Fighting Climate Change and Its Effects
Natural Resources: Forests, Rivers, Water, and Shorelines

Protect and restore forests, rivers, water, and shorelines and make them resilient from impacts of climate change.


Issue Chair: Raelene Gold, rgold@lwvwa.org, 206-303-7218
 DOWNLOAD the Forests Issue Paper
 DOWNLOAD the Rivers Issue Paper
 DOWNLOAD the Water Issue Paper
 DOWNLOAD the Shorelines Issue Paper
Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 

Right Now in Natural Resources

All attention is now on the Senate and House operating and capital budgets to see if supported bills and projects will be funded. Also, this week many natural resource bills had hearings in the fiscal committees. Next week House and Senate caucuses take place and bills will come to the floor for final passage.

 Action Alert

E2SHB 1139 Taking action to address lead in drinking water. This bill requires school buildings built or had plumbing replaced before 2016, be tested for lead contamination at drinking water outlets and that the results be shared with the school community. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that lead levels above 1 part per billion can cause permanent cognitive damage and behavioral problems in children. The Washington Department of Health sampling found that 82% of schools had lead levels above 5 ppb and 49% were above 15 ppb, mainly in communities of color and low income. A school can apply for a grant for remediation.

 Status The House Committee on Appropriations amended the bill making it null and void unless its high costs are funded in the budget. There was controversy because the costs of fixing the valves is not fully covered in the capital budget. Considering the danger to children of lead in their school drinking water, it is essential that this bill pass this session, testing by the Department of Health begin, fountains are closed that test over 5ppb, and work begin.

 Action Alert Take Action Now to Address Lead in School Drinking Water

Please email your Senator and urge them to get E2SHB 1139 onto the floor for a vote today.


Forests

This was a remarkable week for Forests starting with a hearing in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means on 2SHB1168 regarding Wildfires, where a striker had amended the bill to guarantee sustainable harvests on state lands to help the timber industry. The bill’s sponsor, the Commissioner of Public Lands, herself, spoke at the public hearing to say she wanted it removed because it was unrelated to the purpose of the bill and there was a court case pending regarding the issue. The Commissioner is temporarily halting the logging of mature and old growth trees on state lands to reevaluate their more significant value in combating climate change. This is coincident with a movement for protecting the Tongas NF and Pacific Northwest federal forests as a forest reserve or sanctuary to also address climate change.

Increased temperatures and drought have resulted in dry, insect infested flammable forests greatly increasing the risks of wildfires, especially on the east side of the state. Wildfires contribute to raising temperatures by releasing CO2 and other GHGs, while trees also absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and sequester CO2 carbon.

Bills the League Supports


2SHB 1168  Wildfire Response, Forest Restoration and Community Resilience Act. Combines many of the agency's priority programs, increasing wildfire preparation personnel and equipment, shortening the timeline for at risk forest restoration programs and preparing community resilience while increasing rural jobs. The 2020 wildfire season was the most destructive yet igniting over 800,000 acres, overwhelming the Department of Natural Resource's firefighting personnel and equipment and showed that the treatment timeline for at-risk forests must be accelerated. Request for a dedicated fund for $125 million per biennium for four biennium from general fund is included in the Senate and House capital budgets. Striker to bill included a joint legislative audit and review commission's sustainable harvest provision that the League opposes, was removed from the bill.

 Status Scheduled for public hearing at 1:30 p.m. March 30 in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. Passed out of executive session held April 2. Passed to Senate Committee on Rules for second reading.


SHB 1114
Encouraging municipal electric utilities and PUDs to assist customers with the mitigation of urban heat island effects and stressing urban forestry tree planting or cool roof programs.

 Status Passed out of Senate Committee on Rules. Passed out of Senate 47Y, 0N, 0E, 2Ex. Speaker and President of the Senate signed.


2SHB 1216
Encouraging urban and community forestry. The name of the program would change to Urban and Community Forestry and be administered by the Department of Natural Resources, who would evaluate needs and offer technical assistance.

Status Scheduled for public hearing at 1:30 p.m. March 30 in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. Passed in executive session held April 2. Passed to Senate Committee on Rules for second reading.


SHB 1423 Concerning smoke management civil enforcement. This minor fix would make violations of burn permits a civil offense rather than criminal.

Status Passed to Senate Committee on Rules for second reading.


SB 5063 Concerning extending the expiration date for the Invasive Species Council from 2022 to 2032. The invasive species council monitors and takes action on insect, animal, plant, and wildlife invasives that can devastate Washington’s economy and environment. Current concerns include Asian giant hornet, zebra and quagga mussels, and northern pike. This is an essential bill to pass.

Status SB 5063 passed out of the House with a 97Y, 0N, 0A, 1Ex vote..


SB 5158
Commissioner of Public Lands to establish a utility wildland fire prevention advisory committee. This is an important bill as trees falling on electric power lines has been found to be a cause of wildfires. Last summer’s wildfire that destroyed the majority of homes in Malden and Pine City, near Spokane, was caused by a toppled Avista power line. In Oregon, a windstorm resulting in downed power lines caused 13 fires and near destruction of Detroit, Oregon. In California, downed power lines are a large cause of wildfires, including last year’s deadly Camp Fire.

