Jefferson County Commissioner John Austin decides against third run for seat – PDN and others

Jefferson County Commissioner John Austin has decided not to run for a third 4 year term. I have appreciated his strong stand on environmental issues over the last years, and will miss him on the Commission Board. He has been a very solid vote for environmental protection, health care for all county residents, and a man willing to deliberate over a position.  Politics is about trying to make everyone feel like they are being considered, and some in this county have not felt that way over the last few years, but that wasn’t for a lack of trying by John. Good luck John in all your future travels. I thank you for your friendship and consultations.

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140318/NEWS/303189976/jefferson-county-commissioner-john-austin-decides-against-third-run#.UykC-RAYgoA.twitter

Sound Action expands staff and drives agenda in Olympia

Sound Action, the relative newcomer to the Salish Sea environmental action scene, continues to expand. Diane Tilstra  joined the team to help  expand fundraising and capacity. Diane is passionate about Puget Sound and has a long history of helping organizations thrive. She spent many years as the development director at People for Puget Sound and was a liaison to the Alliance for Puget Sound Shorelines, which worked to find establish and private funding for common environmental projects around Puget Sound shorelines. Diane also serves as a board member for the Seabury School in Tacoma and volunteers with the National Alliance to End Veteran Suicide. I worked with Diane at People For Puget Sound and can attest that she is a great asset to have brought on to S.A. They are rapidly becoming the new organization that is actually challenging the status quo around the Salish Sea. Lord knows it needs it. Far too many endless meetings and far too little action.

Here’s a wrap up from Sound Action on their Olympia efforts. Given the general ‘do nothing’ nature of this last session, this is good work for such a small organization like theirs.

  • We are happy to say that the derelict vessel removal bill we supported, which created new tools for the derelict vessel program an DNR, passed with flying colors. This program helps to ensure habitat protection by allowing DNR to remove derelict and abandoned vessels from Puget Sound, which can pollute nearshore and marine waters with fuel and oil spills.
  • We also worked to defend Puget Sound from the impacts that would arise as a result of a bill related to floating homes. This bill initially proposed to amend the Shorelines Management Act in ways that expanded the definition of water-dependent, setting a dangerous precedent and opening the door to many more over-water structures in the nearshore. While the bill itself pass, the final legislation did not include this damaging language we opposed and the general integrity of the Shoreline Management Act was supported.
  • The forage fish bill we told you about last month unfortunately died before getting a floor vote. But, there was good progress in helping to spotlight forage fish issues in the legislature and laying  groundwork for next year.

Representative Van De Wege signs onto bill to ban & label GMO Salmon

Republican State Representative Condotta (R) co-sponsored  by Representative Van de Wege, have put forward bill HB 2143,  to ban genetically modified salmon in the State. This would ban net pen operations in state waters from farming any genetically modified salmon. It does not ban raising them in upland closed container sites. Additionally it calls for identification of farmed GMO fish vs. commercially caught salmon. Background on this is that Washington was the first state in the country, in 1993,  to make it a law to label salmon as wild or farmed. It was heavily opposed by the same industry coalition back then. But it passed. We led the way in salmon labeling, and the arguments are again being made that labeling and banning of these fish should be a Federal issue, not a State issue. They also say it will cause consumer confusion. I  personally don’t know many consumers who are confused as to wild vs. farmed salmon labels. In fact, it seems to have spurred purchase of wild salmon, as consumers know that they are getting what they want, as opposed to not knowing if it is or isn’t. That confusion is more likely to lead to other choices of protein.

The reasons for this bill that have been put forward is to codify the rules on avoiding cross contamination on GMO salmon and to add a simple label on GMO fish when they are sold in Washington State stores.

At the January 17th Public Hearing, testimony was hot and heavy. Industry spokespeople were out in force to attempt to stop the bill. Also citizen activists testified in favor of it. Industry is attempting to muddy the waters by claiming that this will ban research and development of genetic fish, some of which could be hampering work on human disease development. To be clear, the bill does not ban that research. It bans farming GMO salmon in State Waters. That is defined as navigable waters in the state. The Sound, Strait, Outer Coasts and freshwater rivers and streams are usually what is meant by that term. 

Some of the testimony (pardon me if the names are spelled wrong, they were not always clearly identifiable):

A panel opposed to the bill showed up to testify:

Alan Cook of Icicle Seafoods. They opposed  the bill claiming that GMO salmon are already banned in State waters.

