The League believes that global climate change is one of the most serious threats facing our nation and planet today. Climate change is having a significant effect on Washington State's natural and economic landscape. Addressing climate change impacts will require a sustained commitment to integrating climate information into legislation and government programs and services.
We are celebrating the unprecedented legislative session that addressed significant Climate bills, and expect to see those bills which did not pass this session reintroduced next session.
HB 1597 Integrates the natural gas upstream emissions rate and global warming potential rule into other environmental and energy laws.
SB 5489 Creating environmental justice task force.
SB 5811 Reducing emissions be making changes to the clean car standards and clean car program.
SB 5947 Establishing the sustainable farms and fields grant program.
SB 5971 Transportation funding, including carbon fee.
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
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Our main goal this session was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to increase climate resilience. The bills, described in the first section below, are part of the governor’s environmental legislative package designed to achieve this goal. The governor’s request legislation promotes climate resilience by requiring that new buildings and appliances be energy efficient. Both bills passed this legislative session and will soon become law, promoting the health of our climate.
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Most of the bills we support have passed or on way. What remains are the bills related to the budget negotiations. Our priorities are:
Measures for the preparation for and prevention of wildfires, made great progress this session. Combined with bills from the 2018 session, there has been strong progress towards wildfire preparation in integrated training and deployment among the various Department of Natural Resources (DNR) firefighters, National Guard members and Correctional Department prisoners. More DNR firefighters, helicopters and other equipment have been secured, and on the ground pre-planning included.
DNR has a twenty year forest health program to help prevent wildfires especially focused on at risk forests treatments of prescribed burning and thinning. Though DNR was well funded, the long term dedicated fund account sought by Commissioner Franz remains a goal for next year.
This summer’s wildfire season will test our preparation. One issue is the smoke also coming from British Columbia, Idaho, or Oregon that is a severe health and economic problem.
River protection has not benefited from such forward thinking, except in the area of irrigated agriculture where concerns about future drought continues to secure ample funding for the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan. Also, concerns about sufficient salmon for orcas, resulted in the passage of SHB 1579 Increasing Chinook salmon for Orcas, and restricting hydraulic project permits that damage the fish’s spawning habitat. The operating budget also included funding for a study regarding preparing for the outcome of the lower Snake River dams breeching or removal. The Transportation budget included funding for fish barrier removal, which will also help salmon, though a bill funding fish barrier removal for counties and cities helping connectivity did not pass.
Other important bills protecting rivers, including ESSB 5322, prohibiting motorized or gravity siphon aquatic mining from certain rivers, and HB 1187, revising hydraulic project eligibility standards for conservation district fish habitat enhancement, failed to pass. These are very common sense bills that we hoped will be introduced next year.
Thanks for all your help in getting so many bills passed!
HB 1889 / SB 5136 Establishing a water infrastructure program, funding projects for Office of Columbia River, Office of Chehalis Basin, Fish Barrier Removal Board and Department of Ecology. We oppose this bill due to omnibus bill overreach, lack of public transparency and participation in projects funded, not in Governor's budget and too extensive ($500M/biennium) considering other natural resource capitol budget requests this biennium. This bill may be Necessary to Implement the Budget, and thus may not be fully dead.
HB 1983 Concerning natural resource management activities.
SB 5701 Allows conveyance of state lands to a county for establishment of a community forest. Would weaken environmental protection and trust land payments.
Our goal for the 2019 session was to: Protect our Shoreline Management, Growth Management & State Environmental Policy Acts from efforts to weaken them.
New legislation will reduce threats to native Orca whales by protecting them from vessels, oil spills and toxins. Measures to improve access to Chinook salmon also passed, following the recommendations of Governor Jay Inslee’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force. Proposals that would have potentially harmed the nearshore environment were defeated, including bills promoting use of pesticides in aquaculture.
Many bills were proposed that could have weakened the Growth Management Act by waiving rules limiting growth in rural areas or speeding the time-frame on permit reviews, or other attempts to work around land use protections. None of these bills passed. To increase density in urban areas, 2SHB 1923 was passed but is not yet signed by the Governor, amid calls for him to veto it. We anticipate that HB 1544 to reform vesting practices will be reintroduced next year.
SB 5626 Safe Cultivation of Shellfish. Authorizes use of a pesticide in nearshore aquaculture.
SB 5630 Concerning the composition of the growth management hearings board. Places unnecessary new requirements on the hearings board that would disrupt the current effective structure.
SB 5639 Concerning the growth management hearings board (GMHB) hearings. Places unnecessary new requirements on the hearings board that would disrupt the current effective structure.
The information below reflects the current status of bills we are following, as of this week.
Our goal for the 2019 legislative session was to continue improving the state and local governmental programs empowered to protect the quality and quantity of our waste including municipal water, ground water, and in-stream flows. The legislature made significant progress on these goals. Most of the opportunity this session was in reducing pollution that finds its way into our water. Three notable successes this session include SHB 1290 reviews of voluntary cleanup projects, SSB 5135 to identify and regulate toxic pollution that affects public health or the environment, and SB 5145 to prohibit hydraulic fracturing in the exploration for and production of oil and natural gas. These bill should improve or prevent degradation of stream and ground water quality in the near future and in the long term, plus improve human health and the environment for orcas, salmon, and other wildlife.
Several bills either did not emerge from committee consideration or did not receive floor votes. These remain significant issues so we expect them to be reintroduced next session The biggest disappointment was the failure of ESSB 5323, reducing pollution from plastic bags, which passed the Senate committees and floor vote, then passed the House committees, was not called for a vote on the House floor. We expect this bill will be reintroduced next session. Other bills failing to emerge from committee and did not pass are described below.
Thank you to everyone who contacted your legislators to vote for these bills.
Although these bills did not succeed this session, they will likely be introduced again next session.
HB 1632 Reducing pollution from single-use plastic food service ware. These plastics are convenient, but when discarded often become litter and find their way into our water ways. This bill is a long-range phase out of single-use plastic utensils and condiment packaging with some exemptions.
HB 1831 Improving the testing of drinking water for emerging contaminants.