Status Passed out of the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources and referred to House Rules 2 review. Placed on second reading on April 2.

SB 5454 Providing property tax relief to Washington citizens who lost their homes in the Labor Day fires. Eight-five homes and buildings were lost in the Labor Day wildfires that decimated Malden and Pine City. FEMA has paid for the lost infrastructure, but refused to pay the homeowners for their loss. 

Status Public hearing on March 22 in the House Committee on Finance. Executive action March 31 passing bill; referred to Rules 2 Review.


Climate Change Bill the League Supports

SSB 5373  The Strong Act is a climate bill but deals with forests in section one, part five. The substitute bill is an improvement over the original bill that repeated language from 2020 HB 2528 regarding the contribution of the timber industry and wood products to carbon sequestration. Most forest scientists have said there is no scientific evidence to support this, and that our native forests absorb CO2 from the atmosphere to prevent climate change. The bill’s revenue bonds would fund climate resilient projects and could help fund parts of HB 1168 the wildfire bill, concerning long-term forest health and the reduction of wildfire dangers.

Status Public hearing held March 4 in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology. Being followed on the Climate Change Issue page.


Rivers

High westside precipitation levels this fall and winter has resulted in some flooding causing more problems for the Chehalis River Basin. Also, higher than normal snowfall and snowpack this winter will diminish draught and low river water levels. The Chehalis, Yakima, and Alpine Lakes Workgroups will be included in the upcoming House and Senate Budgets. We have included bills related to tribal fishing rights here under rivers. The LWVWA has a long history and strong positions supporting tribal treaty rights, tribal sovereignty, and protecting salmon habitat. The Senate capital budget funding of rivers included: Yakima Basin Integrated Plan- $42M; Chehalis Basin Strategy - $70M; Streamflow restoration program - $40M.

Bills the League Supports


E2SHB 1382 Streamlining the environmental permitting process for salmon recovery projects.

 Status Scheduled for public hearing April 1 in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. Executive action passing the bill taken on April 2.


HB 1478  Concerning fish habitat enhancement projects authorized pursuant to RCW 77.55.181. Projects approved and sponsored by a federally recognized tribe qualify for streamlined hydraulic project review.

Status Referred to the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources, and Parks Committee. No further action taken, so bill has failed to pass.

SSB 5381 Addressing fish passage project permit streamlining.

Status Passed March 25 out of the House Committee on Environment and Energy. Referred to Rules 2 Review.


2SHB 1117
  Protecting salmon recovery through revisions to the state's comprehensive planning framework.
This bill would require that salmon be included in front-end planning undertaken under the Growth Management Act. It defines compensatory mitigation and net ecological gain as measures of salmon protection and mandates that these be covered in land use, critical areas, and transportation plans as of January 2024. Sponsor Rep. Lekanoff stresses that salmon are essential for tribal treaty rights and the Bolt decision to be upheld, and that the local level is the missing link in our state and federal salmon recovery efforts.

Status Referred to rules 2 and passed out of House with 58 yea, 38 nay, 0 absent, and 2 excused votes. Follow this bill on the Climate Change Issue Page under Growth Management Act bills.


Indian Treaty Rights

Bills the League Supports


HB 1172 /SB 5199 Repeals Initiative 456 passed in 1984 during Washington state and tribes fishing wars in which Billy Frank Jr. went to jail 50 times for treaty protected fishing in the Nisqually River. Recognizes judicially affirmed and treaty-reserved fishing rights and promoting state-tribal cooperative agreements in the management of salmon, trout, and steelhead resources. Sponsored by Rep. Lekanoff at request of Attorney General Ferguson.

Status Passed out of Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water Natural Resources and Parks to Rules Committee for second reading.

SHB 1372 / SB 5419 Would replace the statue of Missionary Marcus Whitman with that of Billy Frank Jr. in the National Statuary Hall established in 1864 where each state can send two statues of their deceased citizens know for distinguished civic or military contributions to the state. Billy Frank Jr. was a Nisqually tribal leader and chair of the Northwest Fish Commission and well known for his life-long activism and inspiration on behalf of restoring salmon for all Washingtonians. The substitute bill added the establishment of a National Statuary Hall Selection Committee. Costs for statue and its transport is expected to be raised privately, so there is no fiscal impact to the state general fund. 

Status In Senate Committee on Rules for second reading. 


Bills the League Supports That Missed the Cutoff


SB 5161 An act relating to the teaching of Washington's tribal history, culture, and government. This bill requires teaching of local federally recognized tribe’s history, culture, and government in social studies curriculum, and would help Washingtonians better understand tribal history, sovereign governments, and treaty rights.

Big News on the Four Lower Snake River Dams

Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson has offered an initiative to return salmon and steelhead to Idaho by taking out the four lower Snake River dams in Washington. Idaho’s salmon and steelhead are headed for extinction and dam removal is the only way to give them a chance at survival. Simpson has put together a very large proposal for the entire northwest that also deals with a Snake River national recreation area, energy, and transportation, and invites everyone to a discussion. Learn more at:


Water

High temperatures and drought impact the quantity and quality of our water supplies. We have included waste management bills, as we are a member of the Environmental Priorities Coalition and another member Zero Waste Washington urged action on the two bills we include here.

