An abruptly canceled meeting, a moonlighting state senator and the nascent Trump administration all had something to do with many environmental and clean-energy priorities becoming casualties before the Washington Legislature could even reach the halfway mark in its 2017 session. Other priorities soldier on, but the road ahead is uphill.
An October Washington Supreme Court decision found that many counties had over-allocated their available water. Now thousands of rural homeowners are stuck in limbo as counties grapple with implementing the decision and turn to the Legislature for help.
As we’ve done for the last two years, InvestigateWest is again crowdfunding to support our 2017 Washington Statehouse Environmental News Project, offering in-depth coverage of the most critical environmental issues facing the Washington Legislature. If you donate today your gift will be doubled or tripled. Unlike Congress, our state legislature is debating environmental policies that may actually become law. Energy and a carbon tax. Toxics.
Should fighting climate change translate into spending more on education? That’s what Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is advocating. Wrangling over this and related proposals to shore up longstanding education-funding shortages will likely overshadow most environmental issues in the 105-day legislative session that got under way this week. But builders, environmentalists, legislators and others in the environmental arena say that even with the education-funding debate taking center stage, they will try to move forward on a slew of fronts. Subjects likely to come up include growth management, water rights, Puget Sound restoration and cleanup of toxic waste sites.
Groups from the Olympic Peninsula to Spokane and Bellingham to the Tri-Cities are suddenly faced with large fractions of their budgets disappearing – money largely dedicated to helping citizens understand toxic-waste cleanups and how to control pollution.
At its heart, a dispute about how important it is with falling revenues to clean up previously polluted sites versus preventing new pollution, and what citizens really meant when they voted in 1988 for the Model Toxics Control Act.