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.
The League supports measures that promote 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.
The 2019 Legislative Session passed significant Climate bills including:
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.
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions, put a price on carbon, and enact measures to promote climate resiliency.
Issue Team Chair: Vacant (Interim: Raelene Gold - rgold [at] lwvwa.org - 206-303-7218
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Our main goal this session continues to be reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to increase climate resilience and transitioning to clean renewable energy economy.
Last session, these bills passed requiring new residential buildings and appliances sold in the state be more energy efficient which reduces energy use and greenhouse gas emissions:
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
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Measures for the preparation for and prevention of wildfires, made great progress last session. Combined with bills from the 2018 session, there has been significant 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 did not pass, and will probably be reintroduced with a funding source that does not elicit so much opposition. There may be bills protecting forests as a carbon sink and protecting air quality related to wildfire smoke.
River protection has not benefited from such forward thinking. Years of drought impacting the orchardists with junior water rights are being addressed in Yakima Basin Integrated Plan which continues to receive both state and federal funding. Flooding concerns on the Chehalis River are addressed in the Chehalis River Integrated Plan which has received state funding. Also, concerns about sufficient salmon for orcas, resulted in the passage of a bill 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 bills prohibiting motorized or gravity siphon aquatic mining from certain rivers, and 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.
In the 2019 session, a major transportation bill was passed, providing funding and a timeline for a large number of transportation projects around the state. Other key measures that were passed include legislation advancing green transportation, enhancing a shift to electric vehicle use, increasing safety for pedestrians, and creating a state commercial aviation coordination commission.
Because the 2020 legislative session is the second half of the biennium, a short session, there will be fewer major bills passed. The goal for 2020 would normally be to further enhance green transportation and support for increased transit funding. However, what will be considered in the 2020 session depends almost entirely on the outcome of I-976 in November.
I-976 would reduce car tabs to $30 and would have devastating fiscal effects on transportation – especially transit – at all levels. If it passes, the emphasis will be on reducing the current transportation budget and making challenging decisions about priorities. If it fails, there will be opportunities to make incremental progress in green transportation and supplemental budget proposals.
As many communities across the nation have discovered, we must be vigilant in maintaining water purity and make sure our government representatives are applying due attention to addressing current challenges and preventing future ones. With increasing population and the effects of climate change, our supplies of fresh water are under stress. Abundant and pure water assures healthy people, safe recreation, healthy wildlife, and productive agriculture.
Our legislative goals for the 2020 session are to continue improving the quality and abundance of our state’s water including municipal water, ground water, and in-stream flows. The legislature made significant progress in 2019 to encourage voluntary cleanup projects, to identify and regulate toxic pollution, and to prohibit hydraulic fracturing in the exploration for and production of oil and natural gas, which can pollute surface and ground water.
We expect the legislature to reconsider several bills not enacted last session including:
HB 1831 Improving the testing of drinking water for emerging contaminants. Many pollutants emerging as threats to health are not tested for in Washington public water supplies. This bill would use the best science to prioritize the most serious contaminates and create rules for testing.