’s the success rate of passing the Priorities for a Healthy Washington’s 4 bills each year has increased, going from one bill passed the first year to seeing all four bills passed last year. Part of this success Manning noted was because of the environmental community’s accepting that sometimes compromise needed to be made. It’s willingness to be flexible has elevated the credibility of the environmental community in Olympia.

Manning noted that while the ideal solution to act on global warming was a national response, in the absence of action by the Bush Administration, it is necessary for the states and local cities and counties to do what they can.

Manning said that unlike other states, Washington State with its immense hydro power resources does not have a major CO2 problem from coal plants. Instead 50% of our CO2 emissions come from cars and other vehicles. This is why he said the state is appealing in Federal Court the recent decision by Bush’s EPA Administrator to deny Washington State and other states the ability to implement the California fuel emissions standards proposed as part of Clean Car Legislation enacted in some 16 states.

One goal will be to reduce the vehicle miles traveled (VMT)in the state. This includes trying to make fewer trips, driving less, increasing density and better planning to concentrate development with localized services, infilling undeveloped areas, and stopping building more roads.

Another component will be to continue to expand strong programs to reduce waste which Washington State leads the nation in. Recycling and waste reduction programs reduce the production of greenhouse gases.

There is a potential threat, Manning said, that there could be an further attempts by the Federal government to limit state action on global warming. He said the current efforts by state and local governments are concentrated on the West Coast, New England, and Wisconsin and Minnesota. He said that the recent West Coast Climate Initiative held in Portland Oregon had some 370 people in attendance and another 400 on the phone.

It is obvious that Manning and Governor Gregoire are already working hard on dealing with global climate change by trying to get Washington State to take action to reduce the production of greenhouse gases. This is not something you would have seen from Republican Dino Rossi if he had been elected.

And if you are concerned about global warming Republican Dino Rossi is not someone you want to see become Governor in the future. The Sierra Club lobbyist in Olympia, Craig Engelking, noted that when Rossi was in the Legislature he “voted for a bill that would have said Washington’s environmental standards could not exceed federal minimums.”

That means that if Rossi was Governor now he would not be appealing the recent decision by the EPA to deny Washington State the ability to implement California’s Clean Car standards, which exceed the Federal standards.

In addition, Engelking said “Rossi voted against a bill to create a privately funded Washington climate center that would research simple and innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Washington. The center would have also helped identify what types of impacts climate change could have on Washington and what we can do about it. (SB 5674, 2001)

Washington State Again Leads Nation in Recycling

Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington State has signed into law the electronic waste recycling bill, SB 6428, passed by the Legislature. This puts Washington State into the forefront of dealing with this issue. The New York Times today credited Washington state as “enacting the most far-reaching electronic waste bill to date.”

In her press release Gov. Gregoire notes “This bill puts our market-based economy to work for the environment…. “It’s a responsible step in the best interests of the public, because no matter who owns the equipment at the end of its life, it will be recycled – free of charge.”

In an article in the Seattle PI today byThe Associated Press, Rachel La Corte states that Washington state residents throw out more than a million TV’s and computer monitors each year. This figure comes from a two year study by the Department of Ecology.

Nationally about two million tons or 4,000,000,000 pounds of electronic waste are generated each year according to the U.S. environmental Protection Agency.

The New York Times notes that televisions and computers can contain up to 8 pounds of lead as well as other toxic materials like mercury and cadmium which can leach into and poison drinking water supplies.

The new Washington state law requires that computer and electronic companies establish and set up a program to collect and safely dispose of discarded electronics. Manufactures will pay for the system, rather than consumers paying to dispose of the old products.

We know consumers will still pay for it as part of overall system costs but still the disincentive to recycle when you have to pay for disposal when your TV dies is not there. You will be able to do it for free under the new law.

Hewlett Packard and the Washington Retail Association among others testified in support of the bill.

Locally this legislation was spearheaded by Washington Citizens for Resource Conservation.Further excellent analysis of the bill and their efforts can be found on their website.

The passage of this bill is one of the recent success stories of the environmental community here is Washington state. The e-waste recycling bill was picked as one of the 4 priorities of the environmental community this year under their Priorities for a Healthy Washington Campaign. Three out of their four prime bills were enacted.

The text of this legislation and the history of the Legislature’s actions on this bill can be seen at the official website for the Legislature. The following Washington State Senators were original sponsors of the bill:

Senators Pridemore, Esser, Poulsen, Morton, Schmidt, Fairley, Benson, Berkey, Regala, Kohl-Welles, Weinstein, Prentice, Kastama, Johnson, Thibaudeau, Kline, Eide, Shin, Rockefeller, Jacobsen, Haugen, Doumit, Oke, Franklin, Swecker, Carrell, Rasmussen, Spanel, Fraser, McAuliffe, Keiser, Brown, Finkbeiner, Brandland, Benton were prime sponsors of the original bill. You can send an e-mail to them to thank them for their support by clicking on their name above.

