Environment

Where’s all the carbon in our air coming from?

November 21, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Where’s all the carbon in our air coming from?

New research published in the journal Climactic Change shows that a remarkably small number of companies (90) are responsible for two-thirds of global warming causing carbon emissions. Between the years 1751 to 2010, 90 companies released about 914 gigatons of CO2 emissions. Seven of those companies are cement manufacturers, the rest are energy companies producing oil, gas, and coal. (Click here for the list.) Former Vice-President Al Gore hailed the report. “This study is a crucial step forward in our … Continue reading

Future fuel tested at Cle Elum factory

November 7, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Future fuel tested at Cle Elum factory

“Kermit’s Song” notwithstanding, it can be fairly easy being green. Take, for example, making fuel from scrap wood chips. All over the world, scientists are hunting for alternative fuels of the future. In our own state, a research team recently introduced its new technology at a wood-chipping plant located in the sylvan outskirts of Cle Elum, Kittitas County. Since wood chips by themselves are pretty much worthless, it’s plain old commonsense to put them to work. Why not put them … Continue reading

Washington in the top 10 for energy efficiency

November 7, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Washington in the top 10 for energy efficiency

When it comes to energy efficiency, coming in at #8, Washington has been in the top ten for the eight years the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has been keeping score. ACEEE ranks states on their energy efficiency policy and program efforts and provides recommendations for ways to improve, encouraging states to continue strengthening their efficiency commitments to promote economic growth and secure environmental benefits. To determine state ranking, ACEEE looked at six areas: utility policies and programs, … Continue reading

If you see something odd in the water, or the woods, report it

June 9, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

If you see something odd in the water, or the woods, report it

There’s a new app for Washington state residents to instantly report wildlife that shouldn’t be here: northern snakehead, hydrilla, wild pigs like the legendary Hogzilla or plain old Godzilla. If you spot them, this app makes it simple to report them from your phone. It wouldn’t hurt to take a photo or video, either. The Washington Invasive Species Council created the free app, which lets you not only report the invader, but send a photo and geographic information from your … Continue reading

Saving money, energy and the environment

May 2, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Saving money, energy and the environment

An old building at the state capitol – built in 1940 – won national recognition for being green, while a proposed new building could use even less energy. The John L. O’Brien building needed to be retrofitted to survive another earthquake. As part of that $50 million project, started in 2009, the state basically bulldozed the inside of each floor and started from scratch. Among other improvements: double-paned windows, high-efficiency heating and cooling, even landscaping outside that used less water … Continue reading

Derelict vessels: The voyage ends (for now)

April 7, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Derelict vessels: The voyage ends (for now)

With his signature last Wednesday, Gov. Inslee capped a two-year drive in the Legislature to tackle the stubborn problem of derelict and abandoned ships and boats, which threaten the safety and environmental health of the state’s waterways and much that depends on them: recreation, shellfishing, marine industry and the jobs they provide. Rep. Drew Hansen of Kitsap County spearheaded the effort by sponsoring House Bill 2457, signed Wednesday, in  2014, and House Bill 1245, which was passed into law in … Continue reading

Oil Transport back in the news

March 27, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Oil Transport back in the news

Regretfully, perhaps ironically, an oil spill occurred Sunday in the Houston Ship Channel in Texas. Ironic because it’s nearly 25 years to the day of infamous Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska that occurred on March 24th 1989. Like that earlier spill, much of the focus in the aftermath of this latest incident is on the local wildlife. According to a statement from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department there could be hundreds or thousands of birds of various species in … Continue reading

Suction dredging

February 13, 2014 - Rep. Gael Tarleton

Suction dredging

Here’s a great piece from one of our 36th legislative district neighbors, Kim McDonald. She does an excellent job explaining the process of suction dredging. I have a bill on this issue, HB 2579 – The Give Fish a Chance Act, that would limit the use of suction dredging in critical habitat areas with endangered species. Seeking early season fishing, I headed for small streams high up in the North Central Cascades. I found a spot, along Scotty Creek, with … Continue reading

