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)

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s Industry Pick for the E.P.A. – New Yorker

The new Trump Administration declares war on the environment with this nomination.

Garvin Isaacs, the president of the Oklahoma Bar Association, isn’t one for understatement, but he topped himself in his reaction to the news that Donald Trump is expected to nominate Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, to run the Environmental Protection Agency…. Isaacs is a colorful and respected local litigator who has long been a thorn in the side of Oklahoma’s powerful. He claims the fossil-fuel industry “owns the whole darn state.” But his worries at the state level are now national. By choosing Pruitt, Isaacs said, Trump has outsourced his environmental policy to the Republican Party’s most powerful private donors—the oil-and-gas magnates who have funded Pruitt’s campaigns in Oklahoma. Jane Mayer reports. (New Yorker)

The Vote…Environmental Disaster Nationally, Multiple Wins Locally

The results for the environment. We have had a string of great wins locally and state wide, but at the national level, things are looking horrible. It means that anyone wanting to support the environment, will need to knuckle down, build greater coalitions than they currently do, and reach out to educate Washington D.C. about the needs of this coast. In short, don’t look to the Federal government for help anymore. That chapter of our history is closed. No one can predict what happens now. Perhaps what can be predicted is that climate change will continue and probably accelerate, since this country has just decided to ignore it. The positive take on this? It’s that the business community has a way of working on environmental issues because it has to, a luxury that Congress and the President doesn’t. If you look at what is happening with insurance companies refusing to offer insurance or hiking insurance to shoreline owners, especially in Florida, New Jersey, and in flood plains, you can see what I mean.

November Elections

Here are the other candidates that I believed would do the most to benefit the environment in Jefferson County and the Olympic Peninsula. In general, the local environmental movement won handily.