The final vote in the Senate was 38 to 11. In the House it was 69 to 29.

Washington Citizens for Resource Conservation is one of the success stories come out of progressive politics in Washington state. In 1979, I worked with others to put together and run Initiative 61 for deposits on beverage containers. It was an initiative to the Legislature. We secured 43 Legislative sponsors but the Legislature ultimately didn’t act.

I-61 was placed on the November ballot. We faced a record spending blitz at the time of over a million dollars by grocery stores like Safeway and bottling industry distributors for Coke and Pepsi among others.

Initially having over 70% support in the polls we wound up losing 43% to 57%. As a grassroots organization with little funds we couldn’t compete with their million campaign.

After the election the volunteers and campaign people involved in our organization, Citizens for Returnable Beverage Containers, were polled to see what they wanted to do next. Despite our loss they wanted to continue working for increased recycling. We reformed under the banner of Washington Citizens for Recycling and successfully engaged over the years in promoting recycling in Washington State.

A number of years ago the organization changed names to Washington Citizens for Resource Conservation, to broaden its focus but it continues to be an active and successful grassroots organization in this state. A special thanks to all those continuing the good fight.

Environmental Activists Score Huge Success in Washington Legislature

I just received an e-mail from Amy Zarrett of the Priorities for a Healthy Washington Campaign and wanted to share with you their legislative report on the just completed Washington State Legislative Session. They have done a fantastic and successful job pushing their selected bills and deserve recognition and thanks from us.

For the fourth year in a row the state’s conservation community selected four proactive proposals to bring to the legislature with the hope of improving the lives of people and protecting our quality of life. We wrapped up the session with a stunning .750 batting average with three out of the four bills passing. Additionally, the effort to halt any attacks on community protection and land use laws was a complete success.

The issues with their end-of-session status are listed below. To see how each Representative and Senator voted, click on the link at the end of any issue update. Also you can read the news of session as reported in the state capitol’s daily paper on March 9th.

Launch Electronic Waste Recycling
SSB 6428 passed the Senate on a strong bi-partisan vote of 38-11 on Monday, March 6th. The House had recently approved the same bill with a vote of 69-29. This bill will provide safe, free, and convenient recycling for the millions of outdated computers, monitors and TVs piling up in our homes, schools, and offices. Each year, these obsolete electronics turn into millions of pounds of “e-waste” which contains lead, mercury and other substances too toxic to be thrown in the trash. The legislation will create hundreds of jobs and establish the most extensive manufacturer responsibility requirements in the nation.

Clean Up Puget Sound
The bill to get failing septic systems cleaned up (HB1458) passed the House on Saturday February 11th with strong bi-partisan support in the House, 70-25. The Senate passed the bill 28-15 on February 28th. The bill is part of the Governor’s legislative package to implement early actions under her Puget Sound Initiative. The bill is directed at failing systems dumping sewage into Hood Canal and parts of Puget Sound and provides funding and flexibility for local governments to design programs to require repair of failing systems. A grant and loan program is authorized to assist low-income homeowners. The legislature passed the Governor’s Puget Sound Budget for 2006 of $56 million to accelerate toxic cleanups and prevent new pollution.

Energy Independence through Renewable Fuels
The Renewable Fuels Standard bill (SB6508) passed the House earlier in session with a strong, bipartisan vote, and the Senate on a somewhat closer 29-19 vote (with 1 absent) on March 6th. This proposal would reduce Washington’s dependence on fossil fuels and provide a new market for Washington crops. This legislation will grow a new biofuels economy by including a minimum percentage of biofuels in the statewide fuel mix. The standards start at 2%, and ramps up to 5% for biodiesel and 10% for ethanol. This bill will attract biofuels jobs, provide farm income, and reduce the state’s vulnerability to volatile oil markets.

Protect Kids’ Health by Eliminating Toxic Flame Retardants
Despite strong bipartisan support, the legislature failed for the second consecutive year to pass important legislation to phase out the use of toxic flame retardants (HB 1488) called PBDEs that are rapidly building up in breast milk, our bodies, and in wildlife. Out-of-state chemical industry interests lobbied aggressively against the bill, spreading misinformation about its impacts. PBDEs are chemical cousins of long-banned PCBs, and are known to impair learning, behavior, and development in lab animals. The bill was supported by the Washington State Nurses Association, the Washington chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and many more public health, faith, and environmental organizations.

Defending our Communities
All the efforts to roll back land use protections were halted by an effective campaign to maintain community safeguards. In addition, several successful bills will help resolve long-standing conflicts on Growth Management issues. We all value the place where we live. The security and protection of our homes, our communities, and even our drinking water depend on having balanced laws that allow growth while protecting farmland, shorelines, and our quality of life. That is why these attacks were stymied and why positive reforms passed to help give communities more flexibility as they responsibly implement land use improvements