Trump budget slashes agencies to focus on wall, defense – AP/Seattle Times

It’s no longer theoretical about what the Republicans might do to the environment. It’s here now and it’s real. They are going to take the money from environmental restoration and pour it into bombs and more border patrols. Is that really in our best interest as a country? What really matters to you as a citizen and what are we defending? We need all hands on deck to register disgust and anger at this proposed budget. Eastern Washington Republicans, Republicans from all over the Puget Sound region, including Mason county and other locales, and Representative Dave Reichert, the “brave” ex-sheriff that is afraid of holding public town halls because he doesn’t want to face the public that he is personally impacting with his support of these changes, all need to hear from you now. A year from now will be too late. Your neighbors, your environment, restoration of salmon stocks, the protection of the Orca, and by the way,  your health care if  you are not employed by a major corporation or the military, is all on the line. Our fellow citizens in the midwest have allowed us to be taken over by a far right wing zealot and a congress that will stop at nothing to strip us of our hard earned gains in environmental protection, health care, and much more. Time to speak up, or forever hold your peace.

President Donald Trump unveiled a $1.15 trillion budget on Thursday, a far-reaching overhaul of federal government spending that slashes many domestic programs to finance a significant increase in the military and make a down payment on a U.S.-Mexico border wall. Trump’s proposal seeks to upend Washington with cuts to long-promised campaign targets like foreign aid and the Environmental Protection Agency as well as strong congressional favorites such as medical research, help for homeless veterans and community development grants. Andrew Taylor reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.seattletimes.com/business/trump-budget-defense-spending-a-priority-over-agency-money/

Climate change, rural growth are priorities for new Washington lands commissioner – Seattle Times

The state’s newly elected lands commissioner says her top priorities will be to find ways to strengthen local rural economies and to prepare state lands and communities to deal with climate change. Hilary Franz, an environmental attorney who beat out retired Navy commander Steve McLaughlin, will take over the helm at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in January from two-term commissioner Peter Goldmark. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/climate-change-rural-growth-are-priorities-for-new-washington-lands-commissioner/

Whatcom asks state to pay for pilot program to offset well water use – Bellingham Herald

So after fighting this all the way to the Supreme Court the county now wants us taxpayers to foot the bill for trying this out. I suppose this might be a good trial situation. But let’s remember we don’t offer government sponsored trials for solar panels.

The County Council has asked the state Legislature to pay for a three-year pilot project that could address a state Supreme Court mandate that Whatcom County ensure new permit-exempt wells don’t hurt minimum stream flows and senior water rights. The idea came from County Councilman Rud Browne. The council voted Dec. 6 to ask the state for money, although no specific amount was requested…. The system – which includes software, water tanks, water meters – would allow homeowners in rural Whatcom County taking part in the pilot to seasonally store water during the wet winter months to offset the impact of their use in drier months. It would cost a little over $16,000 for a four-person household. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/local/article121447892.html

Voter Turnout in Jefferson County Tops 85% – PT Leader

Kudos to the Jefferson County Democratic Party, which helped create an amazing voter turnout this year. Chairman Bruce Cowan deserves credit for steering a contentious turnout for the two candidates into a high turnout of ballots.

At last count, 85.45 percent of registered voters in Jefferson County turned out to vote. San Juan County beat Jefferson for turnout honors, with 86.62 percent of registered voters there casting ballots.

http://www.ptleader.com/news/election/voter-turnout-in-jefferson-county-hits-percent/article_b2b01a80-b109-11e6-abf4-432ce0d01a73.html

Polly Dyer, driving force for Northwest conservation, dead at 96 – Seattle Times

Goodbye to another legend.

The majestic wilderness of Shi Shi Beach, an indelible sight for many visitors to the Olympic wilderness near Neah Bay, might look entirely different today if not for the cheerful tenacity of Polly Dyer, a conservationist icon who died Sunday in Shoreline. She was 96. Equally at home testifying before Congress or entertaining a new generation of environmentalists in her Lake City living room, Pauline “Polly” Dyer came from modest means to become a driving force in Northwest wilderness and conservation circles. While unable to attend college as a young woman, she would grow up to count governors and Supreme Court justices among her friends. Claudia Rowe reports. (Seattle Times)

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/polly-dyer-driving-force-for-northwest-conservation-dead-at-96/

Politics Of Trade: The Northwest’s Complicated Relationship To The TPP -OPB

Another article outlining some of the difficulties in getting to the truth about the TPP this election year.  As I have said before, I don’t believe that the TPP is the problem, just a symptom, and that the real problem that we face by these massive trade deals, which are always done with an eye towards helping American businesses, is that the tax law is what ultimately defines whether companies can outsource their work to low wage countries. If the tax laws make it unfavorable to move factories overseas, then they won’t. An unintended consequence of that is that they may just choose to open new factories overseas and slowly shut down antiquated ones, by not investing in them, but again, tax law dictates such issues as depreciation schedules of equipment. One reason Japan outcompeted us in the 198os was due to a very favorable depreciation schedule of 1 year to our 5 (or more) years. A company could write off the depreciation of a large manufacturing machine in 1 year, and then buy the latest state of the art one the next, making them more and more competitive. By the time our companies would have depreciated the equipment, the Japanese were 5 or more times efficient against our companies.

