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Sierra Club Applauds State Senate for Repeal of Coal Plant Subsidy and Is Troubled With Statement From Governor’s Office

March 24, 2010

Tax exemption helps multi-billion dollar TransAlta, not workers.

Washington legislators are in their final days of hashing out responses to the state’s multi-billion dollar budget shortfall.  Still in play is the $5 million-a-year sales tax exemption for TransAlta, the multi-billion-dollar Canadian corporation that owns the coal-fired power plant in Centralia.  Today, the Governor’s office confirmed her opposition to the Senate proposal to remove this tax exemption.

The Sierra Club, Coal-Free Washington Campaign Director Doug Howell responded to the Governor’s comments. "TransAlta’s coal plant is Washington’s single largest stationary source of pollution, including carbon dioxide, toxic mercury and haze. A better use of that public money is investing in a clean energy future. The Sierra Club supports redirecting these funds to investments in clean energy workforce development.

Washington Becomes Fifth State to Ban BPA in Baby Bottles

March 19th, 2010 by Ashley DeForest

Washington State overwhelmingly passed the Safe Baby Bottle Act (SSB 6248) during the 2010 legislative session, which will eliminate the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) from baby bottles, sippy cups, and other children’s dishware, as well as from sports bottles.

"This is a huge victory for children’s health and for parents. Dangerous chemicals like BPA have no place in baby bottles, sippy cups or any product children put in their mouths," said the prime sponsor of the house version of the legislation, State Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (D-Seattle), in a recent article. "Parents can soon go to the store with confidence and buy a bottle for their baby that won’t contain BPA."

Alpine Lakes Wilderness and Rivers Bill Passes U.S. House of Representatives

Bipartisan Legislation One Step Closer to Preserving Additions to Alpine Lakes Wilderness and Portions of the Pratt River and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River

SEATTLE — March 18, 2010 Supporters of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act (H.R. 1769 / S. 721) celebrated as the legislation moved closer to final passage.

The measure, which passed out of the House of Representatives today, would protect an additional 22,000 acres of wilderness adjoining the existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area and would add 10 miles of the Pratt River and nearly 30 miles of the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River to the National Wild and Scenic River System. Washington wilderness supporters thanked Representative Dave Reichert for his continuing leadership, advocacy and bipartisan approach to protecting the wilderness and free-flowing rivers in the North Cascades.

Columbia Basin Farmers Rejoice But Some Environmentalists Worry Over Plans For A Key Irrigation Pipeline

By, Craig Welch, The Seattle Times
OTHELLO, Adams County
Orman Johnson's spuds are out of the ground now, piled in sheds longer than football fields, each stuffed with enough tubers to feed Seattle for half a year.

Like most of Washington's 9 billion pounds of potatoes, the farmer's thirsty crop is grown where less rain falls annually than Seattle may get in six weeks. And the well water that supplies Johnson's farm is disappearing.

As The Gray Wolf Recovers, Who Are Its Friends?

The species is back in parts of the state. But can a recovering species return to the Olympic Peninsula?

By Daniel Jack Chasan

Gray wolves are back, gliding through the forests of eastern Washington and the Cascades. The Lookout pack is producing pups in the Methow Valley, near Twisp. Seven wolves, an alpha male and female, a yearling and last year's four pups, have been traveling through 350 square miles, eating black-tailed and mule deer primarily, but also munching the occasional muskrat or beaver. Last year, on the banks of the Twisp River, they were seen eating salmon.

The Diamond pack is roaming the northeastern corner of the state, where grizzly bears and mountain caribou also wander down into the Salmo-Priest wilderness. There seem to be wolves in the southeastern corner, across the border from the two packs that have been identified in Oregon's Wallowa Mountain and Hell's Canyon area. Other wolves have been sighted in Mount Rainier National Park, although no one knows whether or not they're hybrids.

Wolves hold a very special badass image in European language and myth. They are seen as voracious ("wolfing down" one's food); unusually predatory (a "wolf whistle" directed at a pretty woman); a metaphor for human aggression ("The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold.").

Port Susan Shellfish Safe for First Time in Decades

by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News, Posted on March 8, 2010 at 5:58 PM

ARLINGTON, Wash. - Twenty-five years ago the Stillaguamish Tribe turned its back on the contaminated bay which was once its food basket.

Development around Port Susan had left it polluted with fecal coliform. Human and animal waste had been flowing into the shallow bay and mudflats for decades.
But 12 years ago, the tribe decided to do something.

Last Chance Missed for Transit Tax

Posted By Jordan Schrader on March 8, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Lawmakers have probably missed their last chance to do something to bail out struggling transit agencies.

Pierce Transit and its Snohomish County counterpart, Community Transit, say they need funding to stave off cuts to bus service. They want authority to levy a $20 fee on vehicles in the county without voter approval, or a bigger fee if voters permit.

EPA Gives Bellingham $350,000 Grant for Climate Change Project


BELLINGHAM - The city has received a $350,000 federal grant for a project to reduce carbon emissions by reducing energy use.

The money comes from the Environmental Protection Agency through its new Climate Showcase Communities program. Bellingham is among the first cities in the nation to be awarded such a grant - becoming one out of 25 to receive the money from a pool of 450 applicants, according to a city news release.

In New Post, Dicks Will Keep His Eye On Environment

 As chairman of a key congressional subcommittee, U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks has boosted federal funding to restore Northwest salmon runs, national forests and national parks.

The Belfair congressman has always been keenly interested in Puget Sound and Hood Canal. His position the past three years allowed him to hike spending until Washington’s waterways were on par with Chesapeake Bay — a longtime beneficiary of federal largesse.

From the Desk of Art Kaufman: Send a Message to Governor Gregoire

From the Desk of Art Kaufman    Member, Activist and Donor

Several years ago I attended a luncheon where Governor Gregoire spoke to over 100 national and local members of the Sierra Club.  Without notes and for over 20 minutes, she delivered one of the most inspirational messages about concern for the environment that I had ever heard from a major political figure.  She pledged her commitment to flora, to fauna, to the land, and to water and clean air.  She received a well deserved, rousing ovation. Global warming and resultant climate changes are today’s real and imminent dangers.  The principle cause is the increasing emission of carbon dioxide gas, most of which comes from burning coal to generate electricity.  As a result, the Sierra Club has initiated a ‘Beyond Coal Campaign’.  Nationally, they have been active in preventing over 100 new coal burning electric generating plants from leaving the drawing boards.  Locally, they want Washington to be the first coal-free state:  free of coal burning in our state and free of importing coal generated electricity from out of state.