Plastic Oceans Plastic Bags State Kicks off Campaign for a Statewide Reusable Bag Bill – PRX and others

Washington State Lawmakers are poised to work with environmental groups to push for a ban on plastic non resuseable or recycleable plastic bags this year. Australia just announced that they have reduced plastic bag use (think those white bags used at grocery stores for casual shopping) by 80% for the year. Given how much plastics we are finding in *all* our waters, as well as in our fish, this is a small but critical thing *everyone* can do. Let’s just do it!

According to the Washington State Environmental Coalition:

Thin plastic bags are used for only a few minutes and discarded. Only 6% of these bags are ever recycled. Plastic bags blow into our waterways and the ocean, clog the stomachs of wildlife, and break down into smaller pieces that also get eaten. Plastic bags also clog recycling equipment – costing money because they have to be extracted – and are the major contaminant in our commercial compost. The Reusable Bag Act would eliminate thin carry-home plastic bags at all retail establishments and include a pass-through charge to motivate people to bring their own reusable bags and help cover the stores’ cost of more expensive bags.

and from PRX

The campaign for a reusable statewide bag bill kicked off this month. Environmental organizations and their legislative allies hope to build off existing 23 local ordinances already in place in Washington and introduce the bill in the 2019 legislative session. Proponents say there are more than 86 million metric tons of plastic in our oceans with the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash for every foot of coastline spilling into oceans annually. Martha Baskin reports. (PRX)

Plastic Oceans Plastic Bags State Kicks off Campaign for a Statewide Reusable Bag Bill

 

Fight against bill attacking Marbled Murrelet habitat. HB2300 – NO

Was sent to us yesterday:
I wanted to update you on a few things. First, the hearing for HB 2300 went long and the committee wasn’t able to hear testimony from the public on 2300 specifically. The hearing has been rescheduled for January 10 at 8:00 am.
 
We’re concerned that this bills might be passed, and WEC is doing everything we can to get the language and intention of the bills right. However, we need the public to speak up on these issues and let legislators know that, not only are these bills unfairly blaming marbled murrelets for the economic struggles of rural communities, but they are really unhelpful. Those of us at WEC care about rural communities and want to see them thrive, but logging more state lands is not the way to achieve that. We want DNR and Hilary Franz to take a leadership role in her Solutions Table process and not have the legislature meddle in the process. And more importantly, your government leaders need to know that their constituents care about wildlife, forests and ecological systems, and about this little chunky bird that is teetering on extinction.
 
If you live in the 19th or 24th district—your voice is especially important since these areas are rural and heavily timber-dependent. Please take the time to review some of our talking points and email the legislators on the committees considering the bills. See attached document for more information.
 
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE—PLEASE SEND YOUR EMAIL(S) BEFORE THURSDAY, JANUARY 11.
 
As always, let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
 
Thanks, 
Arianne
 
Arianne Jaco • Evergreen Forests Program Associate
 
 Washington Environmental Council  wecprotects.org
1402 Third Avenue | Suite 1400 | Seattle, WA 98101
 

Senate blocks legislation to undercut EPA clean water rules – AP

Another reason to support Democrats in your local and national elections. The Republicans continue to push to remove all environmental restrictions on our waters, as the Conservatives under Harper in Canada did in the last dozen years there. With the general population supporting environmental laws in the abstract, they continue to vote for people who don’t in the real world.

Democrats have blocked a Senate bill that would have forced the Obama administration to withdraw new federal rules to protect smaller streams, tributaries and wetlands from development and pollution. Supporters of the legislation — and opponents of the rules — did not get the 60 votes needed Tuesday to stop debate and consider the bill. The vote was 57-41, meaning Democrats have blocked the bill, for now. Most Democrats argue that the Obama administration rules will safeguard drinking water for 117 million Americans and say they should remain in place. The White House threatened a veto of the bill, saying the regulations are “essential to ensure clean water for future generations.” Mary Clare Jalonick reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.seattlepi.com/news/medical/article/Senate-legislation-would-block-EPA-clean-water-6607613.php

After 25 Years Of Pollution Prevention, Wash. State Working Toward Greener Chemicals – KPLU

A good quick overview of the next wave of pollution control. Focusing on engineering right from the start. The only way to really fix the problem, frankly.

It has been 25 years since the federal government passed the Pollution Prevention Act. The 1990 law is credited with reducing industrial waste by as much as 60 percent since it was enacted, by getting companies and governments to look upstream at what goes into the manufacturing process and stopping pollution at the source. But the effectiveness of that approach appears to have limits. With many toxic chemicals remaining, especially in consumer products, additional strategies are needed. And that’s where states come in. Washington is considered a pioneer. Ken Zarker, a section manager for pollution prevention with the State Department of Ecology,  says Washington has 8 or 9 laws on the books that are looked to by experts as model legislation for the reduction of toxic chemicals. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

http://kplu.org/post/after-25-years-pollution-prevention-wash-state-working-toward-greener-chemicals-0

Jefferson County Dems Adopt Marbled Murrelet Resolution

The Jefferson County Democrats adopted, on Tuesday, a resolution urging the Board of Natural Resources to adopt the strongest of the alternatives it is considering for protection of marbled murrelet habitat. As a federally listed threatened species, the murrelet is protected on federal lands, but not on private lands. The bird has been protected on state trust lands under an interim conservation strategy since 1997, years before most research on the murrelet’s ecological requirements took place.

“The state’s own scientists showed in 2008 that this threatened species is still declining because of our logging practices,” said Bruce Cowan, Chair of the Jefferson County Democrats. “If this species is going to survive, we can’t just keep cutting the trust lands where these birds nest.”