Part of our complicated tax law in the US gives different industries different depreciation schedules. For example, replacing computers at companies like Microsoft can be done more rapidly than standard companies, due to the ability to classify them as Research and Development (R&D) tools, rather than just standard business equipment. That Microsoft tests new Operating systems and programs like Word on their internal computer users first, allows them to take advantage of this tax law issue.

Another thing to think about, is that we currently dominate the world in software, a business that generates not only great middle class and upper class jobs, and has an enormous effect on follow on jobs for low income workers, that often supply goods and services to these businesses, and to the universe of partner companies that establish offices in the area of the business, such as we see with partners to Microsoft,Boeing and Amazon. These businesses all   generate enormous tax revenues for our country. Working towards a beneficial trade agreement that forces other countries, like China or India,  to get better at supporting our intellectual property, such as software, music and film rights, is a good thing for American workers. Fighting trade deals and making it more punitive or operating outside of trade deals leads to piecemeal implementation (or no implementation) of protection of these laws. 

There is always an inbalance between competition between nations and even states. Most people have heard that Delaware  has a special tax law that allows corporations to form easily there and shelter themselves from taxes. Nevada, likewise is a haven for companies in other states, to use as a tax haven for their revenues to be gathered. A large global company, headquartered in the Bay area, can open a subsidiary in Nevada, and have all their revenues go there first, to avoid California tax rates. You likely have heard of our massive tax breaks to Boeing and other companies. These are our states’ TPP deals with internal US companies, and external foreign companies that can bring jobs. This is the way states compete. It is legal. Allowing corporations to have signification input on trade deals is the way to get US subject matter expertise to the table so that our negotiators can best understand what we need from other countries. It’s our governments fault if they allow corporations to bury tax advantages into these but it is not the fault of the agreeement. And it is a political football to pretend that the deal is the problem.

To be clear, there are many other isssues that are concerning in TPP, and again our Congressional delegation should support taking it out from behind it’s secrecy and opening the process up for feedback.  I support the documented TPP problems and the solutions to them that were laid out in a 20 page detailed over veiw by a consortium of the Sierra Club,  Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen, Institute for Policy Studies and Earth Justice in 2012. If you like detail on these issues go and read the document.

http://www.citizen.org/documents/tpp-investment-fixes.pdf

But the following article is a good generic article, useful for much more discussion, I present it with an eye on helping us better understand why our representatives in Congress in the Pacific NW are not flocking to damn TPP, while the outsiders, who have nothing to lose, are. Ultimately we need trade deals, but they need to protect our environment, our hard won intellectual property. We must make sure they don’t give hidden benefits to countries and companies that are working against these issues.

Politics Of Trade: The Northwest’s Complicated Relationship To The TPP

http://www.opb.org/news/series/election-2016/tpp-trade-oregon-economic-impact-political/?utm_source=Sightline%20Institute&utm_medium=web-email&utm_campaign=Sightline%20News%20Selections

 

 

Dairy farmers tell state its rules on cow manure are too costly – AP

I’m afraid that I’m not on board with these new rules, unless we the tax payers are going to offer no interest loans or fund their needed work.  I want these dairies cleaned up, but am not willing to force them into it when this state could help them out. There is a middle way between forcing the change quickly or exempting huge amounts of dairies. Maybe a tax on all milk for 5 years to help fund the cost of the conversion?

The unintended consequence of this could be farms downsizing to just under the limit, or going out of business all together. Puget Soundkeeper Alliance has sometimes taken wrong approaches in the past to situations like this. It’s not the first time I’ve found myself disagreeing with their tactics. They often take too much of a “Big City” approach, and see the people in the hinterlands as easy targets.

Dairy farmers and environmentalists are criticizing new manure-control rules the state Department of Ecology plans to finalize early next year. The Capital Pressreported that at a public hearing on Tuesday, July 26, farmers said dairies already are heavily regulated and that Ecology’s new layer of mandates would be unnecessary and expensive…. After Tuesday’s hearing, Ecology’s special assistant on water policy, Kelly Susewind, said the department may consider redrawing the line and exempting more dairies…. Environmentalists testified that the department should require dairies to line lagoons with synthetic fabric to prevent leaks and to install wells to monitor groundwater. (Associated Press)

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/business/article92244202.html#storylink=mainstage

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