– 2015 Legislature

It’s been very hard to find a real analysis of the actual budget that was passed. But here’s an overview of the environmental spending by InvestigateWest just prior to the finalization.

http://invw.org/2015/06/24/washington-budget-boosts-funding-for-most-environmental-agencies/

Washington environmental agencies are set to receive at least a modest budget boost the next two years despite earlier concerns that court-mandated education spending would require cuts to environmental priorities. Among the major environmental agencies, only the Puget Sound Partnership is set to lose operational dollars, largely due to a federal funding reduction, while several agencies will see substantial increases in operational funding to make up for past years’ cutbacks.

Apparently the following priorities got funded:

  • Regional Stormwater Monitoring.
  • Duwamish Superfund Cleanup
  • DNR increased funding
    • Promotion of Adaptive Management, which allows landowners to avoid ESA regs. Bad call here.
  • More money to track and manage fish in Puget Sound.
  • More money for wolf programs.
  • Puget Sound Partnership appears to have got a 10% reduction. So much for wanting to clean up Puget Sound by a Democratic Governor, or perhaps it recognizes that the Partnership has not been perceived as doing enough in the right areas. They do get some more funding for some programs but others, like “Puget Sound Starts Here” is likely to be cut back.
  • Serious reduction if not defunding of Shoreline Master Program (SMP) work.
  • Eliminated watershed planning programs. (!)
  • increased oil spill prevention programs.
  • State Parks gets an increase in funding.
    • Given the sad state of our parks as compared to Oregon, we are needing funding badly. It’s an embarrassment of how bad our parks are when you go south of our border and camp in any Oregon state park campground.
  • Ecology final operating budget http://www.ecy.wa.gov/services/fs/15_0702_BLUEonly_v2.pdf
  • Ecology final capital budget http://www.ecy.wa.gov/services/fs/15_0702_GREENonly_v1.pdf

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I’ll be posting to this any overviews of what’s happening in Olympia this year. It will not be a good year for the environment, as the Seattle area environmental groups are solely focused on coal and oil trains to the exclusion of most everything else, the legislature is going to have to come up with a lot more money to fund education, which will mean taking from almost everything else. The Feds, dominated by the Republicans are likely to slash funding to everything that even remotely sounds environmental, and our legislators have signaled not to ask for anything. This as the economy and tax revenues are increasing. Welcome to the world we have made where no one wants to pay more in taxes, but everybody wants the government to do something for them. I call it the world of “The Little Red Hens”. If you need a refresher on the lesson of that children’s parable, just go get it from your local library, if it’s still open!

ENVIRONMENTAL GOALS FOR 2015 FOR THE OLYMPIC PENINSULA FROM THE STATE LEGISLATURE

  • FUND CONSERVATION DISTRICTS: Continue to fund (and increase funding a small amount). These organizations are seen as critical to helping create site specific buffers to allow farms to comply with Critical Areas Ordinances. Barely a rounding error in the State budget.
    • This appears to have happened. 
  • FUND THE NORTHWEST STRAITS COMMISSION: This non partisan organization has been incredibly effective in getting a wide ranging group of citizens, from local businesses that rely on the waters, local scientists and  concerned citizens of all sorts, to properly advise local county commissioners on Salish Sea issues in their communities. This small investment pays huge dividends to communities, in their ability to leverage grant funding, volunteer labor, and subject matter expertise to do their work. Another line item that is barely a rounding error in the state budget.
    • This appears to have happened, but waiting on a final analysis to determine how successful the funding was. 
  • PROTECT OUR WATERS FROM EXPANSION OF COAL AND OIL TRAINS – From the Columbia River to the shores of Puget Sound, the increase in coal and oil trains, as shown by the explosion that wiped out a town and it’s inhabitants in Lac-Magentic Quebec  is a deep concern for all of the State. For us on the Olympic Peninsula, it means an upcoming vast increase in oil shipments and possible oil spills in our local waters. The goal this year is to get increased ability to have first responders and communities be able to understand and prepare for risks to derailment and explosion.
    • This appears to have been relegated to a study. Look forward to  lawsuits to force real action. 

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