October 11, 2018

Broad coalition to advance policies for clean energy, orca recovery, oil spill prevention, and plastic pollution

Seattle, WA – The Environmental Priorities Coalition announced adoption of four priorities for the 2019 Washington State Legislature today at the Washington Conservation Voters (WCV) Breakfast of Champions. The annual event brings together WCV’s community of 750+ business and community leaders, elected officials, and others in support of making environmental progress.

“Washington State has long been recognized for finding innovative solutions to our most pressing environmental problems, and leadership at the state and local level is needed now more than ever,” said Joan Crooks, CEO of Washington Conservation Voters. “With the will of Washington voters behind us, we are optimistic the 2019 legislative session will offer our best opportunity in recent memory to make landmark progress on clean energy, clean water, and protection of Washington’s beloved salmon and orcas.”

Washington Conservation Voters also recognized Gael Tarleton, Representative from Washington’s 36th District (Seattle) as their 2018 Legislator of the Year at today’s breakfast. “Rep. Tarleton is the House’s strongest advocate for clean energy and we look forward to working with her in 2019 to pass the 100% clean energy standard,” said President of Washington Conservation Voters, Shannon Murphy.

The 2019 Environmental Priorities are:

100% Clean Energy: Washington State is uniquely positioned to achieve a fossil free, clean electricity grid. We have done the hard work to ensure coal-fired power plants will be retired over the next 8 years. Now we need to ensure that power is replaced with clean energy to avoid becoming more dependent on other dirty fuels like fracked gas. Building off the strong work and partnerships forged through Initiative 1631, reaching 100% Clean Energy is a complementary and necessary policy to meet our state’s climate goals and power our economy with clean and affordable electricity.

Orca Emergency Response: Southern resident killer whales (orcas) are on the brink of extinction and need an all-hands-on-deck commitment to action. At a minimum, we need new protections that address their lack of food and impacts from noise and pollution. The legislature must increase Chinook salmon and forage fish they eat through habitat protection and restoration; immediately protect orcas by establishing slow-go zones around orcas and a permit system for commercial whale watching; and prevent toxic pollution by authorizing the state to replace current-use products with safer alternatives.

Oil Spill Prevention: Washington State is experiencing dramatic changes in the movement and type of crude oil traveling through our state via rail, pipelines, and barges. An increasing share is heavy crude oil that sinks when spilled threatening local economies, the survival of the Southern Resident Orcas, and treaty fishing rights across the Salish Sea. An Oil Spill Prevention priority will require tug escorts on oil laden vessels and a San Juan Islands rescue tug while strengthening state protections against offshore drilling.

Reducing Plastic Pollution: Our local waterways, ocean, and recycling systems are overloaded with plastic pollution. Thin plastic bags that are used for just a few minutes and then thrown away pose a particular problem. Only 6% ever get recycled. Single use bags blow into our waterways and the ocean where they clog the stomachs of wildlife. They also clog recycling equipment where they are costly to remove 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 help Washington address a growing recycling crisis.

For more information contact:
Darcy Nonemacher, darcy@wcvoters.org, 206-817-2402
Mark Glyde, mrglyde@gmail.com, 206-227-4346