  • Senator, State of Washington – Patty MurrayMurray Wins. 
    • Senator Murray continues to do a superb job of being the senior Senator in the state. Her work on VA funding in the face of Republican obstruction, along with numerous environmental bill support allows her to easily gain our vote.
  • Governor – Jay Inslee. Inslee wins. 
    • Jay is the most devoted environmental governor we have ever had. He is leading the state forward in many key areas, such as Ocean Acidification, Global Warming issues, coal and oil train issues, and many others.  He’s on the correct side of almost all environmental issues. Maybe not always as far as we’d like, but he does have to work with the State House and Senate to get things done, along with convincing the public of the correct course.
  • 6th Congressional District – Derek Kilmer. Kilmer wins. 
    • Representative Kilmer has done a solid job of promoting environmental issues in his first term. He has proven his ability to fight for climate change and other important issues, though on thorny issues  closer to home  such as the Whidbey Island Naval Base jet expansion, and the Electronic Warfare Range on the west end of the Peninsula,  he has been too lukewarm about digging in and representing citizen concern over the military. There are serious environment issues that the expansion of the base and it’s operations raises, including whether it is even appropriate to continue to use this base as a staging location given the growth of the population around it since it was originally put in place. Remember that over tens of thousands of signatures were collected protesting this issue, yet Derek has not responded other than a small token effort. Derek’s middle of the road position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a difficult policy decision for him. We live in the State of Boeing and Microsoft, two companies that benefit from more free trade, creating tens of thousands of jobs, and much wealth for our State. Since the TPP is not yet complete, (though leaked copies have enflamed Democrats and Republicans like Trump alike) it’s understandable that Kilmer would want to wait and see how the final wording lands.  However, given other issues that he has worked on, and the lack of background in environmental issues from his opponents, we suggest to re-elect him.  We’re hoping that he will become more focused on correcting TPP (it’s unlikely he would work to defeat it), seriously questioning the Navy’s expansion plans, and listening to his constituents to a greater degree.  Any Republican elected will likely support TPP and the military wholeheartedly.
  • State Senator  District 24 – Kevin Van De Wege Kevin wins.
    • Kevin’s long time support of environmental protection is quite impressive. He came around on eliminating fire retardants in products in the State, being willing to listen to facts and change his opinion by thinking through the issues. Very rare in a politician these days. He now is the champion in the State House for banning fire retardants. Vote him into the Senate!
  • State Representative District 24 – Mike Chapman – Chapman Wins.
    • Mike Chapman has been doing heavy lifting in the highly contentious world of Clallam County politics. He has sided with environmental protection and convinced his constituents that he has their backs. Endorsed by the North Olympic Sierra Club. 
  • Jefferson County District 1 – Kate Dean. Kate Dean wins.
    • Kate has been a seriously committed community activist, both in our leading edge small farm community and in environmental issues. We highly recommended  Kate to join our county commissioners. She was vying to replace long time commissioner and environmental supporter, Phil Johnson, who is retiring. We will miss Phil’s great intense devotion to wild salmon and fighting net pens in our county. I think that Tim Thomas is a decent person, but not of the same depth of experience that Kate brings to the job.
  • Jefferson County District 2 – David Sullivan. David wins. 
    • He has done a good job of supporting citizen needs in health care, and supports environmental efforts when they arise.  He comes from a health care background, so he knows those issues well.
  • State Commissioner of Public Lands – Hilary Franz Wins.
    •  Hilary has been an environmental lawyer working at Futurewise, an NGO.  She also has an impressive list of endorsements, including State Senator Kevin Ranker,  Denis Hayes (of Earth Day fame). Ron Sims, along with local long time environmental activist Jerry Gorsline, who has worked with her and highly respects her ability.  
  • State Supreme Court
    • This is a key position in protecting challenges to our environmental laws. Over and over again the Supreme Court has taken a  role in deciding whether or nor our laws have been written appropriately. There was a campaign by right wing business interests, including Steve Ballmer from Microsoft, to spend huge sums to oust Charlie Wiggens. Now the issue is whether the next Supreme Court will uphold any of their rulings that get challenged.
      • Mary Yu – WINS
      • Barbara Madsen – WINS
      • and Charlie Wiggens.- WINS
  • Washington State Lt. Governor – Cyrus Habib – Habib wins. 
    • A dynamic speaker, and a person committed to supporting people of color in getting access to the vote.
  • Washington Secretary of State – Tina PodlodowskiAppears Podlodowski loses. 
    • Tina has worked a lot on key issues in this state. Since she retired from high tech she has fought for a lot of great causes, from Seattle City Council positions to many other causes.
  • Jefferson County PUD – Barney Burke. Loses.
    • I liked Mr Randall in the race, but endorsed Barney.  Mr. Burke had been a good voice on the PUD, he was the only one that had the foresight to call for changing the accounting system before conversion. The other commissioners did not listen and the PUD paid a high price in customer satisfaction and audit issues. Barney has also represented the PUD on the Energy Northwest board. For more on E.NW click this link. Barney’s campaign manager is Cindy Jayne, a very well respected environmental activist in the area, who has worked with Local 2020 on significant documentation of the issues of global warming on the North Olympic Peninsula. It said a lot  for Barney that she feels strongly enough about his abilities that she supports him.
  • Clallam County Commissioner District 2- Ron Richards. Appears to have lost. 
    • Initiative 1464 – Reforming Campaign Finance Laws – Vote YES. It seems to be  losing. 
      • This would: create greater transparency and accountability, limit big money influence and empower voters. It is an achievable reform.
      • A bizarre coalition of supporters, from the League of Women Voters, Spokane City Council, a founder of the Seattle Tea Party, Democratic legislators, and the former State Superintendent of Public Instruction, all support this initiative. It is opposed by mainly a group of Republicans such as Slade Gorton and Rob McKenna, two people I have never trusted to do the right thing for individuals over industry.
    • Initiative 732 – Impose a carbon tax – Vote no/ Appears to have lost. 
      • A very hard thing to vote no on. Perhaps the most difficult decision I’ve faced since starting this web site in 2007.
        • I am basing my rejection of this very well intentioned initiative because it will significantly impact state tax revenues, by almost $800 Million over six years. A senior Democratic environmental leader in the State Senate clearly outlined to me and others that this initiative did not get backing from the majority of environmental organizations in the State. This is just at the point where we are attempting to find more money for education, and watching many environmental budgets shrink because of it. It does not actually change any of the huge pollution problems. It does not invest where we need to invest. This initiative is not supported by the Sierra Club, nor many unions for a good reason. We need to do this the right way, and get buy in from all the various groups, not just one or two. We need to pass an initiative that will support low income families, actually create clean energy jobs and not lower pollution. I do not see how this initiative does that, and am unwilling to support something just because we “need to get something done.”
    • Initiative 735 – Federal Constitutional Amendment – Rights belong to people, not corporations. – VOTE YES. Yes vote wins. 
      • It wins but it’s dead in the water with the new administration. It was supposed to support the national efforts to overturn Citizens United.  A no brainer. But won’t change anything until later, when the Federal Congress takes it up. It’s a resolution to *urge* our Congresspeople to pass this .
    • Senate Joint Resolution 8210 – Vote Yes. APPROVED.
      • By-partisan support for shortening the redistricting process.

Thoughts on the new Puget Sound Task Force – Salish Sea Communications

This was originally posted on Mike Sato’s “Salish Sea Communications“. It is a reply to Mike’s commentary on the newly formed Puget Sound Federal Task Force. It clarifies many things that probably could have been stated in a Press Release. With so many stakeholders out there, it seemed very confusing to many of us, and when people working for the Partnership did not know a thing about it in advance, I would have to stick with my perception  that it came out of the blue. However,  we appreciate Jacques White’s commentary.

The recent announcement from the White House did not come out of the blue. Congressman Denny Heck introduced the Puget SOS Act in September of 2015 and has been working advance the legislation since.

By this summer, it appeared that the Act, like many other pieces of federal legislation wasn’t going to get through Congress to the President by the end of his term. Congressman Heck along with Congressman Kilmer began working with federal agencies and the Puget Sound Partnership to look for other ways to move action on recovery of the Sound, and to foster greater federal investment and attention to the region. The funding announced is welcome, but the formation of a federal Taskforce in DC is perhaps more important, as it puts Puget Sound at an administrative level of attention closer to Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes and the Florida Everglades. 

