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
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Looking Towards the 2020 Session - starting January 13

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:

    • SHB 1112 Reduces greenhouse gas emissions from hydrofluorocarbons. 
    • SHB 1114 Reduces Food Waste Causing Hunger and Environmental Impacts. 
    • HB 1257 Clean buildings standards. 
    • HB 1444 Appliance efficiency
    • HB 2042 Green Transportation
    • E2SSB 5116 Supporting Washington's Clean Energy Economy by transitioning to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future. 
    • SB 5223 Solar Fairness Act/Electrical Net Metering
    However, work still needs to be done to align Washington’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Goals with the most recent climate science and the Paris Climate Agreements, to pass the priority Clean Fuels legislation which would align Washington’s standards with California, Oregon and British Columbia, and enact environmental justice measures. Also expect efforts to combat pollution from plastic (made from fossil fuel products), investments in renewable energy, and measures to put a price on carbon.
    Bills the League Supported in 2019 That Did Not Pass...and are still alive for 2020
    • SHB 1110 Reduces greenhouse gas emissions with transportation fuels. 
    • HB 1113 Aligns Washington State's greenhouse gas reduction goals with the 2015 Paris Agreement and current climate change science assessments. 
    • HB 1597 Integrates the natural gas upstream emissions rate and global warming potential rule into other environmental and energy laws.

    • HB 2009 Establishing a healthy environment for all by addressing environmental health disparities. 
    • SB 5323 Reducing pollution from plastic bags by establishing minimum state standards for the use of bags at retail establishments.
    • 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.

    ENERGY

    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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    Looking Towards the 2020 Session - starting January 13

    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:

      • Supporting Washington's Clean Energy Economy by transitioning to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future also passed.
      • A bill prohibiting volatile Bakken crude oil train transfer or storage passed that ensures that Bakken oil is processed to remove volatility preventing risk of explosions. This bill passed but has been challenged in court by the State of North Dakota as violating the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution.
    Bills the League Supported in 2019 That Did Not Pass...and are still alive for 2020
    • ESHB 1332 The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC or Council) coordinates all evaluation and licensing steps for siting certain proposed energy facilities. This bill streamlines and update EFSEC operations. It adds two tribal members to the Council, and tribal governments have a larger voice in energy site selection.
    • HB 1642 requires large utilities and allows small utilities, as well as retail electric cooperatives, to offer “on-bill” repayment programs to customers. “On-bill” programs give utility customers the option to pay back loans for energy conservation or renewable energy projects by having the repayment added to their utility bill. 
    • SB 5118 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. 
    • SB 5697 Updates wood stove emissions standards to address technological advancements in order to reduce fine particle pollution from wood stoves.
    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

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    Looking Towards the 2020 Session - starting January 13

    FORESTS

    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.

    RIVERS 
    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.

    Bills the League Supported in 2019 That Did Not Pass...and may still be alive for 2020

    FORESTS

    • HB 1940 Wildland fire early response. Supports DNR’s policy of putting out small fires early to prevent larger more catastrophic and costly fires.
    • HB 1941 Reviewing catastrophic wildfire impacts on communities.
    • 2SSB 5019 Extends expiration date of fire service mobility acts. 
    • 2SSB 5873 Creates a Community Forest Pilot Program at the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board to determine feasibility of establishing an ongoing competitive grant program. 
    • SSB 5996 Funding fire prevention and suppression activities. Creates a new dedicated source of funding, the Wildfire Prevention and Suppression Account, to be spent on: emergency firefighting, preparedness, prevention and forest health. Revenue source is a raise in the tax on property and casualty insurance premiums from 2.0% to 2.52%. Proactively addresses staggering annual costs of wildfires. In Senate Ways & Means Committee; hearing drew support, but insurance industry opposed funding by increasing the tax on property and casualty insurance.

    RIVERS

    • HB 1187 Revising hydraulic project eligibility standards for conservation district sponsored fish habitat enhancement bills. Good bill helping these beneficial projects move forward.
    • SB 5130 / HB 1228 Funding for Fish Barrier Removal by increasing transportation revenues. Because of a tribal culvert suit the State needs funding to remove barriers for fish to reach tributary spawning grounds; funding included in the Governor’s transportation budget.
    • SHB 2022 Proving funding options to local governments for fish passage barrier removals. Provides cities and counties with funding options and helps with opening up more salmon habitat beyond barriers.
    • ESSB 5322 Ensuring DOE compliance with the Clean Water Act by prohibiting motorized or gravity siphon aquatic mining and their discharges from certain waters of the state.
    • SB 5580 Increases Chinook salmon for orcas by increasing prey fish and habitat availability. Protects upstream tributary salmon spawning areas. Is one of the recommendations of the Governor’s southern resident killer whale task force.
    • SJM 8014 Concerning logging and mining in the upper Skagit watershed. Late introduced Memorial to the British Columbia government requesting they work with the City of Seattle and the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission to prevent logging and mining in the donut hole, between Manning Provincial Park and the North Cascades National Park. Cooperation would protect the upper Skagit watershed salmon spawning areas and water quality. Fifty percent of Puget Sound Chinook salmon come from the Skagit so is important to Orca recovery.
    Bill the League Opposed That Did Not Pass but may be rewritten and reintroduced:
    • 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 opposed 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.
    TRANSPORTATION
    Achieve a balanced transportation system that is integrated, adequate and effective, prioritizes maintenance and emphasizes emissions reduction and traffic reduction strategies such as public transportation.

    Issue Team Chair: Cynthia Stewart – stewdahl [at] comcast.net
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    Looking Towards the 2020 Session - starting January 13 

    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.

    Bills the League Supported in 2019 That Did Not Pass...and are still alive for 2020
    • HB 1110 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. 
    • HB 1508 / SB 5521 Concerning the distribution of connecting Washington funds to local and state transportation agencies would continue the 16-year transportation funding plan called Connecting Washington established in 2015. New revenue would support the new transportation funding package under development this year. 
    • HB 2068 Relating to providing discounted toll rates to certain individuals on certain tolled facilities would establish a program that would provide a 40% discount in tolls on the following roads for people in the TANF and food stamp programs. Roads include SRs 167, 405 and 509.
    • HB 1664 / 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.  
    • HB 1228 / SB 5130 Increasing transportation revenues to help fund state fish barrier removal.
    • SB 5811 Reducing emissions by making changes to the clean car standards and clean car program. 
    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! 
    Looking Towards the 2020 Session - starting January 13 

    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.

    Bills the League Supported in 2019 That Did Not Pass...and are still alive for 2020 

    We expect the legislature to reconsider several bills not enacted last session including: 

    • HB 1165 Encouraging low-water landscaping practices as a drought alleviation tool. Primarily, prohibits condo and homeowners associations from using drought-resistant or wildfire ignition-resistant landscaping or requiring residents to water laws and landscaping during droughts.
    • 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.

    • HB 1853 Developing and coordinating a statewide don't drip and drive program to reduce non-point runoff, a primary source of pollution in our streams and the Sound.
    • HB 1860 Addressing lead in drinking water in schools. No amount of lead contamination is safe, especially for children, and our schools should have the purest water available.
    • ESSB 5323 Reducing pollution from plastic bags and HB 1632, Reducing pollution from single-use plastic food service ware. These sources of pollution may not represent a large problem for water quality, but they do degrade our water environment for recreation and wildlife.
    You can read more about these bills at the links. Please watch this space in January and February of 2020 for opportunities for you to influence legislation on our water quality and abundance.



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