I am proud to live in a state where the environmental community has such a strong, effective voice. And I am even prouder that our representatives in elected government make the environment a priority and are pushed to do better. Personally, I have made environmental stewardship a priority going door to door for WASH-PIRG and by volunteering time to clean up efforts like Duwamish Alive! on Earth Day. Professionally, I am also proud of the environmental work where I have had a hand at the King County Council, like preserving the aquatic reserve on Maury Island, working on the updates to the Shoreline Master Plan and preserving open space on Vashon Island. In Olympia, I will dedicate my leadership to not only supporting the environmental priorities our district, but also follow and lead in the footsteps of our district’s great environmental champions: Dow Constantine, Erik Poulsen and Sharon Nelson.
Our economic recovery and transportation crisis solutions are closely tied to our environmental stewardship. We simply cannot build more roads and expect there won’t be a significant, negative environmental impact. We cannot sustain long term, economic recovery unless we invest in the emerging technologies and industries of biofuels, biomass, green jobs and renewable energies. Our growth as a state is closely tied to strong environmental stewardship and reducing our dependence on cars and oil.
It is estimated that $20 billion of economic and recreational activity is dependent on the Puget Sound. But Puget Sound is polluted and its overall health is threatened. Every time it rains, thousands of pounds of toxic and noxious chemicals are washed into Puget Sound, killing off habitat and choking off the ecological balance of the Sound. The Puget Sound Partnership, through its Puget Sound Action Agenda, has a plan to restore the health of Puget Sound by 2020. It is the legislature’s responsibility to fully fund its share of these cleanup efforts and continue playing its role as a strong partner in the clean up efforts. Despite the economic downturn, now is not the time for the Legislature to pull back from its responsibility to fully fund the Agenda. If elected, I will push for more funding for these clean up efforts and other efforts that protect our environment statewide.
In addition to my transportation and jobs/economy plans which include strong environmental priorities, my plan for protecting the environment specifically includes:
- Dedicating Funds for Stormwater Cleanup. Stormwater cleanup is not only critical to the health of Puget Sound, but is also an issue as millions of gallons of petroleum, toxins and chemicals wash into our rivers, lakes and tributaries around the state. There are 7000 places where toxic stormwater runoff enters Puget Sound alone. This is a serious environmental hazard and requires the legislature’s fullest efforts. The Clean Water Act of 2010, which proposed a reasonable, permanent increase in the Hazardous Substances Tax, failed last session. This tax hasn’t been increased in 22 years and would amount to a modest .85% increase. Additionally, this is a ‘polluter pays’ tax and would help fund $100 million a year worth of stormwater infrastructure and runoff clean up efforts. Instead, the legislature put a ‘down payment’ on stormwater efforts by appropriating a one-time $50 million budget line item. We need dedicated funds to address this pollution that is choking off Puget Sound and killing the ecosystems in our waterways and tributaries across the state. I strongly support reintroducing and passage of the Clean Water Act.
- Cleaning Up the Duwamish. Due to the downturn in the economy and the legislature’s devastating cuts to the budget, the state’s toxic cleanup fund has been nearly depleted. In 2009, $180 million was diverted out of the toxic cleanup account and this year, another $81 million was stripped. The 5.5 miles of the Duwamish River were designated as a SuperFund site and have been on the list for cleanup since 2001. With cuts to the clean up fund and further cuts to the WA Department of Ecology, significant clean up efforts at the Duwamish have stalled and enforcement of current polluters is greatly hampered. PCBs are found in nearly all the salmon in the river and 42 other harmful chemicals have been found which cause health problems not only to the habitat in near the river, but also to the residents and small businesses in the area. I would work to restore cuts to the toxic clean up fund and to invest in the state’s Department of Ecology so they can monitor clean up efforts at the Duwamish.
- Funding Electric Car Charging Stations at Rest Areas. Electric cars are coming. Nissan already has an agreement with the City of Seattle to rollout electric cars to residents beginning in December of this year and 1500 are on pre-order from Seattle residents. Although the city of Seattle and Nissan have agreements on charging stations in and around the Greater Seattle area, folks who own electric cars will need a network of charging stations around the Puget Sound area and statewide for recreation and for work. In 2009, the legislature required state and local governments to implement the use of electric cars, but didn’t fund any infrastructure needs to prepare for the new technology. The legislature needs to invest in this clean energy alternative and provide easy charge locations for electric cars.
- Converting TransAlta from Dirty Coal to Clean Energy. The TransAlta coal plant in Centralia contributes to 12% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions alone. The company also has 370 union and nonunion employees and 300 contractors working at the plant. Closing this plant would hurt the local economy and hurt families who are dependent on the jobs the coal plant creates. Instead, the state could invest in turning this plant into a clean energy producer. The state could convert this dirty coal plant into a clean, renewable energy source, thereby reducing carbon emissions and toxic mercury significantly. The funding for this project could come from repealing the special sales tax exemption for coal production, for example, which totals about $4 million.