2018 Legislative Session

The environmental community has big goals for 2018's legislative session. 

The state legislature started its session on January 8th, and they're working on some critical policies for non-native fish farming, climate change and carbon pricing, preventing oil spills, water availability, and more. Read on to learn about what we're asking our lawmakers to do, and what you can do to make sure they take action for Washington's people, economy, and environment.

Get more info on our blog post going over these clean water and clean energy bills in more detail!

Clean Energy priorities

Three years in a row, RE Sources' supporters spoke out in support of our state's growing solar power industry for legislation to extend Washington's solar incentives program.

Acting on climate change 

2018 is the year for meaningful climate action. Climate impacts have been felt across the state, from longer and more severe droughts impacting farmers, to warmer, rising, more acidic seas threatening coastal communities and livelihoods. Now is the time for our state to show national leadership. 

Elements of comprehensive climate action:
- Effectively reduce carbon pollution 
- Address the needs of impacted communities
- Invest in clean air and water, healthy forests, and the communities and workers who make our natural resource economy vibrant 

Read more on proposed climate change legislation on our blog. 

Clean Water priorities

Oil spill prevention 
(SB 6269)

Orcas, salmon, and our way of life in the Salish Sea are constantly at risk of a devastating oil spill, whether by vessel in our marine waters or by pipeline crossing our rivers. To make matters worse, the state Department of Ecology’s Oil Spills program is severely underfunded and may not be able to adequately respond to an oil spill, especially a tar sands oil spill containing diluted bitumen.

Stopping non-native Atlantic salmon (SB 6086.)

 August 2017, over 160,000 Atlantic Salmon from an open water net-pen operation managed by Cooke Aquaculture escaped due to a structural failure. This was a wake-up call to many in our community about the fact that these non-native Atlantic salmon are being cultivated in our marine waters in the Puget Sound and Salish Sea and the risks that they pose — from water pollution with the use of antibiotics and concentrated feces to disease outbreaks and competition with native salmon.

Protecting communities from toxic pollution (
SB 6422)

Last year, we engaged the Legislature in support HB 2182 which would stabilize funding for the state’s Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA), which helps clean up areas polluted by chemicals and toxics from decades of industry that are harmful to human and animal health.  This funding is put to use locally for the Bellingham Waterfront and the Blaine Marina cleanups, to name a couple examples. Unfortunately, funding for MTCA is often uncertain. Thankfully, a bill similar to last year’s HB 2182 has been introduced: SB 6422. We will continue to monitor this legislation.

Enough water for fish, farms, and people

A growing population and climate change put stresses on our finite water resources in the Northwest: an estimated 1,000 people are moving to the Puget Sound region each week. We support legislation that directs the Department of Ecology to assist counties on a watershed-by-watershed basis to determine how to allow rural development while protecting and enhancing stream levels through water-for-water mitigation.

Unfortunately, the Legislature passed a law (SB 6091) on January 18, 2018 addressing Hirst that we did not fully agree with. Whatcom County can now rely upon this new law to issue rural building permits to use new exempt wells with a 3,000 gallon per day limit per household while a watershed restoration plan is worked out locally. No metering is required for the new wells to verify whether they’re under the 3,000 gallon per day limit.

This effectively ignores the Supreme Court’s decision and further imperils senior water users access to their water as well as stream levels for salmon. 

Environmental Priorities Coalition

In 2018, our Clean Water program worked in collaboration with Washington Environmental Council's Environmental Priorities Coalition on legislation that would impact Whatcom County and the Salish Sea.

Putting a price on greenhouse gases.

Despite the fact that climate change impacts are already felt at here home, many in the fossil fuel industry are working to undo years of climate progress, especially at the federal level. That’s why the state of Washington must step up. The faster we act, the faster we can show what is possible. We need to charge major polluters for the harm they cause and reinvest those dollars for a better future.

Sustainable water management.
We’ve known for many years that the state’s water management system is broken. The environmental community seeks to pass legislation to implement the law and provide more certainty for instream and out-of-stream uses. Water legislation must have three elements: (Karlee's language here)

Oil spill prevention.
Washington communities and waterways face many oil spill risks from pipelines, trains, and vessels. These risks continue to grow as the state receives newer oils that sink and are difficult to cleanup. Unfortunately, the state of Washington has fallen behind in applying prevention measures to guard against oil spills. The Oil Spill Prevention Act makes funding for state oversight more fair and reliable, and ensures that the state will fully implement existing marine protections. This bill is an important and overdue step forward for Washington.

Action for toxic-free food packaging.
The widespread use of toxic nonstick PFAS chemicals in many consumer products and firefighting foam is raising serious health and environmental concerns in the state of Washington. Used in food packages like microwave popcorn and fast food or bakery wrappers, these toxic nonstick chemicals move from the packaging, to the food, and then into our bodies with each bite. PFAS chemicals also pollute the environment when the food packaging is landfilled or composted and spread on the ground. We should not have to worry about these harmful chemicals unnecessarily contaminating our food or our environment when safer alternatives are available. The Healthy Food Packaging Act is a commonsense solution to this problem.

About the EPC

The Environmental Priorities Coalition is made up of more than 20 statewide organizations working to safeguard our environment and the health of our communities in the legislature. For the 2018 legislative session, we have adopted four priorities essential for healthy communities and a thriving environment.

In addition to these four priorities, the Coalition is committed to making urgently needed progress on addressing climate change in 2018 through a range of policy bills from promoting efficient and healthy buildings to electrifying our transportation system to diversifying our clean energy sources. These policies will create jobs, reduce harmful pollution, and help Washington compete in a global clean energy economy.