Farming to help the climate: Two bills in Olympia promote “regenerative agriculture”

Bills in the Washington Legislature would help scientists learn about storing carbon in agricultural soils, as well as letting farmers invest in GPS-guided tractors and climate-friendly cattle feed. While both bills have bi-partisan support and reflect recognition that farm soil can play a key role in slowing the rise of greenhouse gases, but some fear that it won’t benefit all farmers.

Would you like forks with that? Legislation aims to end disposable plasticware in WA

Legislation being considered in the Washington Legislature phase in a ban on plastic cutlery and other food-service products accompanying ready-to-eat food, effectively making the state’s takeout industry go compostable-only. Associated fees would fund the upgrade of state facilities to process the compostable utensils and containers. Environmentalists see the legislation as a step in the right direction, but grocery, restaurant and chemical industries feel that existing state taxes on food-service items should pay for the upgrades.

Legislature eyes ways to control speculators buying Washington water rights

Several upcoming bills in the Washington Legislature aim to take on the state’s convoluted water rights system, which balances two conflicting positions – that water is a public resource stewarded by the state, and that water rights are private property. While legislators want to cut out water speculators who are looking to make a profit on water, farmers, builders and environmental stewardship organizations fear that regulations could impede community water banks.

Senator: To help orcas and salmon, seawalls should be a last resort

Newly proposed legislation in the Washington Legislature would require waterfront homeowners along Puget Sound’s 2,500-mile shoreline to consider fish-friendly fixes when replacing concrete seawalls. Proponents believe it’s the best opportunity to soften the Sound’s shores and jumpstart populations of forage fish that feed juvenile Chinook salmon, the preferred food of endangered orcas. The building lobby and others aren’t convinced.

County faces tough choice on lease for company with checkered environmental past

Ardagh Group, a multinational glass-recycling firm in south Seattle that has a checkered environmental past, is looking to renew its lease on 17 acres along the Duwamish River. The King County Council faces a tough decision as it weighs the company’s environmental history against its role as a major employer in the region, as well as King County’s only glass waste recycler.

Legislature is delivering on climate protection just in time for Inslee’s presidential bid

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.