Legislation to help endangered orcas keeps moving toward approval – Watching Our Waterways

Chris Dunagan on the handful of environmental bills moving through the Olympia sausage making machine.

Members of the governor’s orca task force this week expressed hope and a bit of surprise as they discussed their recommendations to help the orcas —recommendations that were shaped into legislation and now have a fairly good chance of passage. Over the years, some of their ideas have been proposed and discussed — and ultimately killed — by lawmakers, but now the plight of the critically endangered southern resident killer whales has increased the urgency of these environmental measures — including bills dealing with habitat, oil-spill prevention and the orcas themselves. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Legislation to help endangered orcas keeps moving toward approval

Risk of a major oil spill generates action in Olympia – Salish Sea Currents

And a followup to the previous article.

As oil-carrying vessels arouse new concerns about the fragility of the Salish Sea, Washington state officials are pushing to adopt new rules to counter-balance the increasing risks of a collision and potential oil spill. Few doubt that a large spill of oil would cause profound damage to the Puget Sound ecosystem. Marine mammal experts have even warned that a major oil spill could drive the critically endangered killer whale population to extinction…. Assessing the risks of oil spills has become a key to decision-making, especially with the emergence of a heavier crude oil, changes in tank vessels, and the prospect that more ships will travel more dangerous routes. Chris Dunagan reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

Risk of a major oil spill generates action in Olympia

It’s been 30 years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Here’s what we’re still learning from that environmental debacle. – Hakai Magazine

Some facts on the ground. While the press may have moved on, the oil hasn’t. Why we are so adamant about new oil spill regulations in Olympia as Canada gears up to put hundreds of more oil freighters into our joint use Strait. Whatever could go wrong?

Before dawn on March 24, 1989, Dan Lawn stepped off of a small boat and onto the boarding ladder dangling from the side of the grounded Exxon Valdez oil tanker. As he made the crossover, he peered down into the water of Prince William Sound, and saw, in the glare of the lights, an ugly spectacle he would never forget. “There was a 3-foot wave of oil boiling out from under the ship, recalls Lawn, who was then a Valdez-based Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation employee helping to watchdog the oil industry. “You couldn’t do anything to stop it.”… Eventually, the oil would foul parts of 1,300 miles of coastline, killing marine life ranging from microscopic planktons to orcas in an accident that would change how the maritime oil-transportation industry does business in Alaska, and to a lesser extent, elsewhere in the world. Hal Bernton and Lynda Makes report. (Seattle Times) See also: Wounded Wilderness: The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill 30 Years Later  On the surface, Prince William Sound appears to have recovered. But you don’t have to dig too deep—into the soil or into memories—to find the spill’s lingering effects. Tim Lydon reports. (Hakai Magazine)

It’s been 30 years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Here’s what we’re still learning from that environmental debacle.

Whale watching industry defends viewing endangered southern resident orcas – KCPQ

Well, as usual, we’d rather not mess with industry, even if it means possibly losing the Orca. Will the last whale watch boat please turn out the lights when you exit?

It was billed as a “bold action” the state could take that would have an immediate impact on our struggling southern resident orcas, but it never gained support in the Legislature. This legislative session, Gov. Jay Inslee and his orca task force called for a temporary ban on whale watching activity around the endangered killer whales. Scientists say vessel disturbance is one of three threats facing these whales, along with lack of prey and contaminants in the water. The governor request bill would have required commercial whale watch vessels stay 650 yards away from the southern residents, but as the bill made its way through Olympia, legislators stripped the suspension from the text…. However, the governor’s office revealed this week that not a single legislator in Olympia was on board. Even the bill’s legislative sponsors have told Q13 News the measure lacked support from the start. Simone Del Rosario reports. (KCPQ)

Whale watching industry defends viewing endangered southern resident orcas 

Voting in Olympia

Current voting status from our Legislators. Culled from the great folks at Washingtonvotes.org. The Democrats are capitalizing on their majority and governor. They are passing a lot of bills to help the environment. While I am not wild about taxing carbon, (I’d rather see better support for purchasing electric vehicles and power recharging stations), as carbon taxes really don’t change behavior from what I’ve seen, simply make people pay more. Setting quotas on how many electric vehicles are imported for sale here simply penalizes the car dealers if they don’t sell. That’s just dumb. They are already paying taxes on gross sales, which is also a bad tax system. I’d much rather created incentives for people to buy! That will drive demand. It’s all about demand and alternative choices (i.e. mass transit).

I took a bus for many years from North Seattle to Redmond. I did it because there were frequent busses and it was convenient. I knew I could leave early and return early or late. I don’t see anything being done to create more incentive for people to take mass transit on the Olympic Peninsula. As an example, it would seem we need more busses serving PT to Sequim, where people may work, or go to medical appointments. There are only four busses,the first leaves at 8:30 AM. No working person will take that bus. They have to drive to near the airport to catch the earlier bus. Coming back the last bus leaves Sequim at 6:40, so if you have to stay late, you are stuck. The first bus leaves Sequim for PT at 6:52, so you can certainly catch that bus if you work in PT, but again, your last opportunity out is at 5:50. It appears we could easily do one more bus on each end of the day. One leaves early to Sequim from Haynes and one leaves later from Sequim and returns later from PT. That is what creating demand can accomplish. However you also need to advertise the service.

