ENVIRONMENT

JUmp to: climate change; energy; forests & Rivers; Shorelines, Wetlands & Land usetransportation; water

CLIMATE CHANGE

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions, put a price on carbon, and enact measures to promote climate resiliency.

Issue Team Chair: Phyllis Farrell – phyllisfarrell681 [at] hotmail.com (360) 789-8307
Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 
2019 Legislative Session Expectations

With last year's failure to pass either the Governor's Carbon Tax Bill (SB 6203) or Initiative 1631, the Carbon Emissions Fee Measure, Washington State is left with no current solution to meet its climate goals. Passage of a carbon pricing bill is unlikely to be attempted again, but the League expects and would support bills promoting clean energy and clean transportation, energy efficient buildings, the expansion of renewable energy and other measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote climate resiliency. 

Bills the League Supports
  • HB 1113 Aligns Washington State's greenhouse gas reduction goals with the 2015 Paris Agreement and current climate change science assessments. 
  • HB 1110 Reduces greenhouse gas emissions with transportation fuels
  • HB 1112 Reduces greenhouse gas emissions from Hydrofluorocarbons
  • HB 1114 Reduces Food Waste Causing Hunger and Environmental Impacts
  • HB 1211 Supporting Washington's Clean Energy Economy by transitioning to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future


ENERGY
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions, put a price on carbon, and enact measures to promote climate resiliency.

Issue Team Chair:
 Elyette Weinstein
 – eweinstein [at] lwvwa.org – (360) 791-5840
Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 
2019 Legislative Session Expectations


The Governor’s office is writing request legislation extending the Energy Independence Act (EIA) beyond 2020. The EIA is the statute that codifies Initiative 937 (passed in 2006). The Act requires utilities which serve over 25,000 people to incrementally replace their carbon-based energy with renewable energy. By 2020, 15% of each utility’s power resources must be derived from renewable energy.

The Governor will have his bill introduced in both legislative houses during the 2019 legislative session. This bill will require 100% clean and/or renewable energy by a specific date to be determined.

In addition, bills proposing enhanced appliance efficiency and updated building codes will be introduced during the 2019 legislative session.

Bills the League Supports
  • HB 1128 Requires that gas and electric companies (companies) use at least a minimum “greenhouse gas adder” (adder) to calculate the cost of increased greenhouse gas emissions associated with the power resource selections they consider each year. The companies must also apply the adder when evaluating and selecting conservation policies, programs, and targets. The Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) regulates investor-owned utilities. This bill requires that the UTC use at least the minimum adder cost to evaluate the companies’ resource selections and conservation activities. The minimum adder cost will increase each year. HB 1128 also authorizes the UTC to adopt an alternative form of utility regulation, provided that the agency considers several factors including system reliability, safety and efficiency, greenhouse gas reduction, customer diversity, engagement and protection. A utility may also submit a plan of alternative regulation for UTC consideration.
  • SB 5118 Protects the right of utility customers to generate their own electricity. Protection of this right serves to encourage private investment in and production of renewable energy resources in our state. Unless specifically allowed by statute, electric utilities would be prohibited from establishing compensation arrangements or interconnection requirements that limit the ability of customers to generate or store electricity for consumption on their premises. The League will support this bill.
  • HB 1211SB 5116 The Governor’s Office has written legislation which limits and eventually eliminates use of fossil fuel generated electricity. The League will support this bill. Timeline for actions to be taken include: 
  • Starting January 1, 2026, utilities may not sell coal generated energy in our state; 
  • Starting 1 January 1, 2030 through December 31, 2039, at least 80% of the energy that utilities sell in our state must come from non-emitting electric generation, renewable resources or other greenhouse gas reducing technology. Utilities can use alternative compliance options for the remaining 20% of the energy that they sell in our state; 
  • From January 1, 2040 through December 31, 2044, at least 90% of the energy that utilities sell in our state must come from non-emitting electric generation, renewable resources or other greenhouse gas reducing technology. Utilities can use alternative compliance options for only 10% of the energy that they sell in our state; 
  • By January 1, 2045, utilities may not sell any fossil fuel-generated energy in our state. 

FORESTS & RIVERS

Protect our forests from destructive wildfires and logging practices. Protect our northwest public lands and rivers systems.

Issue Team Chair: Raelene Gold – rgold [at] lwvwa.org – (206) 303-7218
Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 
2019 Legislative Session Expectations

Climate Change will continue causing major impacts to our state's natural resources and resource-dependent rural economies. The National Climate Assessment (NCA4) for the Northwest details the those changes, which should guide our state natural resource planning and decision making.