Bills the League Supports


E2SHB 1139 Taking action to address lead in drinking water. This bill requires school buildings built or had plumbing replaced before 2016, be tested for lead contamination at drinking water outlets and that the results be shared with the school community. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that lead levels above 1 part per billion can cause permanent cognitive damage and behavioral problems in children. The Washington Department of Health sampling found that 82% of schools had lead levels above 5 ppb and 49% were above 15 ppb, mainly in communities of color and low income. A school can apply for a grant for remediation. The House Committee on Appropriations amended the bill making it null and void unless its high costs are funded in the budget. There was controversy because the costs of fixing the valves is not fully covered in the capital budget. Considering the danger to children of lead in their school drinking water, it is essential that this bill pass this session, testing by the Department of Health begin, fountains are closed that test over 5ppb, and work begin.

Status  Scheduled for public hearing at 1:30 p.m. April 1 in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. Passed in executive session held April 2 and referred to the Senate Committee on Rules for second reading.


SSB 5230 Concerning agreements for allocation of groundwater resulting from Bureau of Reclamation project operations. Agreements with the United States for the allocation of groundwater that exist as a result of the Columbia Basin Program do not require compliance with the procedures in the groundwater code for the establishment of groundwater areas or subareas, and for declarations of claims of ownership of artificially stored groundwater within those areas or subareas. However, the Department of Ecology is authorized to first establish a groundwater area or subarea under the procedure provided in the groundwater code before an agreement is entered into with the United States for the allocation of groundwater in the groundwater area or subarea. Allocates accumulated surface groundwater created by the Columbia Basin Project to productive use for irrigators without the Department of Ecology’s approval.

 Status: Referred to House Rules 2 review. Placed on second reading April 2. 


Bills the League is Watching


HB 1385 Limiting the transfer of water rights out of the original water resource area. First public hearing held March10 in the House Rural Development, Agriculture, and Natural Resources committee. Hearing to address issue of out-of-state commercial entities buying Washington water rights and reselling them at higher rates. Most testifying other because of difficult issue of changing Washington’s water right law.

 Status No action on bill.


2SHB 5022 / HB 1118 Management of materials to support recycling, waste and litter reduction. Are “Producer Responsibility” policy that requires the producers (brand owners) of packaging and paper products to take financial responsibility for the statewide recycling system. Producers are required to meet recycling and reuse targets and use the recycled materials in new products/packaging.  

 Status Referred to the House Committee on Appropriations. Had public hearing and executive hearing April 1 in House Committee on Appropriations. Passed and referred to Rules 2 Review


Bills the League Opposes That Missed the Cutoff


HB 1488 Management of plastic packing materials. Poorly designed bill that does not solve the problem. Public hearing in the House Environment and Energy Committee on Feb. 11, no further action, so the bill is dead.


Shorelines

The League is addressing the need to respond to conditions threatening shorelines and public waters, such as development affecting public access, declines in water quality, reduction in shoreline habitat for fish and wildlife, stormwater and industrial pollution, and issues associated with industrial aquaculture and wastewater treatment plant spills. The current No Net Loss" standard is not working due to failures in assessment, monitoring and enforcement. We are advocating for a Net Gain Standard instead.

Bills the League Supports


2SHB 1099 Improving the state's climate response through updates to the state’s comprehensive planning framework. Sec.12 and 10 concerns Shorelines. See Climate Change Issue Web Page for the growth management act bills for more information.


SB 5145 Concerning the prevention of seabed mining of hard mineralsPrevents the Department of Natural Resources from issuing permits and leases on aquatic lands on Washington’s coast for the seabed mining of hard minerals. Also prevents the mining of hard minerals in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound under the Shoreline Management Act.

 Status Referred to House Rules 2 Review.


SSB 5273 Concerning the replacement of shoreline armoring. The Department of Ecology will help shoreline homeowners with marine bulkheads using bank protection alternative that is protective of fish life.

Status In the House Rules Committee, placed on second reading. Passed out of the House 57Y, 40N, 0A, 2Ex.


Bills the League is Watching

SSB 5125 Affirming the process for disposing of dredged materials for federal navigation channel maintenance and improvement. Ports support citing economic concerns for maintaining the Lower Columbia River navigability for shipping and barging, but would modify the Shoreline Management Act to exempt federal navigation channel maintenance and improvement projects from the permitting process. Passed to the Rules Committee for second reading.


 Status In House Committee on Environment and Energy. In the meantime, companion bill SHB 1193 has now passed out of both the House and Senate.


How to be Involved

  • Stay in contact with your Legislators.
  • Reply to Action Alerts.
  • Subscribe to the LWVWA Legislative newsletter so that you receive it weekly on Sundays during the session starting Jan. 10, 2021 and ending with a wrap up in May 2021.
  • Contact the Natural Resources Issue Chair.

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