House committee approves environmental protection bills

February 6, 2014 - Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon

House committee approves environmental protection bills

The House Environment Committee approved five bills yesterday that will create greater environmental stewardship for individuals and involve Washington communities in environmental decision-making. “We intend to open up the doors on more flexible compliance and aid for communities that disproportionately suffering from environmental challenges,” said Rep. Fitzgibbon (D-Burien), chair of the House Environment Committee. “These bills will help ensure a greener and healthier environment for all Washingtonians.” HB 2347, sponsored by Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D-Seattle) will reduce the risk of … Continue reading

ASK SHARON: Rep. Wylie responds to constituent emails

January 29, 2014 - Rep. Sharon Wylie

ASK SHARON: Rep. Wylie responds to constituent emails

Watch Rep. Sharon Wylie talking about the oil trains issue and about her license plate bill.

Newly appointed 21st Legislative District representative gets committee assignments

January 27, 2014 - Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self

Newly appointed 21st Legislative District representative gets committee assignments

State Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self has been assigned to positions on theEarly Learning & Human Services Committee, the Environment Committee, and the Transportation Committee. Ortiz-Self is taking the seat vacated by Rep. Marko Liias, who moved on to the Senate to replace retired Sen. Paull Shin. “A quality education starting at a young age is the solution to so many of the social problems we face,” said  Ortiz-Self, a counselor at North Middle School, whose extensive work in numerous child service … Continue reading

Rep. Sells’ Legislative Update for January 24, 2014

January 24, 2014 - Rep. Mike Sells

We are into week two of our nine week session. As such, time to hear bills and get them moved through committee is very limited. In the Labor and Workforce Development Committee, which I chair, we have had a number of bills dealing with wage theft and the underground economy, as well as issues dealing with electrical industrial regulations. There are many more bills to hear on minimum wage, prevailing wage and workplace safety. Quality counts with early learning Washington … Continue reading

Statement from Rep. Kevin Van De Wege on House passage of the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act

January 22, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Statement from Rep. Kevin Van De Wege on House passage of the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act

“For the third time, a majority of the state House agreed that we don’t have to choose between our families’ health and their safety. The Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act bans the use of six different toxic chemicals found in common household products under the veil of ‘fire safety’. This list includes Tris – a known carcinogen. Studies show that these chemicals actually make household fires more lethal by increasing the toxicity in the smoke inhaled by firefighters, first responders … Continue reading

Fitzgibbon to chair House Environment Committee

January 3, 2014 - Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon

Fitzgibbon to chair House Environment Committee

State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon of Burien will play a key role in protecting the quality of the water, land and air in Washington state as the new chair of the House Environment Committee, with the announcement Tuesday that he would move into that position in the 2014 legislative session. “My goal is to make sure Washington’s environmental protections remain strong and are improved so they function as best as possible for Washington’s families and businesses,” Fitzgibbon said. The majority House … Continue reading

Can a fantastic fungi help clean up Puget Sound?

December 19, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Can a fantastic fungi help clean up Puget Sound?

Stormwater: It sounds a little like part of a character’s name from “Game of Thrones,” but of course it usually refers to the stuff that flows off roads, driveways, parking lots, lawns and fields when it rains, much of which is channeled through drainage systems and ultimately to rivers, lakes and the sea. It’s a major source of pollution of Puget Sound, and its management is costly for businesses and cities – and its regulation and control plays a role … Continue reading

My work over the interim

December 16, 2013 - Rep. Gael Tarleton

My work over the interim

During the interim, I was honored by an appointment to the Pacific Northwest Economic Region Advisory Board – an engine for economic development in our beautiful Pacific Northwest. I have attended conferences where I had the opportunity to delve into clean energy and economic development policies, as well as hear from other states’ legislators about their approaches. Just last month, I graduated from its Legislative Academy, and I wanted to share this picture with you. I am excited to represent … Continue reading

Are you recycling?