Our state forest lands are increasingly at risk for larger and more frequent wildfires, pest disease, and tree die-off. We have seen devastation from wildfires since the 2015 Okanagan Complex fire overcame DNR’s resources and resulted in a $178 million bill requiring a special legislation appropriation. Subsequent legislation was passed to address increased preparation and prevention of wildfire, especially to stop small wildfires early. In 2018 there were 1700 fires burning 350,000 acres, though most were contained early and were less than 10 acres. Notably 39% are on the west side and 95% caused by humans. Summer 2018 featured an increase of oppressive smoke from outside our state, impacting those with pulmonary disease and restricting recreation and tourism, heightening the importance of this issue.

Our rivers are being impacted with lower summer flows, rising water temperatures and pollution that negatively impact our migrating salmon, aquatic life and available water for irrigation, navigation and recreation. The crisis over the decline in the Southern resident Orca population that is dependent on declining Chinook salmon, has heightened interest in the breaching or removal of the four Snake River dams that block salmon to and back from their extensive habitat in central Idaho. We support state study of dam removal that considers salmon and the effects to hydropower needs, navigation and agriculture transport. We have followed the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, but have increasing concerns the old plan does not consider the effects of climate change on the future of the basin.

Prioritizing funding requests for the Departments of Natural Resources and for Ecology will be a priority for us this year. Hillary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands, is requesting the Wildfire appropriation be doubled to $55 million ($38 million operating, $17 million capital) for the Department of Natural Resources in the 2019-2021 budget. Wildfire preparation funding would go to more firefighters, equipment, helicopters, and training. Wildfire prevention funding would go to thinning, prescribed burns, and public education for resilient FireWise communities. Commissioner Franz has also requested $90 million ($22 operating, $68 capital) to support salmon habitat restoration and water quality--action items from the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force, Puget Sound Partnership and Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

Bills the League Supports
  • HB 1011 Working forests real estate disclosures. Bill insures disclosure to residential buyers that property is near a “working forest” and its operations are protected.
  • HB 1013 Extends time and expands scope of the Walla Walla watershed pilot project. 
  • HB 1028 Rural jurisdictions allowed to designate roads or highways for off-road vehicles. 
  • HB 1036 Insures continuous production for salmon and hatcheries in Southwest Washington coastal waters. 
  • HJM 4000 Supporting the continued research, development, production, and application of biochar from our forests and agricultural lands.
  • SB 5010 Allowing Fire Districts to annex land parcels to insure protection fees are paid. 
  • SB 5019 Extends expiration date of fire service mobility acts.
  • SB 5196 National Guard payment for state active service for wild land fire response duty. State National Guard is an important component of state combined training and wildfire response teams. 
Bills the League Opposes: 
  • HB 1052 Agency rule making would be prohibited to relieve rural economies. This course of action hampers enforcement of environmental laws. 
Bills the League is Watching 
  • SB 5130 Funding for Fish Barrier Removal by increasing transportation revenues. 

SHORELINES, WETLANDS, & LAND USE

Protect our Shoreline Management, Growth Management & State Environmental Policy Acts from efforts to weaken them.


Issue Team Chair: Karen Luetjen – khluetjen [at] lwvwa.org 
Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 
2019 Legislative Session Expectations

Response to the Orca crisis will likely result in legislative action in 2019. The November 2018 report of the Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) Task Force convened by Governor Inslee made 36 recommendations, of which 10 could be addressed in state legislation. No specific bills are pre-filed at present.

However, in his 2019 budget, Governor Jay Inslee asked for $1.1 billion to restore salmon, improve habitat, reduce vessel disturbance and reduce toxics in the water to save Southern Resident Orcas. Key requests include funds for an Orca Recovery Coordinator to be the point of contact with the Governor and the SRKW Task Force and operating funds for the Department of Ecology to plan and research reductions in wastewater pharmaceuticals and toxins that affect forage fish and threaten Orcas. Funding for changing rules to increase dissolved gas allowances in dam spills will benefit salmon. The Governor’s budget also requests increased funding for enforcement of existing water quality provisions.

Also, WA Dept of Natural Resources Commissioner Hilary Franz requested budget funds for restoring aquatic environments, researching ocean acidification and lessening storm water runoff, among other initiatives.

Pre-filed Bills:

  • HB 1037 Concerning the use of chemicals to prevent the decline of aquaculture production. The bill would require the Department of Ecology to approve a pesticide for use in the near shore environment. League expects to oppose this bill.
  • HB 1031 Reducing government imposed obligations associated with bulkhead maintenance or repairs. This bill proposes to waive environmental guidelines for all branches of government regarding repair or maintenance of existing bulkheads or bank protection structures. League expects to oppose this bill.
  • HB 1051 Focusing growth management act requirements on larger counties experiencing population growth. The Growth Management Act (GMA) was adopted in 1990 to place local control on planning for growth. The Act sets forth criteria for urban and rural areas, protection of natural resources, and designation and protection of Critical Areas. would waive key provisions of the Growth Management Act for less populous counties. League expects to oppose this bill.


