Tag Archives: stormwater runoff

Futurewise Urges a No Vote on Initiative 1053

Initiative 1053 is an initiative sponsored by Tim Eyman and backed by  corporate funding from oil companies like BP and Conoco Phillips and banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and US Bank. It is special interest legislation trying to give a minority of 1/3 of the State Legislators supporting these corporate interests veto power over the majority of Legislators. It is undemocratic and unconstitutional. Yet that doesn’t stop these special interests from trying to pull a fast one on Washington voters.

Many statewide organizations are opposing Initiative 1053. Futurewise has joined the Coalition against Initiative 1053 as have other environmental groups like the Washington Conservation Voters and the Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club. Futurewise describes itself as  “a statewide public interest group working to promote healthy communities and cities while protecting farmland, forests and shorelines today and for future generations.” It recently celebrated its 20th anniversary of working.

Futurewise provides the following reason for their opposition to Initiative 1053:

Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053 would institute minority rule in Washington state, empowering one-third (plus one) of the members of either the state House or Senate to prevent the majority from closing tax loopholes or raising new revenues.  BP, Conoco Philips, and Tesoro are some of the top funders behind I-1053. For the past two years, the statewide Environmental Community of which Futurewise is a member, has prioritized the Clean Water Act of 2010 – a $100 million investment in clean water infrastructure through either a fee or tax on polluters. If I-1053 passes, it will be even more difficult to make polluters like petroleum companies pay to clean up their messes. Futurewise encourages you to Vote NO I-1053.

I think Futurewise is understating the impact of I-1053 on our ability to enact legislation requiring polluters to pay for cleaning up waste hazards caused by the use of their products. The Legislature earlier this year was unable to pass legislation by a simple majority to require polluters like the oil companies to pay for cleaning up stormwater runoff caused by oil and other toxic chemicals.  Initiative 1053 would allow 1/3 of the members of either the House or the Senate to block such legislation. I think it would make it not just more difficult but almost impossible to pass such legislation under these circumstances.

Futurewise is also urging a No vote on Initiative 1107 pushed by the beverage industry to repeal taxes on pop and candy, They are urging a YES vote on Referendum 52 to fund rehabbing schools for energy efficiency and a YES vote on  Initiative 1098 for raising revenues for education and health care by taxing the top 1.2% of taxpayers on their income.

Take the Money and Run – Oil Interests File Lawsuit to Exempt Themselves from Toxics Cleanup Initiative 97

The Automotive United Trades Organization in Washington State is just the latest example of greed and shortsightedness by businesses wanting to make money but not pay the environmental costs to society of their doing business.

This week they filed a lawsuit to try to exempt themselves from the provisions of Initiative 97 – a popular Washington State initiative overwhelmingly passed by voters to cleanup toxic waste.

Former State Senator and also former Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge is the attorney for the Automotive United Trade Association. It seems Talmadge is also willing to take the money as their attorney.
This is disappointing to say the least as Talmadge supported the original legislation, Initiative 97,  and had courted progressives and liberals in his campaigns.

Initiative 97 was passed by Washington voters in 1988. The vote was a 2 step process, Voters approved the measure with an 84% yes vote, choosing the citizens alternative over a legislative alternative. The law has been in effect for 20 years.  Citizens collected signatures to place I-97 on the ballot. The Legislature came up with an alternative that the oil industry supported because they would have had to pay less.  Voters approved the measure with an 84% yes vote, then choose the  citizens alternative over a legislative alternative by a 56% yes vote.

The current fight has come about because of efforts to increase the toxics tax to fund stormwater cleanup projects across the state.The bill is still under consideration in the special session. Oil industry officials are strongly opposing passing legislation to increase the toxics tax and threatened to take the issue to court if the Legislature increased it.

Now that the legislature is in Special Session, the oil industry  has decided not to wait to see what the Legislature does but has gone ahead with the suit anyway. The suit has been filed by the independent gas stations association called AUTO. The action ends a 20 agreement by oil interests not to challenge the        bill,  which they agreed to when the legislature in 1988 put the industry alternative on the ballot  along with the citizen’s version.

Currently before the legislature  this year are two bills:

HB 3181Concerning the clean water act of 2010 funding cleanup of water pollution and other programs necessary for the health and well-being of Washington citizens through an increase in the tax on hazardous substances has 35 sponsors. The substitute house bill 3181 has been watered  down such that  it  increases the 0.7 percent Hazardous Substance Tax (HST) rate by an additional 0.1 percent annually until the additional tax rate is 0.4 percent.”  The original bill proposed increasing the tax to 2%. The bill still has not been acted on.

SB 6851 has  24 sponsors and  has a substitute which  proposes that
Beginning July 1, 2010, the Hazardous Substance Tax rate is increased by 0.5 percent (combined tax rate is 1.2 percent).
The additional taxes are deposited as follows:
Ÿ 85 percent into a new Storm Water Account; and
    15 percent into the Motor Vehicle Account.
A new Storm Water Account is created in the state treasury. DOE is responsible for distributing funds in the account to local governments as grants.
Revenues deposited into the Motor Vehicle Account must be used to fund activities or projects that address contamination of storm water through transportation infrastructure.
Revenues may not be used for construction of storm water facilities associated with new road construction”

The Senate also has taken no further action on this bill. Legislators should act to approve this legislation

The Environmental Priorites Coalition has listed passage of legislation to cleanup polluted storm water runoff as one of their three top priorities. They have labeled this legislation as the Clean Water Act of 2010.

The  toxics  tax has been used to clean up toxic substances caused by the use of toxic chemicals. Polluters should pay for the costs of toxic cleanup

Stormwater runoff is heavily polluted by petroleum products like oil and gasoline leaking from cars and trucks as well as pesticides and herbicides.

The oil industry is once again just trying to take the profits from the sale of gasoline and other oil products and take no responsibility for the environmental and health costs caused by the use of these chemicals. They would rather have taxpayers pay all the cleanup costs. The courts need to uphold the toxic cleanup tax and the Legislature is justified to use this tax to cleanup stormwater runoff. Legislators should act to approve this legislation now that would increase the tax.

(Note – In 1987 I was the Campaign Director for Initiative 97 and coordinated the signature drive by citizens to collect the signatures that qualified I-97. Steve Zemke)