Of the $600M in new money, $450M is to support projects that came out of the Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project , a joint effort of the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife that started a major effort to evaluate nearshore problems and project ideas in 2001. The final Engineer’s Report released this year identifies over $1 billion in nearshore related projects, and the three projects targeted for the first phase estimated to cost $450M. The $20M for the Skokomish River and the $23M for the Mud Mountain Dam are similarly well vetted USACOE projects that address specific habitat or barrier problems and were ripe for inclusion in a funding package.

The $124M in federal funding is for the implementation of the Puget Sound Action Agenda and represents a 5 year commitment for EPA to match an equal investment from the state of Washington. It should be noted that all of the investments will require Congressional or state legislative appropriations, but the commitments from the executive branch, EPA and the Department of Defense to move forward on these positive steps to recover Puget Sound are significant.

This is all important work, but does not encompass even all the nearshore habitat needs, let alone the water quality issues we face which by some estimates amount to a staggering $500 billion dollar price tag if we were to capture and treat all stormwater in the Puget Sound Basin.

But as I mentioned previously, perhaps the most significant portion of the recent announcement is the formation of the federal Taskforce. From the announcement:

“The Task Force announced today is designed to effectively approach the multi-faceted threats these ecosystems face through development of a “Puget Sound Action Plan” to better coordinate federal programs and focus restoration efforts. The Task Force will develop this action plan in collaboration with the State of Washington and in consultation with tribal governments, as well as through input from a diverse group of stakeholders.

In particular, the Task Force will build on identified priorities in three categories: stormwater management, shellfish sustainability, and habitat protection and expansion.”

It should be noted that the “Puget Sound Action Plan” is for the federal agencies, and we can hope that it parallels the Puget Sound Action Agenda developed by Puget Sound Partnership, and that it focuses greater federal investment of our national time and treasure to recover Puget Sound and the Salish Sea.

The announced investments are relevant, valuable and timely. I would not get too worked up about whether you were deeply involved in the timing or content of the recent announcement, which was driven by strategies relevant inside the Washington, DC beltway. I would put your energy into supporting the planned expenditures in Congress and in the state legislature, and I would focus on getting your voices heard as the federal Taskforce works with regional interests to develop their action plan.

Outside Magazine Hilary Clinton and Trump Environmental Scorecards

Worth the read

Outside Magazine Hilary Clinton Environmental Scorecard

Outside Magazane Donald Trump Environmental Scorecards


Activists dispute Bryant’s claim that he’s an environmentalist – Seattle Times

I am not going to attack Bryant’s environmental record, as he has served with Billie Frank Jr. on the restoration efforts for the Nisqually River, along with other small projects. I do believe that he is sincere in thinking of himself as environmentally aware. I would like to question it though.  I even find myself supporting his notion that some of the events that the environmental community goes after, like the Shell port in Seattle, are more symbolic than real, and they put elected officials like Bryant, between a rock and a hard place, in that putting Shell in Seattle would have created hundreds of jobs, and it was his job to look at that issue from both sides. The Shell port issue was great for raising money from donors, but had little or nothing to do with Shell’s abandonment of the idea, given the economic collapse of oil prices globally and the long time frames needed to pull off projects like that one. And it hasn’t changed the demand curve of people driving cars more because oil and gas is cheap.

But it is very interesting to note that almost every major effort to push forward legislation in the State has always been stymied by donations and influence of Big Oil on our politics. We environmental activists  spend weeks or months driving decent,  often bi-partisan bills forward, to watch as Big Oil drives in and dumps a load of cash on the doorsteps of the legislators, and surprise, the bill dies. To Bill Bryant, all I can say is, “you can’t have it both ways.” Either you stop taking donations for your campaigns from the likes of Rainier Petroleum or stop pretending it doesn’t influence your voting.

As to his opposition to Sound Transit. Opposition to Sound Transit is not just a Republican vs. Democrat issue, the price tag is incredibly high and there seems no effort to find reasonably priced alternatives. This is because it’s a job creation mechanism and the unions that back the Democratic candidates demand that they support these efforts as a mechanism to greenwash the fact that it simply provides more union jobs, with very little change to the amount of cars on the road.  So be it. That’s politics in Seattle. You might remember that this same coalition attacked and destroyed the Monorail proposals, though some of the Monorail’s problems were self-inflicted.

But the bottom line is that Jay Inslee is willing to take hard stands and put his reputation on the line to go after the big picture as well as the small one. That’s the kind of leadership we need to really change the grim picture for our children and grandchildren, whom we are threatening with our addiction to oil. That’s why I support him, and will vote for Inslee in November. I recommend you do too.

The Republican candidate for governor sees himself as a conservationist in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt; critics say his record suggests otherwise. Lewis Kamb reports. (Seattle Times)

Department of Natural Resources issues plan to guide West End forest management -PDN

It appears that this new guide for forest management may be an improvement. The environmental community seems to be cautiously optimistic for this, and use of more site specific new technology to adapt forest management to the facts on the ground seems to be a good move.

“This roadmap for experimentation, research and monitoring will help DNR find new and better ways of reaching its timber harvest goals and ecological objectives …”

For those wonks wanting to read the document, go here:

The 171-page document is available on the DNR website,

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