December 12, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Are you recycling?

The Department of Ecology announced Tuesday that Washingtonians recycled more in 2012 than we threw away for the second year in a row. In 2011 we recycled 50.7 percent of our solid waste and, while last year’s figure dropped a bit (50.1%), it’s still past the 50 percent mark! In 1989, the legislature passed the “Waste Not Washington Act,” which established waste reduction and source-separated recycling as the fundamental strategies for managing solid waste. It set a goal of recycling … Continue reading

Going green should be cheaper

August 28, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Going green should be cheaper

The best way to save energy – and the environment – is to make green choices not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do. That’s the message of this article in Slate by Bjørn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist: Green Energy Needs to be Cheaper Instead of relying entirely on rules or laws, change can happen when you make going green not only good for the environment, but good for the bottom line. This … Continue reading

Water champion vows renewed focus on healthy ecosystem

July 23, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Water champion vows renewed focus on healthy ecosystem

Make no mistake: State Rep. John McCoy is no stranger to water wrangles. McCoy is already vice chair of the House Environment Committee and he’s dealt with all of the water-related kerfuffle that job entails. For many years, his voice has sounded out loud and clear whenever the conversation has turned to water and other natural-resource issues. And now, the veteran water-access and water-quality champion is taking on still additional responsibilities with his recent appointment to a seat on Washington’s … Continue reading

Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup now up and running

May 16, 2013 - Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon

Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup now up and running

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, expressed hope and enthusiasm after the first meeting of Gov.  Jay Inslee’s Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup yesterday. “This is the start of something really exciting,” said Ranker, who joins Rep. Fitzgibbon, Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Bellingham, Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy and Gov. Inslee as the five members of the workgroup. “When lawmakers created our workgroup this past session, we were essentially saying as a Legislature that we’ve moved beyond questioning … Continue reading

Rep. Tina Orwall’s e-newsletter for March 20, 2013

March 20, 2013 - Rep. Tina Orwall

Rep. Tina Orwall’s e-newsletter for March 20, 2013

Update on my bills I am so pleased that all 9 of my remaining bills passed the House before cutoff!  SHB 1341, regarding compensation for those wrongly convicted and imprisoned; SHB 1290, which requires county auditors to place postage-free ballot drop boxes at each campus of a public institution of higher education; and 2SHB 1526, which expands access to the Running Start program, were my final 3 bills to pass the House last week.   I have already begun testifying on … Continue reading

House advances environmental, natural resource legislation

March 7, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

House advances environmental, natural resource legislation

Protecting our state’s quality of life is the overarching theme of several environmental and natural resource-related measures championed by House Democrats. The House has advanced a package of bills protecting people and the environment from toxic chemicals and pollution, and promoting responsible stewardship of resources. “In order to have a strong economy that supports good jobs, we have to strive for a healthy and sustainable quality of life in our state,” said Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D – Des Moines), who … Continue reading

Rep. Kevin Van De Wege’s statement on House passage of the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act

March 7, 2013 - Rep. Kevin Van De Wege

Rep. Kevin Van De Wege’s statement on House passage of the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act

“Last night, a majority of the state House agreed that when it comes to toxic chemicals, we can’t continue to put people’s health unnecessarily at risk.  “The Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act bans two cancer-causing chemicals that are touted by the industry as having fire-safe properties. Yet, sound research casts serious doubt on the effectiveness of these chemicals in slowing the spread of a fire. In fact, studies have shown that these chemicals increase the toxicity of a fire, threatening … Continue reading

The great outdoors

January 31, 2013 - Rep. Hans Dunshee

The great outdoors

 

