EVENT: Meet Lorna Smith Commissioner Dept of Fish & Wildlife Sept 21 online

Well worth an hour to hear from a key State Commissioner. Click anywhere on the photo below to be taken to the signup page. The RSVP link does not work in the image.

Elections 2015 – Some surprises Some not.

Off Year elections are always hard. Low voter turnout is a problem. Here’s some of the wins.

Jefferson County

  • The hotly contested Port Commissioner – Diana Talley defeated by Steve Tucker. Diana did a great job as a newcomer to the political scene but some of her supporters did not do their homework in attacking the Port.
  • Jefferson County Hospital Commissioner – Kees Kolf is now another voice for change on the Commission. A good thing.
  • Hospital Commissioner Dist. 2 – Marie Dressler trounced Paul Stafford. The Status Quo wins here.
  • Port Townsend City Council – The young and the restless win. It will be interesting to see how they do as they learn the craft of politics in a small town. Just remember, you will always make enemies when you take a position, so do it with kindness, but take it anyway. And keep an open mind, so many of us were so convinced of our positions when young, only to find out later how much we didn’t know. Some of us still don’t!

Clallam County

  • Mark Ozias trounces Jim McEntire for County Commissioner!  While this won’t change the balance of power at the Clallam County Commissioners offices, it will add a voice of reason to extreme views of the other commissioners, who are doing their best to roll back all environmental efforts of the County.

Seattle Port Commissioner

  • Fred Felleman – An outsider wins a seat at the Port, which matters because of Shell Oil wanting to use the Port as a pit stop to Alaska North Slope Oil. Fred has been laboring for years on oil spill prevention in Puget Sound. He likely will be a strong voice for environmental concerns.

Initiative 1366 – 2/3rds for Tax Hike

  • Tim Eyman’s latest attempt to hobble the State to collect new taxes is currently winning, and likely headed for the Supreme Court, where we can only hope it gets thrown out. This  initiative that played on the voter sentiment of no new taxes  and would likely  lead to more toll roads, higher ferry fees, less taxes for infrastructure and other desperate state needs, was accepted by voters in all counties but Jefferson, Thurston and King. The opponents of Eyman’s initiatives should hire better consultants to help them get their message out next time.

Inslee: I’ll use my authority to impose cap on emissions  – Seattle Times

This is what is needed in the face of our drought, and the unprecedented warming of the seas that sustain us here in the Pacific NW. Leadership is needed. We voted for him to be a leader and that’s what we are getting. Thanks to Governor Inslee for not waiting for Republicans to come meet him halfway, because they have said repeatedly that they won’t. Given that a huge number of them represent some of the hardest hit areas of the state by this years drought, I suppose that means their constituents will suffer the worst. Maybe it will get them off the dime.

Frustrated by legislative inaction on climate, Gov. Jay Inslee plans to wield his administration’s executive authority to impose a binding cap on carbon emissions in Washington state. Inslee on Tuesday directed the state Department of Ecology to step up enforcement of state pollution laws and develop the emissions cap — aimed at enforcing greenhouse-gas-reduction targets that have been in state law since 2008. Jim Brunner and Hal Bernton report. (Seattle Times)


Crazy Dems – Inslee and Goldmark decide their base is irrelevant

Over the last week, I’ve read or listened to the most bizarre stories about our Democratic Governor Jay Inslee and Democratic Commissioner of Public Lands, Peter Goldmark. After courting the environmental wing of the Democratic voters with their long standing support of environmental protection, we now find both of them throwing this base under the bus.

It wasn’t bad enough, that Inslee named former head of the Department of Ecology, Ted Sturdevant, to be his Policy chief. Sturdevant, who appeared clueless through the battles over the net pen controversy in Puget Sound in the last few years, and  allowed DOE   to fight Jefferson County for refusing to allow  net pens, which DOE had allowed to be banned in another county previously.

Now, Inslee has hired a coal lobbyist, albeit a Democratic one, to direct his policy office. Matt Steuerwalt, is going to run the policy wing of the governor’s office. Steurwalt has recently been the lead advocate for coal fired power plants and coal ports in the State. To be clear, Mr. Steurwalt might be a perfectly wonderful Dem, but in politics perception trumps reality. Why would any Democrat or environmentalist put a coal lobbyist in charge of policy at a point when policy for coal trains is being debated?

Yesterday, Inslee announced that he also would likely trade away concerns of the Tribes and the environmental community, and support business demands, by raising the limit of possibly cancer causing fish a person can eat. This was in lieu of asking for stricter controls on pollution by the likes of Boeing, whom promptly announced that they were shipping 1000 high paying jobs out of state anyway. Interesting who was behind the decision, none other than Ted Sturdevant.

