As the dust settles after the election, we are already working hard on what comes next. The state legislative session begins on January 14, 2019. We are excited to see a large and passionate class of environmental champions heading to Olympia.
For over 15 years, WEC and our partners in the Environmental Priorities Coalition have selected legislative priorities to work on together. For the 2019 session, we have selected the following priorities:
- 100% Clean Energy: Acting on climate is urgent, and Washington state is uniquely positioned to achieve a fossil free, clean electricity grid. Electricity is the second largest source of climate pollution in Washington, responsible for nearly a fifth of our annual emissions. We can achieve a 100% Clean Energy system to power our economy with clean and affordable electricity and take a significant step towards meeting our climate goals.
- Orca Emergency Response: Southern resident orca whales are on the brink of extinction and need an all-hands-on-deck commitment to action. The legislature needs to take action to accelerate salmon recovery, heal Puget Sound habitat, and prevent toxic pollution to ensure enough healthy food to sustain our resident orcas. We also need to prohibit boats from harassing orcas, which prevents them from eating enough food to stay healthy.
- Oil Spill Prevention: Washington currently faces significant risks from oils spills due to dramatic changes in the movement and type of crude oil traveling through our state via rail, pipelines, and vessels. An increasing share is heavy crude oil that sinks when spilled, threatening local economies, the survival of resident orcas, and treaty fishing rights across the Salish Sea. Measures to prevent oil spills must be passed to protect our communities now.
- 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 and only 6% ever get recycled. The Reusable Bag Act would eliminate thin carry-home plastic bags at all retail establishments and help our state address a growing recycling crisis.
Contact your legislators and urge them to support the 2019 environmental community priorities.
These four priorities are great places to start, but of course more is needed to make progress. Look for more information ahead of legislative session on critical bills to protect our environment for all – from forest management, to Puget Sound recovery, to bold climate action.
Working together, we know we can make real progress this coming year and push back against the influence of Big Oil. We find hope in having strong leadership at the state level, and the time for action is now!