The Washington State Legislature concluded its "regular” legislative session on April 28 with mixed results on environmental issues. Unfortunately, legislators were unable to come to agreement on a state budget, which resulted in Governor Inslee calling a “special” session that will stretch into mid-June. The Sierra Club has been hard at work throughout, defending against a number of bills which would have dismantled state water laws as well as promoting legislation to reduce climate impacts. Here is a brief overview of our work thus far.
The Sierra Club helped lead efforts to defeat a series of bills which would have reduced state and local oversight of water use by developers. Sadly, across the state we are experiencing water shortages that threaten both salmon and water supplies for communities. One of the greatest problems is the proliferation of “permit exempt” wells which developers have increasingly relied on to avoid state review of projects to determine the potential that these projects have to drain streams and reduce water supplies. In a series of recent decisions, the courts have reigned in developers who attempt to avoid state and local review of projects. Several bills introduced this year would have reversed those decisions. Fortunately, those bills were defeated.
Port Angeles Harbor is contaminated with dioxin and is one of Washington State’s priority bay cleanups. The pollution primarily came from the former chlorine-based Rayonier Pulp Mill. The EPA initially designated the site as a Superfund Site in 2000, but deferred the cleanup to WA State Ecology’s Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) instead, under authority of the Solid Waste Program. Cleanup stalled for seven years but after transfer to Ecology’s Toxic Cleanup Program in 2007, cleanup investigations have moved forward steadily.
Rayonier and Ecology have conducted extensive sampling and analysis of the mill site soils and ground water, Strait sediments, and soils from Port Angeles. Dioxins, PCBs, heavy metals, PAHs, phenols and other contaminants have been found at levels of concern.
On June 21, 2012, Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Norm Dicks introduced historic legislation to establish new Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River protections on the Olympic Peninsula. If passed, the bill would protect the first new Wilderness designations (more than 126,000 acres ) on Olympic National Forest in nearly 30 years and the first ever Wild and Scenic River designations (for 19 rivers and their tributaries constituting 464 miles of river) on the Olympic Peninsula.
Did you know that medicines such as antibiotics, hormones and antidepressants have been found in many of our streams and waterways?
Right now, the King County Board of Health is considering adoption of a landmark medicine return policy. This policy would hold drug manufacturers responsible for paying for programs that remove unwanted or unused drugs from homes. We need a secure medicine take-back program in King County. The drug companies strongly oppose this policy and it's vital that the Board of Health hear from those of us who support medicine take-back. Please send an email to the Board of Health letting them know that you support a medicine return program.
Please come out and make art with us for our "Procession for Our Future" coal train vs. sustainable energy ensemble in the Fremont Solstice Parade! We'll be at the Powerhouse, 3940 Fremont Ave N. from 10-4 on Sunday, May 19th.
Our Chapter's float will feature a coal train driven by skull masked people that transforms into beautiful murals when we implore the audience to help us stop it (note that no words or letters will be allowed in the parade). There will be stilters with windmill headdresses, solar panel costumes, animal masked and otherwise dressed up kids of all ages, beautiful fluttering butterflies, flags and banners, herring and salmon puppets, a band, and more! We need your help to create the best float in the parade!
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is a massive free trade agreement being negotiated between the United States and ten countries across the Pacific Ocean. Despite the huge impact the agreement would have on the environment, economy, and more, the TPP is being negotiated in near complete secrecy with very little input from the public.
Despite the secrecy surrounding the negotiations, there is a lot we do know about how this pact if completed and approved by Congress would impact our climate and environment.
First, a leaked version of one of the chapters on investment confirms that the TPP will include provisions that give corporations the right to sue a government for unlimited cash compensation, in a private tribunal over nearly any law or regulation that a corporation argues is hurting its expected future profits. While that sounds impossible, to date, corporations such as Exxon Mobil and Dow Chemical have launched more than 518 cases against 95 governments using similar rules in other NAFTA-style agreements. Many of these cases directly attack environmental and climate policies policies, such as efforts to phase-out toxic chemicals, stop dangerous mining practices, or reduce reliance on coal and nuclear energy.
"These coal trains threaten the health of our communities, the strength of our economies, and the environmental and cultural heritage we share," said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. "We will stand together to stop the coal trains."
Statement on the State Senate 2013-2015 Capital Budget
The Washington State Senate's capital budget proposal misses key opportunities to invest in natural resource projects that create jobs and benefit all communities across the state by cleaning up Puget Sound and other waterways, protecting communities against forest fires and landslides, and promoting outdoor recreation. Washington state deserves more. We need more investment from our legislature in communities across the state. Key points on environmental issues in the Senate's proposed capital budget:
On this Earth Day, come and celebrate the release of Kate Davies' new book, The Rise of the U.S. Environmental Health Movement. This is the first book to offer a comprehensive examination of the environmental health movement, which unlike mainstream environmentalism, focuses on protecting human health and well-being from toxic chemicals and other hazardous agents. By placing human health at the center of its argument, this movement has achieved many victories in community activism and legislative reform. In The Rise of the U.S. Environmental Health Movement, Kate describes the movement's historical, cultural and ideological roots and analyzes its strategies and successes. By examining what works, this book provides insights into what social movements can do to advance positive social change.