Big Oil is fighting proposed higher taxes meant to speed cleanups of toxic waste sites in Seattle’s Duwamish River and Gas Works Park, Bellingham Bay, Tacoma, Grays Harbor and landfills around Washington. Will Washington legislators pass SB 5993 anyway?
Democratic lawmakers are finding success in moving a raft of clean-energy bills through the Washington Legislature. The sweeping bills would make Washington the fourth state to require a phaseout of fossil-fueled electricity, mandate energy overhauls for larger, old buildings, and more. The fate of three lesser bills to protect the climate is less certain.
Washington legislators came into their 2019 session brimming with proposals to help rescue Puget Sound’s imperiled orcas. But now they have dropped one of the most important – and controversial – ideas: A three-year moratorium on commercial whale watching.
A bill in the Washington Legislature (HB1579) would give state Fish and Wildlife agents far more power to fight armoring of Puget Sound seashore by seawalls and other environmental insults along the shoreline.
Puget Sound’s beloved orcas are at risk of extinction and scientists say one key step to rescuing them is boosting oceangoing runs of chinook salmon, the biggest, fattest and most nutritious kind of salmon and the killer whales’ main food source. But legislators seeking to open up more than 1,000 miles of prime inland spawning areas that are currently blocked to the fish by culverts are struggling to find a funding source. What is blocking all those fish? Culverts. These are the pipes and tunnels that pass under roads throughout the state, allowing water to flow downstream. It turns out that many old highway projects in the state were poorly engineered where they intersect with salmon-bearing streams and as a result can block the fish in a variety of ways.
Washington legislators are moving to reshape the state’s electricity grid in a dramatic way that favors renewable energy over the next three decades, and environmentalists are rejoicing that climate change is finally a top legislative priority. But is reducing Washingtonians’ contributions to global warming achievable without boosting power rates too high at privately owned utilities? Those are the utilities that rely the most on natural gas and other fossil fuels, and they help meet energy needs at about half of Washington households. Private utilities and Republican lawmakers are predicting cost increases or even “brownouts,” and urging a go-slow approach.
After a report by a government-appointed watchdog group found Washington foster kids sent to a group home in Iowa were mistreated, InvestigateWest documents how dozens of other Washington foster kids remain at group homes in South Carolina, Wyoming and Michigan that also appear to have mistreated children, according to reports from oversight agencies in other states.
The Washington Legislature is considering whether to require use of more climate-friendly motor vehicle fuels. Although Washington collects and processes biodiesel – an alternative fuel made partially of vegetable oil or animal fats that has a distinctly lower carbon impact than traditional diesel – most of this renewable resource is shipped out of state because Oregon, California, and British Columbia have all passed legislation requiring progressive reductions in the amount of fossil fuel allowed in gasoline and diesel.
A sweeping array of Washington legislative proposals to counter climate change have their best chance to pass into law in 2019 than at any time in recent years. But it won’t be easy for majority Democrats and Gov. Jay Inslee to get all they want in the 105-day session that began last week. InvestigateWest outlines current issues on the docket, including measures to help critically endangered orcas and salmon and green-oriented revisions for housing codes.
If you wanted to know how much Value Village is giving to charity from your donations, look no further than a graphic circulated on social media by the Washington Attorney General’s office. It reveals that the fancy piece of furniture you gave to the store’s donation center could be worth as little as 2 cents to the charity. That reality is far from the image the Bellevue-based chain has promoted, according to a lawsuit filed by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. He accuses the nation’s largest for-profit thrift-store chain of misrepresenting to the public the charitable benefits of their donations and purchases. In response to the attorney general’s lawsuit, Value Village has claimed that what it tells its donors and customers is covered under the free-speech protections of the First Amendment, citing U.S. Supreme Court rulings that charitable fundraising is a form of free speech.