~ Lon Dickerson, member of Sacred Earth Matters
It’s virtually impossible to save the earth as we know it for our grandchildren because we’ve inflicted so much damage. It’s probably too late to stop the melting of arctic ice, for instance, and we don’t know how to refreeze the water. But, it was a GREAT legislative session in Olympia in terms of slowing the destruction of our environment.
There was enormous opposition from the oil industry and business organizations, and most of the climate change bills passed on party line votes. The Governor was a strong advocate, as were a united array of environmental groups and churches. UCC’s Jim Antal (Climate Church, Climate World) encouraged our congregation in February to be aggressive advocates in climate change battles. He’d be happy that 93 people joined with 36 Sacred Earth Matters people (total 129) to participate in SEM’s “Legislative Priority of the Week” program and actively lobbied our state legislators. Thank you; thank you; thank you to each and every one of you!
Six of Sacred Earth Matters’ legislative priorities were approved along with six additional environmental bills. The biggest win was a new statute which prohibits electric utilities from selling electricity generated by coal by Dec 31, 2025, and natural gas by 2030 in Washington.
Our victories include:
- SB 5116: 100% Carbon-Free Electricity — Sacred Earth’s priority #1
- HB 1112: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Hydrofluorocarbons — Sacred Earth’s priority #3
- HB 1257: Clean Buildings for Washington Act — Sacred Earth’s priority #4
- HB 1579: Orca Whales – Habitat & Forage Fish — Sacred Earth’s priority #7
- SB 5577: Orca Whales – Vessel Noise & Vibrations — Sacred Earth’s priority #8
- HB 1578: Orca Whales – Oil Tankers — Sacred Earth’s priority #9
SB 5135 — Reduces public & environmental exposure to hazardous & toxic chemicals by limiting their inclusion in consumer products – easier than cleaning up a polluted environment for Orca whales
HB 1444 — Establishes new state minimum efficiency & testing standards for appliances; thereby increases energy efficiencies (incl. electric water heaters manufactured after Jan 1, 2021)
SB 5397 — Requires study on management & disposal of plastic packaging with recommendations to legislature by Oct 31 2020; implementation by legislature by Jan 1, 2022 – fosters plastic recycling
SB 5579 — Prohibits loading, unloading & storage of any crude oil received in Washington by rail with a vapor pressure greater than 9 pounds per square inch – e.g. crude oil from the Bakken region in ND
SB 5588 — Authorizes public utility districts to produce, distribute, use & sell renewable hydrogen (biodiesel, ethanol & ethanol blend fuels previously authorized)
SB 5145 — Bans the use of hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas (not currently done in WA)
The legislature failed to pass other SEM priority bills that had been approved in the originating house, including 1) Clean Transportation Fuels, 2) Clean Car Standards, 3) Plastic Bags, and 4) Plastic Straws. 43% of Washington’s carbon emissions come from the cars, trucks, and motorcycles we drive and commercial vehicles. But the oil industry was able to block in the Senate the passage of a bill to require continuous reductions in carbon pollution from gasoline and other transportation fuels. It helped kill in the House a bill with California’s zero emission vehicle standard. The wood pulp/paper industry helped block the plastic bags bill in the House.
Another priority bill to create a task force to recommend strategies for state agencies to eliminate environmental health disparities that impact low-income communities also died in the House.
Sacred Earth Matters will be supporting these bills in Washington’s 2020 legislative session. Please join our email list (moc.oohay@nosrekcid_nol) and help us get them passed along with other climate change remedies at the local, state, and national levels.