Inslee article

Boeing article

Analysis by Billie Frank Jr. on behalf of the NW Indians Fisheries Commission


Also, in the last two weeks, we’ve had Department of Natural Resources head Peter Goldmark, first state, after the Oso landslide that his agency shouldn’t be blamed for allowing timber harvest on the top of the land that collapsed, instead blaming environmentalists for attacking DNR. There are a number of highly critical articles to his stand, including one in the New York Times, and one in the Stranger. I think that the lawsuits coming down the pike by the surviving homeowners and the estates of those who didn’t, will clearly establish who should be held responsible, and that is likely both Snohomish County land use staff (who might have changed zoning regs and given greater warning, no scratch that, any warning  to the homeowners there) and the politicians who supported those decisions, along with the departments in Olympia that did the scientific research, then ignored it, which seems to clearly be DNR. But fear not, you and I, the taxpayers, will likely foot the liability.

Then yesterday, Goldmark announced that, contrary to what he told supporters when he ran for the position, that he would never take industry money, actively reverse that stance and take $90,000 from the very interests that he regulates. While he may argue no quid pro quo, we all know that those with the biggest donation get the loudest voice in the battle for access to the powerful. If I had to venture a guess here, that in order to find the school funding that has been forced on the legislature by the McCleary Decision, that the pols in Oly have decided to get the funding by clear cutting their way out, enviros be damned. This so they don’t have to raise the Tax word in an election year. This puts Goldmark squarely in the hot seat, and my other guess is that he will not run again in 2 years. This would allow him to turn on his original funders, and never pay a price. In the meantime, Peninsula pols like Tharinger and Van de Wege, will be able to show support for the logging industry, which helps their Clallam County base. Just look at the parcels being clear cut on steep slopes on both sides of Hwy 20 near Eaglemount in Jefferson County near 101. Shades of Beaver Valley Road cutting in the early part of the 2000s.

With the  announcement that Inslee is not getting his way with the nomination of Jaxon Ravens to State Democratic Chairman instead of his choice of Dana Laurent, it certainly brings into question whether the base has turned on the elected officials in Olympia for failing to achieve anything of substance in the last session. It will be interesting to see, as Inslee and Goldmark get out to stump in the hinterlands this year, if they even do, whether they will face hostile party faithful in the areas that poured money into their campaigns and now find themselves wondering who these people actually represent.

Goldmark biting the hand that feeds…

Article questioning DNR decision to allow logging.
http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/03/27/is-there-a-connection-between-the-mudslide-and-our-states-historical-mishmash-of-logging-regulations that points to DNR ignoring scientific research on this very parcel.

Goldmark on campaign contributions:

Washington Gubernatorial Candidates On The Environment

The Washington gubernatorial nominees are in the final weeks of campaigning. Republican Rob McKenna and Democrat Jay Inslee are touring the state for photo opps and debates. There’s usually a question thrown in about environmental issues, but overall, the environment hasn’t been a major focus in this election. One expert in Washington politics says that’s because the economy is dominating the list of priorities for Washington voters. Ashley Ahearn reports.


Dems come out for Commissioner of Public Lands

Democrats, supporters and otherwise curious, came out last night at the Upstage in Port Townsend to hear from Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark . Commissioner Goldmark, up for re-election, in what appears to not be a tight race at this point, discussed his role for the crowd. He outlined that the Commissioner position handles a huge range of issues, from managing the state forest lands that are used to help fund the public schools (“about 40% of the money comes from us” he said), to fighting forest fires in eastern Washington. He is also in charge of the bottom lands of the Sound, Strait and out to 3 miles offshore on the Pacific Coast. He also manages the rivers of the state.

Closer to home, his agency is in charge of state tidelands, and as such, was responsible for helping put in place the aquatic reserves, that now protect almost 64k acres of sea bottom off Protection Island and Minor and Smith Islands. This act, which was proposed by People For Puget Sound, was championed by DNR. The purpose of this was to protect those areas from commercial exploitation, such as tidal turbines, and pipelines. They help to produce the fisheries that many of the pelagic birds of Protection Island feed on. The act has not affected fishing off these locations.