ICYMI: Rep. Tarleton featured in the Ballard News Tribune

January 29, 2013 - mcvicara

ICYMI: Rep. Tarleton featured in the Ballard News Tribune

The Ballard News Tribune recently spoke with the newest lawmaker from the 36th Legislative District – Rep. Gael Tarleton. In the interview, Rep. Tarleton discusses her goals of making college more affordable for students, the need for a new transportation package, and moving our state away from fossil fuels. Here’s a brief snippet of the conversation. Incoming Freshman Rep. Gael Tarleton’s first official week in the 2013 legislative session was intense, but nothing new. After all, she’s had plenty of … Continue reading

Jessyn Farrell’s “Meet the New Member”

January 23, 2013 - Rep. Jessyn Farrell

Jessyn Farrell’s “Meet the New Member”

This year the HDC welcomed nine new members to the House of Representatives. Last week they began rolling out a series of “Meet the New Member” blog posts in an effort to better acquaint readers with the newest faces around town. Representative Farrell took some time to answer a few questions for her installment in the series. Here is what she had to say: Q: Is there a moment, or an image, you’ll remember most from your first day as … Continue reading

Van De Wege, local Audubon Society agree on Dungeness Spit proposal

January 16, 2013 - Rep. Kevin Van De Wege

Van De Wege, local Audubon Society agree on Dungeness Spit proposal

State Rep. Kevin Van De Wege  (D-Sequim) and representatives of the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society (OPAS) in Sequim have jointly agreed to a proposal that would continue to permit jogging within the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge (DNWR), and protect horseback riding within the Refuge for future generations – all while still providing protection for the area’s unique wildlife and habitat. On January 7, Van De Wege met with representatives from OPAS and clarified his position on the future uses and … Continue reading

Jobs, fish and farmers

December 13, 2012 - Rep. Hans Dunshee

Jobs, fish and farmers

Cleaning up the environment can create jobs and help farmers, too. That’s what happened at Port Susan Bay, where citizens, community leaders, lawmakers and volunteers celebrated the completion of two projects this month. Here are two photos by Marlin Greene and a write-up about the projects by the Nature Conservancy. Two Restoration Projects Ensure Healthy Future For Port Susan Bay Healthier tidal wetlands will mean more food in the system for salmon, waterfowl, Dungeness crabs and people. http://www.nature.org/newsfeatures/pressreleases/washington-restoration-projects-ensure-healthy-future.xml Two projects … Continue reading

Fitzgibbon reappointed to vice-chair role, elected to caucus leadership post

December 12, 2012 - mcvicara

Fitzgibbon reappointed to vice-chair role, elected to caucus leadership post

Earlier this week, the House Democratic Caucus announced its committee structure for the upcoming session. State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien) will continue to serve as vice-chair of the House Local Government Committee. The Local Government Committee considers issues relating to operations and financing of counties, cities, and certain special districts. The committee also considers matters relating to the State Environmental Policy Act, Growth Management Act, and land use issues. “Making sure we keep our strong environmental protections in place will … Continue reading

Legislators call for emergency task force to identify statewide impacts of coal export proposal

November 7, 2012 - mcvicara

State Representatives Jeff Morris (D-Mount Vernon) and Kris Lytton (D-Anacortes) are calling on Gov. Chris Gregoire to establish a multi-agency task force to identify the statewide economic, transportation, and environmental impact of a proposed coal terminal near Bellingham. Under federal law the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is lead agency to conduct an area-wide review of proposals to build five coal terminals exporting 150 million tons of coal per year from Washington and Oregon to Asia. The first plan, Cherry … Continue reading

House approves bill to spur innovations in energy conservation

March 1, 2012 - mcvicara

Olympia – By a unanimous vote, the House approved Senate Bill 6414 Wednesday evening that would further advance the state’s energy conservation efforts under I-937. The bill’s supporters say this measure is needed to provide businesses and utilities some regulatory certainty before investing millions in innovative renewable energy projects. “There’s a renewable energy project in my district that’s ready to go,” said Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien) on the House floor. “This regulatory certainty will help get that project off the … Continue reading