There are people though that will never take the bus, and for them, we need to drive demand for longer range electric vehicles. Maybe a service that would allow people to ‘rent’ an electric car at the Haynes P&R and drive it to Sequim, etc. and return it when done to Haynes. That seems to be a technology that is available. It certainly has worked in Seattle. ReachNow, ZipCar, Car2Go.

So here’s your local legislator’s votes


House Bill 1110, Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels

Passed the House on March 12 by a vote of 53-43

This bill would direct the state Department of Ecology to impose low-carbon fuel limits on gasoline and other transportation related fuels with a “clean fuels” program. Under the bill, carbon emissions of transportation fuels would have to be reduced to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. The mandatory program would begin Jan. 1, 2021. During floor debate, opponents argued that the bill would harm Washington residents by raising gas prices, which are already among the highest in the nation, and raising other costs, including food prices. A Republican amendment to allow a public vote at the next general election was defeated, and the bill passed along party lines by a 53-43 vote. Bi-partisan opposition to the bill included all Republicans and three Democrats. The bill was referred to the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee for further consideration

Rep. Chapman Yes

Rep. Tharinger Yes

This bill would impose California’s automobile emission rules on vehicle owners in Washington. Under the bill, car makers would be assigned credits based on the kind of fuel efficient cars they bring into the state. Those credits would then be used to set quotas for how many zero-emission vehicles manufacturers must ship into the state and for dealers to offer for sale, regardless of whether consumers want them or not. The stated goal of the bill is to have about 2.5 percent of all cars brought into Washington be the equivalent of zero-emission vehicles. The bill is now before the House Environment and Energy Committee for further consideration.
Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (Sequim) (D) ‘Voted Yes’
If enacted into law, this bill would ban stores from giving single-use plastic carryout bags to their customers. The ban includes paper and recycled plastic bags unless they meet stringent recycled content requirements. Under the bill, retailers would also be required to collect an 8-cent per bag tax for each recycled content large paper or plastic carryout bag provided. These provisions would supersede local bag ordinances, except for ordinances establishing a 10-cent per bag charge in effect as of January 1, 2019. Passage of SB 5323 by the Senate is the furthest statewide bag-ban proposals have advanced in the legislative process, since the idea of regulating and taxing shopping bags were first proposed in 2013. The bill was sent to the House Environment and Energy Committee for further consideration.
Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (Sequim) (D) ‘Voted Yes’
Under this bill, Washington’s electric utilities would have to eliminate all coal-fired energy sources by 2025 and meet 100 percent of its retail electric load using non-emitting and renewable resources by January 1, 2045. ?In support of the bill, Democrats said the state has an entrepreneurial economy that can move toward a clean energy economy. Solar and wind are the future, and this bill provides a common sense framework for bold actions toward a carbon-free electricity, they said. Republican senators offered nearly two dozen amendments to the bill, pointing out that Washington utilities already rely heavily on clean hydroelectric power and that the bill’s provisions would really only result in additional costs and rate increases to be borne by consumers. Most of the amendments failed, and the bill passed along strictly partisan lines, with one Republican and one Democrat member excused. The bill was sent to the House Committee on Environment and Energy, which has scheduled a public hearing for March 5th.
Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (Sequim) (D) ‘Voted Yes’

Dead and alive in Olympia

The status of many major initiatives in Olympia, both environmental or not. I met yesterday with Senator Van de Wege, and the bill to strengthen shoreline protection by empowering Washington State Fish and Wildlife with greater enforcement powers, (among other issues) is still alive. A hearing on it will be held next Tuesday,  according to Senator Van de Wege, who seems to be taking on many of the issues that ex-Senator Kevin Ranker was working on. Those are pretty big shoes to fill, so we will continue to watch the progress of the bills that he will be shepherding through the Senate.

https://www.kitsapsun.com/story/news/local/2019/03/14/whats-dead-alive-and-now-law-legislatures-halfway-point/3166258002/

B.C. Indigenous guardians sound alarm about impact of climate change – Canadian Press

Very good article about positive developments just to the north of us. In our area, the Marine Resources Committee are taking very similar steps as is the Marine Science Center. But there is no reason that a new group could not take hold here among the Tribes. Perhaps it already has, and it’s worth remembering that the Jamestown S’Klallam, who’s traditional lands we live on, have been leaders in environmental monitoring and restoration of the Dungeness and waters of Sequim Bay, along with restoration of the creeks of their lands and salmon recovery efforts.

Growing up in a small, remote First Nations community in northwestern British Columbia, Jarett Quock found he faced racism and stereotypes from non-Indigenous people whenever he left the reserve. The treatment took a toll on him, damaging his pride in his Tahltan Nation roots. It was only after he began work as an Indigenous guardian — monitoring the effects of climate change on his territory — that he recovered his confidence….More than 40 Indigenous communities in Canada have launched guardian programs, which employ local members to monitor ecosystems and protect sensitive areas and species. At a national gathering in Vancouver this week, guardians raised alarm about environmental degradation and climate change in their territories. Laura Kane reports. (Canadian Press)

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