2019 Legislative Priorities
Environment Washington is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization. Whether it’s enjoying Puget Sound, exploring Mount Rainier, or enjoying a special place closer to home, Washington’s natural wonders enrich our lives in countless ways. Yet the places we love and the values we share are too often threatened. We research the issues and educate the public about what’s at stake. Environment Washington draws on 40 years of success in tackling our state’s top environmental problems.
Clean, Green, and Renewable Energy
Too much of the energy we use comes from dirty sources that harm our environment. By tapping into the power of the sun, utilizing our wind energy potential, and using less energy in the first place through efficiency measures, we can repower our lives with clean energy that doesn’t pollute and never runs out. And keeps energy dollars in our economy, while putting people to work in our communities.
- Environment Washington supports Washington’s 100% Clean, Renewable Energy Bill, a bill that would require Washington’s electricity grid to be fossil-free, while also prioritizing energy efficiency, demand response, storage, renewable energy and other solutions to reduce carbon pollution on the grid and transition Washington towards 100% clean, renewable energy.
- Environment Washington supports legislation for Energy Efficient Buildings. This policy would help residents and businesses save energy and reduce carbon pollution from their homes and buildings by increasing the efficiency of new and existing buildings. We support policy that allows cities and counties the option to require more sustainable new residential construction, and to require large commercial buildings to meet whole building energy standards beginning in 2026.
- Environment Washington supports legislation to update our Appliance Efficiency Standards. Increasing appliance efficiency will reduce electricity and natural gas usage, water consumption, and carbon pollution. The bill being proposed would implement 17 new standards, 1 revised standard and sustains 5 current standards to products sold, offered for sale or installed in the state.
- Environment Washington supports the Solar Fairness Act. We need to update Washington’s net metering law. This bill would build on Washington’s successful net metering policy by increasing the cumulative generation capacity requirement in each utility territory, and thereby increase clean, renewable solar energy deployment in Washington.
We need to defend and promote more open spaces, wild places, and wildlife by reducing plastic pollution, banning bee-killing pesticides, defending public lands, blocking offshore oil drilling and protecting tropical forests.
- WILDLIFE OVER WASTE: Environment Washington supports the Reusable Bag Bill, a bill that would reduce plastic pollution by banning single-use plastic bags in WA. It is estimated that Washingtonians use 2 billion single-use plastic bags annually. Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our oceans and rivers and threaten wildlife for centuries.
- WILDLIFE OVER WASTE: Environment Washington supports legislation that reduces other single-use plastics, including straws, utensils, coffee stirrers, and Styrofoam, among other items. Plastic pollution, which never fully degrades, harms wildlife in the ocean, in rivers, and on the surrounding lands. Plastic has been documented in nearly 700 species of marine life, including gray whales found washed up on the shores of the Salish Sea.
- NO OFFSHORE DRILLING: Environment Washington supports legislation that prevents offshore oil drilling and prevents offshore oil from coming into Washington ports. When we drill, we spill — and when we spill off our shores, it can spell disaster for the whales, dolphins and coral that live in our oceans. Not only is drilling dangerous for our ecosystem, it’s also increasingly unnecessary. Here in Washington, we can build a cleaner, brighter future. That means powering our lives with energy from renewable sources, not dirty oil. As we move towards renewables and zero-emission transportation choices, why would we risk the health and beauty of our oceans for oil we don’t need?
- NO BEES, NO FOOD: Environment Washington is calling on both Washington State and the EPA to declare a moratorium on the use of bee-killing neonics. Millions of bees are dying off, with alarming consequences for our environment and our food supply. We rely on bees to pollinate everything from almonds to strawberries to the hay used to feed dairy cows. What happens if the bees disappear? It’s simple: No bees, no food. Scientists point to several causes behind the problem, including global warming, habitat loss, parasites and a class of bee-killing insecticides known as neonicotinoids (or neonics).
Save the Orcas
Just 74 Southern Resident orcas remain today – the lowest number in 34 years. The population was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 2005; its population since then has further declined and there has not been a successful birth among the Southern Residents in nearly three years.
- Environment Washington supports the recommendations of the Orca Recovery Task Force, including efforts to restore Chinook salmon, their main source of food, to reduce vessel noise, and to eliminate contaminants in Puget Sound.
Get the Lead Out
Lead is a potent neurotoxin and it affects how our children learn, grow and behave. Our children’s drinking water is at risk wherever we have faucets, fountains, or plumbing made with lead. To ensure safe drinking water in schools and pre-schools, we support the following:
- Establishing an action level of 1 part per billion, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Replacing lead-bearing fountains, faucets, and other sources of contamination.
- Immediate shut-off of taps where water contains more lead than one part per billion, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Installing filters certified to remove lead on all outlets used for drinking or cooking at schools.
Transportation is the number one source of our state and our country’s carbon pollution, as well as contributing to air and water pollution. To slow global warming and reduce this pollution, we need to shift to electric cars. We’re calling for 100 percent of new cars and trucks to be electric by 2035.
- Environment Washington supports legislation that would increase electric vehicle adoption in the state by further incentivizing the purchase of electric vehicles, including restoring the state rebate and the passage of a Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) mandate. Transportation is the single largest source of climate emissions. Increasing the number of electric vehicles in Washington State will reduce harmful air, water and climate emissions, protecting public health and the environment.
- Environment Washington supports increasing state funding for electric school and transit buses in Washington. Buses play a key role in in our nation’s transportation system, carrying millions of children daily to and from school and moving millions of Americans each day around our cities. Buses reduce the number of individual cars on our roads, make our communities more livable and sustainable, and provide transportation options for people of all ages and abilities. Yet, the majority of buses remain dirty – burning fossil fuels like diesel that put the health of our children and communities at risk and contribute to global warming.
Protecting Public Health from Toxic Exposure
Our families are exposed to toxic chemicals that are linked to cancer, asthma, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, and other diseases in everyday consumer products. Toys and other everyday consumer products shouldn’t contain toxic chemicals that are linked to serious health effects.
- Environment Washington supports the Pollution Prevention for Our Future Act. This bill directs the Department of Ecology to take action on the largest sources of chemicals in consumer products that are polluting our homes and threatening orcas starting with these five classes of chemicals: nonstick PFAS, PCBs, toxic flame retardants, phthalates, and phenolic compounds.
The U.S. produces an immense amount of waste—we generate over 30 percent of the planet’s waste even though we make up just 4 percent of the population. That averages out to around seven pounds of material per American every single day. Only a third of our waste is recycled or composted while the vast majority is sent to landfills, incinerators, or the natural environment. Making matters worse, for decades, we exported recyclable and scrap materials to China, but recent trade restrictions have made it so the U.S. is stuck with landfilling millions of tons of recyclable materials previously handled by the Chinese. We need to take decisive steps to address our growing waste crisis, and to get us off the linear path of extraction, production, consumption then disposal. It’s time to move to a circular, zero-waste economy.
- Environment Washington supports legislation that will reduce food waste in order to fight hunger and reduce environmental impacts by establishing a goal to reduce food waste in half by 2030.
- Environment Washington opposes legislation that will restrict or limit what items municipal recycling programs can recycle. We should be encouraging municipal programs to recycle more, not less.
- Environment Washington supports product stewardship legislation.
Clean Water for Washington
Clean water is vital to our health and our environment, and here in Washington State, it’s integral to our quality of life. From the Columbia River to Lake Chelan to the Puget Sound, our waterways provide some of our most treasured natural resources, and drinking water sources. And public support for clean water is overwhelming.