2019 Legislative Session Expectations

Concerns for this session include sustaining or increasing support for transit and rail, and assuring funding for infrastructure maintenance. As indicated in the Transportation Issue Paper, there is a wide range of issues that may come forth. Transportation policy is typically reflected in the Transportation budget, which is addressed later in the session than other policy matters.

Bills the League Supports
  • HB 1110 / SB 5412 Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels. This bill would limit the greenhouse gas emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035.
Bills the League is Watching
  • SB 5370 Establishing a state commercial aviation coordinating commission intended to plan for future commercial aviation capacity in the State. 
  • SB 5018 Changing the current flexible toll option on I-405 HOV lanes to a single HOV lane with no toll, reverting to the previous system.
The above two bills would allow voters to adjust the Sound Transit funding mechanisms adopted by the voters in 2016. These would have a detrimental effect on Sound Transit’s financing and ability to implement projects if passed.

  • SB 5037 Requiring a regional transit authority to receive additional approval from voters if the cost to complete a regional transit system plan approved by voters in 2016 increases beyond 54 billion dollars or any additions or subtractions of projects or significant project scope when compared to the system plan are made.
  • SB 5043 and SB 5044 Nullifying the imposition of certain taxes within regional transit authority boundaries.
  • SB 5042 Establishes a vehicle valuation method for a regional transit authority collecting a motor vehicle excise tax that is based on Kelley blue book or national automobile dealers association values. This would change the basis used by Sound Transit to assess the motor vehicle excise tax approved as part of the ST3 package in 2016.
  • HB 1127 / SB 5336 Relating to advancing electric transportation would support development of transportation electrification plans by public electric utilities and asks the Department of Commerce to conduct a study.
  • SB 5220 Requiring election and authority of regional transit authority board members. Sound Transit’s Board is currently comprised of a combination of elected officials and appointed members but is not elected directly by the public. This bill would require that the Sound Transit board structure be modified and elected directly.
  • SB 5104 Relating to prohibiting local governments from imposing vehicle tolls would prohibit the City of Seattle from imposing a downtown vehicle toll, which is currently under consideration.


    WATER

    Continue improving the state and local governmental programs empowered to protect the quality and quantity of our water including municipal water, groundwater, and in-stream flows.

    Issue Team Chair: Martin Gibbins – mgibbins [at] lwvwa.org – (425) 361-5007
    Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 
    Right Now In Water

    The 2019 Legislative Session starts off with several bills related to Water, and a quick schedule turn around for the below bills:

    Find more information on these bills below. Click through to the official bill webpages where you can express your support to in the Comment on this bill box.

    Bills the League Supports
    • HB 1205 / SB 5323 Reducing pollution from plastic bags by establishing minimum state standards. These companion bills prohibit single-use thin plastic grocery carryout bags across the state. Such bags clog recycling equipment and pollute our waterways. The bills also require a pass-through charge of 10 cents on all paper or durable plastic carryout bags to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable carryout bags. Exemptions are included for bags used for produce, newspapers, dry cleaning, small hardware items, prescription drugs, unwrapped prepared foods, bakery goods, frozen foods, meat, fish, flowers, and potted plants, and exempt recipients of food assistance programs. Twenty-six jurisdictions in Washington State already have a reusable bag restriction ordinance. 
    • HB 1194SB 5135 Preventing toxic pollution that affects public health or the environment. These companion bills require the proactive identification of chemicals entering our environment that have been shown to degrade human health or the natural environment. As the Federal Government, through the EPA and other agencies, are demonstrating their intent to withdraw regulations for such chemicals, the states and local jurisdictions must take action. These bills are also part of the effort to recover Chinook salmon and Southern Resident Orcas in our region. 
    • HB 1013 Extending the Walla Walla watershed management pilot program. A 10-year pilot program was funded to increase stream flow in the Walla Walla River by encouraging cooperation among the stake-holders: home-owners, businesses, farmers, and tribes. This bill extends funding 2 more years for addtional monitoring and auditing the project. Although flow improvement objectives have not been achieved, we agree with most of the stake-holders must not abandon pursuing solutions for restoring flow in our rivers.  
    Bills the League Opposes
    • HB 1029 - Criteria for the consideration of environmental impacts under certain environmental laws. We believe the wording of this bill subordinates state regulation to changes in federal regulation under the clean water act and blocking the Legislature’s ability to implement clean water laws beneficial to the health of our state. 
    Bills the League is Watching
    • SB 5145 Prohibiting hydraulic fracturing in the exploration for and production of oil and natural gas. 

    The League of Women Voters of Washington is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.
    The League of Women Voters of Washington Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. LWVWA Education Fund contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. The League of Women Voters Education Fund does not endorse the contents of any web pages to which it links.

    League of Women Voters of the United States

    Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software