Undocumented workers, especially in the transportation, construction and service industries, have been hit hard by the coronavirus but have been left out of stimulus efforts. This is despite paying more than $300 million in state and local taxes in Washington State, and many of their employers contributing to the unemployment relief fund. While some cities and states have launched their own relief efforts, there has been pushback on social media and Fox News commentators have demanded to know why undocumented workers should receive taxpayer help.
With nearly triple the usual number of wildfires this year, Washington and Oregon are set to have the worst summer fire forecasts in the nation. And it’s not the only one. As a result of COVID-19, volunteer firefighting numbers are down and those who did sign up face increased vulnerability to the virus. The pandemic has curtailed preventative measures, leading agencies across the country to plan for fast, low-headcount efforts to fight fires.
As part of the “Covering Your Climate: The Emerald Corridor” special report, we’ve collected a wide range of resources to help reporters track down climate stories throughout the Pacific Northwest. You’ll find an array of government, academic and NGO links for Oregon, including Portland; Washington, including Seattle; and British Columbia, including Vancouver, as well as from regional, national and international resources.
With Washington forcing a record number of traumatized foster youth into overnight hotel stays that further destabilize them — at a tremendous cost to taxpayers — lawmakers in Olympia have sent the governor a budget that seems unlikely to solve the problem. Legislators last week approved nearly $16 million in new funding to try to stem the hotel-overnight crisis. The new money has the potential to restore 26 spots for foster youth lost earlier this year at one Seattle facility, Ryther, and create perhaps more than 70 new ones. Yet, it might not be enough to fix the system: The department racked up more than 1,500 hotel overnights for almost 300 foster children in the most recent year measured, ending in August 2019. Ryther, a children’s mental-health agency, offers an example of how lawmakers’ efforts may come up short.
The latest entry in our ongoing “Covering Your Climate: The Emerald Corridor” special report looks at what the Pacific Northwest is doing to mitigate climate change, including reducing carbon emissions, limiting sprawl and congestion, pushing energy efficiency and pursuing carbon sequestration. Read the new tipsheet, plus check out our earlier report on climate impacts and our opening backgrounder.
A budget proposal in the Washington House of Representatives would replace the state’s current requirement that construction cause “no net loss” to habitat. Instead, future building projects would be held to a higher standard of “net ecological gain”; supporters laud it for leaving the environment better off. However, opponents, including the building industry and local governments, are concerned that this shift could negatively impact development and worsen the housing shortage in Washington state.
In Part Two of our ongoing “Covering Your Climate: The Emerald Corridor” special report for journalists, we take a look at the impacts of climate change on the Pacific Northwest region — and how best to cover them. Our A-to-Z Guide explores 26 neglected angles and stories, plus resource links to get you started.
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.
As the Pacific Northwest faces serious impacts from climate change, and moves to respond, the Society of Environmental Journalists provides a special in-depth report on how journalists can tell the unfolding story. The “Covering Your Climate: The Emerald Corridor” project, which launches this week with an extensive issue backgrounder, to be followed soon by tipsheets and a toolbox listing sources, documents and other material helpful to journalists of all beats covering climate issues.