Clean fuels, drought resilience, and orcas: Where 2020 WA laws stand now

Some important environmental bills are on their way to the Governor’s desk to become law after the 2020 legislative session. | February 27, 2020

There are only 15 days left for the state legislature to enact laws that reduce plastic pollution, prepare communities for drought, lower climate-polluting emissions in transportation fuels, and protect orca and salmon habitats in 2020.

Good news! The majority of RE Sources’ top-priority bills have made it so far (February 19th was a key deadline for the legislature to pass bills out of their house of origin — i.e., if a bill started in the House, it needed to be voted and approved by the House). This is due in part to the over 1,800 messages that several hundred members of our community sent to their legislators asking them to take action in support of key environmental bills in the last several weeks. It’s not too late to help these important environmental bills get to the Governor’s desk and become law: join in with other advocates by signing up for our Legislative Action Team to receive actions to take via email in these pivotal final days.

Unfortunately, one of our top priorities, “Healthy Habitat, Healthy Orcas” (HB 2550) did not pass out of a House committee. But we’re not giving up and are looking at other ways to recover endangered orcas and restore salmon habitat. The next bill cut-off date is Friday, February 28th when bills need to move out of the opposite house policy committee.

Here’s where the other top-priority environmental bills stand (updated March 13th)

Moving = this bill could still pass if we continue to advocate for it. Dead = this bill failed to get enough support from legislators.

Drought resilience (HB 1622): Modernizing Washington’s drought statutes is important to effectively prepare for and respond to drought emergencies.  This bill will create tools and resources to help build long-term drought resiliency among water users and communities throughout the state, improve the state’s ability to effectively respond to drought in the short term, and codify the best practices identified in the updated 2018 Washington State Drought Contingency Plan. This bill passed the House and Senate!

Clean Fuels Standard (HB 1110): The Clean Fuels Standard is pointed at the greatest source of our emissions, offering the opportunity to transition our vehicle fleet to cleaner fuels, including electrifying transit, trucks, and cars. The current proposal is in line with the most ambitious similar program in California and would reduce approximately 6 million tons by 2035. This bill is dead.

Reusable Bag Act (SB 5323): Prohibits the use of thin single-use plastic carryout bags in Washington and builds on local ordinances already in place throughout the state.  As of August 2019, there are 32 jurisdictions — including Bellingham, that have instituted prohibitions on plastic bags. This bill passed the House and Senate!

Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy & Resilience (C-PACER) Financing (HB 2405): This legislation enables building owners to fund improvements in new and existing commercial, industrial, non-profit, and multi-family buildings that improve their long-term economic and environmental sustainability. This bill provides a new mechanism to allow building owners to invest in water and energy conservation improvements that are included in the financing of the building even when the building changes ownership. This bill passed the House and Senate!

Healthy Habitat, Healthy Orcas (HB 2550): The Southern Resident Orca Task Force wrapped up in November. Now it is time for the legislature to act on those recommendations to reduce the impacts of climate change and population growth on orcas, as well as determine how to keep the pressure on the state to continue prioritizing orca recovery. The most critical recommendation is for the state to move from a “no net loss” of habitat standard to one of “net ecological gain” in order to restore habitat from development impacts. This approach is needed in order to reverse the continued decline in salmon habitat in the Puget Sound region. This bill is dead.

Below are other good environmental bills we are supporting, along with their current status. Check out our bill tracker to get even more details.

  • Prohibiting suction dredge mining (HB 1261). This bill passed the House and Senate!
  • Legislation reforming the transaction of water rights (SB 6494 / HB 2603). These bills are dead.
  • Prohibiting out-of-basin water right transfers (HB 2866). This bill is dead.
  • Zero emission vehicle standards (SB 5811). This bill passed the House and Senate!
  • Vesting reform under the Growth Management Act (HB 1544)This bill is dead.
  • Sustainable Farms & Fields Act (SB 5947). This bill is dead.
  • Prohibiting water withdrawal for commercial bottled water production (SB 6278). This bill is dead.
  • Greenhouse Gas emission limits (HB 2311). This bill passed the House and Senate!
  • Eliminating styrofoam take-out containers, packing peanuts, and coolers (SB 6213). This bill is dead.
  • Concerning the replacement of shoreline armoring (SB 6147). This bill is dead.
  • Tackling climate change as a goal of the growth management act (HB 2427). This bill is dead.