The meeting followed a presentation by Kevin Schmelzlen of the Murrelet Survival Project. Not until 1974 did scientists discover that, unlike any other seabird, the murrelet nests in forests, flying as far as fifty miles inland to nest on large branches high in old growth forests. Breeding pairs switch places daily, with one parent feeding on small fish while the other incubates their single egg.

The Washington State Board of Natural Resources is currently considering five alternatives for habitat protection on state trust lands. According to Shmelzlen, only Alternative E responds to the 2008 Science Report, developed by researchers for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The issue of murrelet habitat conservation has been contentious. In 2013, the courts halted a DNR approved harvest of 12,000 acres of timber in Southwest Washington. The Forest Resources Council, an advocate for the timber industry, was unsuccessful in its attempt to have the murrelet de-listed as a threatened species.

“We’ve waited long enough for action,” said Cowan. “Adopting a clear policy based on the 2008 Science Report will make it easier for DNR to do its work. With fewer lawsuits, the flow of timber revenues to state and local governments will be more predictable,” said Cowan. “The set aside is not huge, and it could save a species from extinction.”

Event: JeffCo Democrats discuss Marbled Murrelet Resolution – 10/27

Tuesday, October 27, JCD Membership Meeting, Program and Business Meeting on Murrelet Resolution, 
Port Townsend Community Center, 7 p.m.
Following a presentation by Kevin Schmelzlen (Murrelet Survival Project) and Peter Bahls (Northwest Watershed Institute

), the members will meet to discuss a resolution regarding Survival of the Marbled Murrelet. Here are the meeting agenda, minutes of last meeting, and the resolution.
The Marbled Murrelet is more than a cute little bird. This threatened species is in decline in Washington, partly because our state has taken a very long time to adopt public policies for managing our mature and ancient forests, a source of revenue for the state and local governments, in a way that provides for its long-term survival.
If passed, the resolution calls on the state to immediately adopt a long-term survival plan for the marbled murrelet, and it calls on the  Board of County Commissioners to speak up, as well. If passed, the resolution would also go forward to the Washington State Democrats for their consideration in January.

Republicans kill the Land and Water Conservation Fund

One of the most successful conservation programs in the Federal Government, The Land and Water Conservation Fund, has been allowed to sunset by the Republican controlled Congress. This program, which has been supported for 50 years by both parties, up to now. What is it? What good has it done? Why not let it die?

According to the Land and Water Fund Coalition,

The LWCF state assistance program provides matching grants to help states and local communities protect parks and recreation resources. LWCF funding has benefited nearly every county in America, supporting over 41,000 projects. From building hiking and biking trails, to improving community parks, playgrounds and ballfields, this 50:50 matching program is the primary federal investment tool to ensure that families have easy access to public, open spaces.

Rep. Rob Bishop, a Republican from Utah who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee is the person responsible for this change, even though his state benefits from it.

If we just focus on Washington State, this program has used some of the royalties from off shore oil and gas leasing, (not tax dollars from US citizens) to fund a wide variety of projects, from maintenance of Mount Rainier’s Carbon River bridges, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, The Moses Coulee, North Cascades National Park, Mt St. Helens, the list goes on and on and can be found here http://www.lwcfcoalition.org/washington.html.

Closer to home, here on the Olympic Peninsula, this program has funded, over the last 50 years, the Bogachiel River Boat Launch repair, maintenance at Clallam Bay, Clallam Bay Spit development, Freshwater Bay development, Snow Creek Renovation, Salt Creek County Parks renovation, and the Shane Park Playground in Port Angeles. Remember, Clallam County usually votes Republican, and this is what you are getting folks for your support of that party, which now controls the purse strings at the Federal Level.

In Jefferson County, Fort Worden State Park was funded with over $156, 000, The Hoh River Boat Launch, Kai Tai Park, Fort Worden Breakwater, and the Point Whitney (south in the county on Hood Canal) acquisition all were supported by funding from this program. You can find the entire list of funded projects here: http://www.nps.gov/lwcf/index.htm

What did Congress want to use the funds for? They want to give this money to the oil and gas industry for employee training. You read that right. They want to give the money to private enterprises to offset their employee training, which will make them more profitable by not having to spend that money themselves.

What can you do? There is a letter called the “Dear Colleagues” that is a method that Congress uses to show support for various funding programs.  Representative Derek Kilmer has yet to sign one, while most of our other representatives have. (see the list at the bottom of the page here (http://www.lwcfcoalition.org/washington.html). Call or email Derek and ask him to sign one now.  UPDATE: Representative Kilmer’s Olympic Peninsula Field Representative Judith Morris wrote back this morning to let me know that Representative Kilmer has in fact signed a letter sent by 129 Democratic members of the House ( and a similar letter was penned by many Republicans), to reauthorize the Fund.

In the letter sent last week, the members wrote: “LWCF is our nation’s premier program to help local communities protect the places they love. It has conserved iconic landscapes in every state and is responsible for more than 40,000 state and local outdoor recreation projects such as playgrounds, parks, refuges, and baseball fields.”

It goes on to state that Rep. Kilmer is a cosponsor of a bill that would permanently reauthorize the LWCF.

If you happen to live in a county that has a Republican representing you at the Federal level, give them a piece of your mind. If you belong to an organization that supports outdoor recreation in any form, get them to act nationally. And vote idiots like Rob Bishop out next year. He has wasted an enormous amount of time from Congress for an idea that no one but him and other oil and gas funded Congresspeople wants to see implemented.

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