Senator Ranker chosen to chair new Senate Environment & Tourism Committee and lead on environmental budget

This will be an important position in the upcoming legislative session.


OLYMPIA – Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) was selected by his peers in the Senate Democratic Caucus to chair the new Environment & Tourism Committee in the 2019 Legislative Session.

“From our Salish Sea to our orcas to plastic pollution to community health and climate change, our environment and our children’s future has never been at greater risk,” said Ranker. “While the federal administration denies science and institutes reckless policies, Washingtonians want to protect and sustain the incredible quality of life in our communities. I am honored to help lead a powerful environmental agenda in both this new committee as well as our capital and operating budgets to make sure that we don’t just survive the next two years, but put in place incredible environmental policies that protect our environment and our future for generations.”

Recognizing the incredible environmental opportunities before us, the Senate is restructuring environmental oversight by establishing a new committee with general oversight of environmental protection and policies. The committee members will also work to boost our state’s tourism industry. A 2015 study showed that Washington’s outdoor recreation industry generates more than $20 billion annually.

Ranker will also serve as vice-chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee for the environment for both the capital and operating budgets where he will play a leadership role in the development of the critical environmental and natural resources budgets.

 

Report from the Climate Change Front – State Senator Kevin Ranker at the NW Straits Conference

Washington State is in the forefront of the impacts of climate change around the world. In addition to actually feeling the effects, in alarming problems emerging in our waters that are impacting shellfish, we have a state legislature and governor that have demanded and funded serious scientific study along with  a feedback loop to the lawmakers from the Governor’s directives, as well as State law.

It is difficult to collate all the scientific efforts of this funding into a neat package, but once or twice a year, we get a window into that work. The Northwest Straits Initiative, which for over 15 years has brought together scientists, business interests, tribes  and volunteer citizens, holds their annual conference.  These people belong to the Marine Resource Committees  (MRCs) of seven counties, from Snohomish to the Canadian border, and west through the Strait of Juan de Fuca (along with non-NW Straits Initiative managed counties along the Coast). The MRC  representatives  come together to share the stories of their work, and hear a unified program of science efforts that support or influence that work.

This year, the conference attendees, were treated to an update on many of the various climate change issues that they face. As part of our coverage of this important conference, and because the NW Straits does not have the financial capabilities to hold a large public forum, we  at the Olympic Peninsula Environmental News present a series of presentations to you over the next few weeks, to allow the general public to hear what was told to the attendees. Given that the attendees are mainly volunteers (there are a few part time staff members in each jurisdiction to help in project management and grant writing), and come forward from the local communities, for those who are interested in volunteering, or cannot afford the time and money to attend the conference, we will post audio of all the presentations we were able to cover, which was all but two, and in addition, as time allows, we will also post the powerpoint presentations of those speakers who used it.

Washington State Senator Kevin leads off the presentations. Hailing from  San Juan County,  Senator Ranker has been instrumental in providing support with funding and legislation to scientific research and policy guidance on ocean acidification (OA). OA research is a critical to fund, as the effects of the increased acidification, in even small degrees, appears to have serious outcomes on shellfish, which provides over $270 million dollars a year (2010 number), and over 3200 direct jobs, most of them in rural and lower income communities around the Sea.  These jobs also support the wider communities they live in with indirect jobs, in supporting industries.

Senator Ranker’s presentation can be found at the following link. You can listen to it right here, or download it for later listening on any MP3 player, or your tablet or PC. The presentation is 38 minutes long, and Senator Ranker’s slides will likely be available later. It is our opinion that not immediately having his slides will not detract from his message. The Senator is a very humorous and off the cuff speaker.

If you wish to attend any of the monthly MRC meetings in your area, check their local web sites. All meetings are open to the public and are advertised in advance. You can also support the work of the NW Straits Initiative, by donating to the NW Straits Foundation. Their web site is http://www.nwstraits.org and http://www.nwstraits.org/Foundation/About.aspx.

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