Commissioner Goldmark has done, to this reporter anyway,a great job of running an efficient agency, selling off numerous non-needed assets such as airplanes (the job entails traveling all over the state frequently, and in the past, most Commissioners flew in small planes for efficiency), and laying off staff where needed to help balance the budget, which unfortunately was left in disarray by his predecessor. He supported and got put in place the Aquatic Reserves proposals. He supported and forced the ending of the Maury Island quarry project, which was not wanted by the people of Vashon and King County, and could have had negative impacts on key salmon rearing habitat. He reversed the disastrous approval of the Pit To Pier, that was put in place in the lame duck days of his predecessor, over the objections of Jefferson county politicians. He lobbied the Governor to get money to cash strapped timber counties, including the Olympic Peninsula. This money was put back into local economies. He spearheaded the Puget Sound Corps, which has provided jobs to returning veterans and young people at time when jobs are very scarce.

The difficulty of his position is that, by it’s very nature, it is a position that forces the decision of industry over ecology. His stand on biomass is one area that needs greater clarification, and perhaps another look by him based on locale. Coming as he does from Eastern Washington, with the incredible destruction done by invasive pine beetles, it is natural that he look at biomass as a way to clear the forests so they don’t burn. We support the notion of experimenting with biomass to clear highly flammable underbrush and downed trees in Eastern Washington. However, he seems ignorant of issues faced here, as his own study from WSU, done for the Legislature in 2006, showed that there was not enough biomass to fuel the two proposed plants here on the Peninsula. Whether we are subjected to worsened air pollution by these plants, and whatever fuel they eventually burn, is something that he seemed to not be fully understanding.

But the evening belonged to him, (and his campaign manager wife, Wendy) as the Democrats presented him with a sizable check, and the questions were polite and comments were supportive.

Today, there are too few politicians that actually get positive things done for our environment. While we may not agree with all Commissioner Goldmark’s stands, we have found him to be a most effective Commissioner and highly support his candidacy for re-election.

ELECTION 2012 – Some environmental wins, some losses

A “reasonable” turnout of 42% of the Jefferson County voters give us a probable look at how the county might vote in November.

With the primary now over, we can evaluate the winners and their relationships with environmental issues. From the “bottom” up to the “top”.

Locally to Jefferson County:

County Commissioners: David Sullivan and Phil Johnson easily advanced. Both have been strong supporters of environmental issues locally.

State Representative 24th- Kevin Van De Wege ran unopposed, and Steve Tharinger has advanced. Tharinger has raised the hackles of local environmental supporters over his unwavering support of the controversial biomass conversion proposals, and some have wished for an alternative democratic candidate to support in this race. It will be interesting to see whether a larger voter turnout in November will bring his opponent any closer to winning. However, to be sure, his opponent is likely to be worse on environmental issues.

State Senator, District 24 – Long time State Senator Jim Hargrove advanced easily. Jim has supported environmental proposals in the past.

State Commissioner of Public Lands: Peter Goldmark, a strong supporter of environmental initiatives in a very difficult role to satisfy everyone, advanced handily.

State Attorney General: Bob Ferguson supported by the environmental coalition, did advance.

State Auditor: Pridemore possible loss Craig Pridemore is a State Senator, and former Washington Conservation Voter (WCV) Legislator of the Year, who understands that the State Auditor has an important role to play in protecting and enforcing I-937, the voter-approved Clean Energy Initiative. He was in second place but latest numbers show him slipping into third. More to come on this.

Governor: Jay Inslee easily advanced along with Rob McKenna. Jay has a long record of supporting environmental legislation, and more importantly, opposing anti-environmental legislation.

State Supreme Court – The loss of Bruce Hilyer in Position 9 is the one dark cloud on the horizon for environmental legislation. Both McCloud and Saunders are strongly in favor of property rights over the notion of local, state and national environmental regulation. However, the advancing of Susan Owens and Steven Gonzales holds out the hope that whichever of the two candidates wins, will be a minority opinion voice.

U.S. House: Derek Kilmer easily advanced. Surprise here was how wide the margin was. At the State level, he has voted consistently for environmental bills, such as banning mining on Maury Island, conversion of coal fired electric plants, reducing greenhouse emissions, banning PBDE’s which were getting into the Sound, and setting minimum renewable fuel requirements.

Maria Cantwell easily advanced. Cantwell received the highest rating possible from the League of Conservation Voters for her environmental voting record.

Sorry to see my old friend Greg Rankich go down to defeat in his first campaign over in the legislative district 1. Greg is part of a wide range of ex-Microsoft people who are continuing to get into politics after leaving MSFT. He would have brought an unconventional and likely fresh point of view to Olympia. I did not follow his campaign as it’s not ‘here’ but I wish him the best going forward.

Environmental Voters Guide for the Primaries

We have completed our campaign voters guide page to the primaries. Look under the 2012 Elections tab on our front page.

While the slate looks like a sweep of Democrats, we continue to view this blog as non-partisan, and await any Independent or Republican who can step forward and take environmental stands on issues.

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