Beaver Bill on the move again

February 13, 2012 - nietol

Measure would allow for beavers deemed a nuisance to be relocated to areas where they are needed, wanted OLYMPIA—A new approach to help parched parts of the state retain water and create flourishing wetlands is the subject of House Bill 2349 sponsored by Reps. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, and Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen. The bipartisan legislation, known as the Beaver Bill, would allow for beavers considered a nuisance in Washington to be live-trapped and relocated to areas in the state where they … Continue reading

Washington becomes the first state to ban toxic coal-tar pavement sealants

May 5, 2011 - boyesr

Washington becomes the first state to ban toxic coal-tar pavement sealants May 5, 2011 OLYMPIA—At a bill-signing ceremony in the state capitol on Thursday, Washington became the first state in the nation to enact a statewide ban on a type of pavement sealant that has been linked to fish kills, cancer risks and toxic contamination of lakes and streams. Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a law proposed by Rep. David Frockt (D-Seattle) that prohibits sales of coal-tar pavement sealants after June, … Continue reading

Governor signs landmark legislation improving Washington protection from major oil spills

April 20, 2011 - waldrefj

OLYMPIA – On the anniversary of the catastrophic April 20, 2010, crude oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Gov. Chris Gregoire today signed landmark legislation that significantly advances protection of Washington state’s environment, economy and cultural resources from the impacts of a potential major oil spill. “Our state is already recognized for having one of the strongest spill prevention and response programs in the nation,” Gregoire said. “But the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster illustrates the importance of being as … Continue reading

“Clean Fertilizers, Healthier Lakes and Rivers Act” becomes law

April 14, 2011 - waldrefj

OLYMPIA – Toxic algae blooms are polluting some of Washington’s lakes, rivers and streams, but a new measure signed by the Governor today will help reduce this harmful and costly problem. Dubbed the “Clean Fertilizers, Healthier Lakes and Rivers Act,” House Bill 1489made it through both the state House and Senate, and was sent to the Governor’s office late last week.  It limits phosphorous in lawn fertilizer, which has been shown to contribute to toxic algae blooms by providing a … Continue reading

Governor approves Puget Sound Corps

April 11, 2011 - waldrefj

OLYMPIA – With the stroke of a pen, Governor Gregoire put her signature on legislation that streamlines a popular state program, creates 150 jobs, and helps restore the health of Puget Sound. Rep. Steve Tharinger (D – Sequim) sponsored HB 1294 in the House, saying it would have a positive effect on the “triple bottom line” of financial, social, and natural resource capital. “We’re taking a program with a proven track record and making it more efficient by consolidating it … Continue reading

Legislature approves oil spill protection plan

April 5, 2011 - waldrefj

House Bill 1186 clears Senate today; House concurrence expected soon OLYMPIA – The Senate today passed a bill designed to prevent catastrophic oil spills and improve spill-response efforts in Washington waters. Sponsored by Rep. Christine Rolfes, the bill now awaits concurrence in the House of Representatives and then the expected approval of the governor in the coming days. Sen. Kevin Ranker sponsored the companion bill in the Senate.   “This month is the one-year anniversary of the devastating oil spill … Continue reading

Reps. Hudgins, Rolfes and Upthegrove are working to protect Puget Sound from oil spills

February 16, 2011 - mcvicara

State House unveils oil spill protection plan

January 11, 2011 - waldrefj

As a federal fact-finding commission releases its report today on the BP oil disaster, environmental leaders in the state House put forward measures to keep Washington waters safe OLYMPIA – Environmental leaders in the state House of Representatives today announced a proposal designed to prevent catastrophic oil spills and establish stronger spill-response plans in Washington waters. Legislators say that last year’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico exposed shortcomings in industry regulation and cleanup plans, underscoring the danger … Continue reading