British Columbia Green Party shakes the vote

Expanding their reach from 1 to 3 members of Parliament, the BC Green party under the leadership of Andrew Weaver, has shaken BC politics to it’s core. The current situation after the vote showed Premiere Christie Clark losing her majority and having to form the first minority government in 65 years. Credit the Green Party for this change.

The Greens have obviously brought better candidates to the election, and some races are still too close to call. But Clark was clear that she is going to be governing from a minority position.

It is great to see a party that has been unable to bring significant candidates that can win to a position to influence the ability to govern. The tradeoffs to be made to allow Clark to continue governing means that the environment and other key Green issues, are going to be heard in a new and more significant way.

I like Vaughn Palmer’s take on the outcome.

Vaughn Palmer: Not sure who won yet, but Christy Clark definitely lost

Dear Scott Pruitt, you’re making a mockery of the EPA – Crosscut & KING 5

A strong letter to the  new EPA leader by a long time senior staffer, who just resigned.

However, I, and many staff, firmly believe the policies this Administration is advancing are contrary to what the majority of the American people, who pay our salaries, want EPA to accomplish, which are to ensure the air their children breath is safe; the land they live, play, and hunt on to be free of toxic chemicals; and the water they drink, the lakes they swim in, and the rivers they fish in to be clean.

Read the whole short piece at Crosscut. By the way, while you are there, donate a small bit to help continue their efforts. They run this great news source on a shoestring.



‘Job-killing regulations’ mantra and reality – Seattle Times

Regulations don’t kill jobs as much as shift them around. That doesn’t mean rules can’t cause pain locally. But an ill-advised rollback of regulations likely wouldn’t create many jobs, though it would increase dangers to health and the planet. Jon Talton writes. (Seattle Times)

EVENT: Farm Bureau to present on Hirst Decision 4/12 @7PM Chimicum Grange

Al Latham just alerted me that a fellow from the Farm Bureau will be doing a presentation on the Hirst Decision (on building permits and water rights) and current legislative activity around exempt wells at the Chimacum Grange, 7pm Wed April 12.

What is the Hirst Decision? It’s an extremely important new ruling that addresses an ongoing battle over development vs. water rights. Let me copy from the Dept of Ecology web site:

“A recent Washington State Supreme Court decision has changed how counties decide to approve or deny building permits that use wells for a water source.

In the Whatcom County vs. Hirst, Futurewise, et al. decision (often referred to as the Hirst decision), the court ruled that the county failed to comply with the Growth Management Act (GMA) requirements to protect water resources. The ruling requires the county to make an independent decision about legal water availability.


We protect rivers and streams across the state by creating instream flow rules, which set the amount of water necessary for protecting fish, wildlife and recreation. In 1985, we adopted an instream flow rule for the Nooksack River (WAC 173-501) in Whatcom County. This rule closed most streams in the watershed to new water right permits but allowed landowners to use permit-exempt wells in most of the area. Whatcom County’s development regulations followed our instream flow rule.

A reliable, year-round supply of water is necessary for new homes or developments. Before the Oct. 6, 2016, court decision, many counties relied on what the Department of Ecology said about whether year-round water was available. This court decision changes that – counties now have to make their own decisions about whether there is enough water, physically and legally, to approve a building permit that would rely on a well.


The case directly relates to Whatcom County but appears to set legal precedent that applies in other counties where there are instream flow rules that were not intended to regulate permit-exempt water uses. It is unclear how the decision affects areas of the state where there are no instream flow rules. Counties are working to review the decision and what it means for them. Contact your county’s building, planning or health departments if you have questions about how the Hirst decision may affect you.

Key points

  • Science has shown that rivers and streams are generally connected to groundwater. The Washington State Supreme Court said that water is not legally available if a new well would impact a protected river or stream, or an existing senior water right.
  • If your county determines that water is not legally available for your new use, the county would not be able to approve your building permit – even if you have already drilled a well.
  • We are providing technical assistance to counties as they determine their next steps. Our priority will be to provide information about the status of stream closures and instream flows.
  • Anyone with questions about how the decision affects them should contact their county government.


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.
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