John Dentler Director of Troutlodge. They are the oldest company in aquaculture in America. They  grow Sable Fish (Black Cod) and Shellfish. He claimed they have no plans on rearing GMO salmon and trout.  They want to  carve out an exemption  specifically for triploid (sterile) fish in the bill. Labeling aspect is troubling to them. If we specifically label to this State, they are faced with labeling requirements. National and State environmental policy acts handle these issues, he said.

John Bialka Pacific Aquaculture on the Columbia. They produce triploid trout for restaurant business. Not interested in raising GMO salmon. Opposed the bill.

Also in opposition to the bill.

  • Dan Swecker ex-salmon farmer and ED Washington Salmon Growers Assoc.
  • JIm Jesernig ofWashington Association of Wheat Growers -
  • Tom Davis Farm Bureau
  • Heather Hansen – Friends of Farms and Forest.  “True intent is to stigmatize genetically modified food”
  • NW Grocery Association
  • James Curry NW Food Processors Assoc. – Opposed to the bill.
  • Dan Coin – Biotechnology Industry Association – Opposed.

Showing up in favor of the bill

  • The Yakima Nation
  • Doug Milholland of Port Townsend. He brought up Salmon Confidential and the work going on in British Columbia against farmed and GMO salmon.
  • Senator Marilyn Chase 32nd district (D)  testified in favor of the bill.
  • Ann Mossmiss – Ex-Alaska Fisherman. Food and Society Policy Fellow Institute of Agriculture and Trade Culture. Very concerned about the new genetically modfied  National Academy of Scientists are very skeptical and concerned on this. She was a very convincing speaker with a great deal of background on the subject.

The bill will encounter stiff opposition in the House and Senate,if it even passes out of committee. I highly recommend that any of you wanting to weigh in on this bill do so now. Send emails to Representative Kevin Van De Wege’s office.

Watch the whole testimony here:

http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwplayer&eventID=2014010063

The Bill itself:

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2013-14/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/2143.pdf

Bill Analysis:
http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwplayer&eventID=2014010063

Republican Majority in State Senate Grows by One – Tacoma News Tribune

This will make things harder to get any environmental legislation done. Another year likely to have very little of substance accomplished.

A new alignment in the Washington state Senate calls for some new math.

“The difference between 25 and 26 isn’t one,” Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom said Thursday. “It’s exponential.”

Read the whole story at

 

Inslee picks salmon recovery coordinator- The Olympian

The Governor moves to fill position on Salmon Recovery Board. 

A Littlerock man has been selected to lead Gov. Jay Inslee’s Salmon Recovery Office, which coordinates regional efforts to return salmon from the brink of extinction. Brian Abbott, the governor’s appointee, joined the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office in 2000 and now leads the salmon recovery grant section. Before that, he was the district manager for the Pierce Conservation District, where he created and coordinated the district’s salmon recovery programs. He also served as vice president and president of the nonprofit South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group. 

Read the whole story here…

http://www.theolympian.com/2013/07/20/2630331/inslee-picks-salmon-recovery-coordinator.html

Legislature approves several Puget Sound priority bills

The fact that what did get put forward in the legislature this year did get passed is good news. Other bills that were important died in committee, some with very little help from even their sponsors (such as the bill allowing the banning of net pens that was sponsored by Representative Kevin Van De Wege and lightly supported by him). However, the rubber will meet the road in Olympia, this week and next, as the budget tries to get through. All these bills’ funding is stalled in the Senate, which, with a small Republican majority, is blocking a final budget. If you are so inclined, call your Representatives and Senator and tell them to get this done.  Kudos to NGO’s such as Washington Environmental Coalition, Puget Soundkeepers, Audubon, and companies such as Taylor Shellfish, who have stepped into a leadership role fighting Ocean Acidification, along with  many others who championed these bills.
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Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law all of the Puget Sound priority bills. Most recently, partners celebrated the signing of bills that prevent derelict vessels (ESHB 1245), prevent aquatic invasive species (SB 5702), strengthen the management of our coastal resources and protect Washington waters from the effects of ocean acidification (SB 5603). Attention remains on the budget, where little progress is visible toward bridging the significant impasse between the House and Senate.

WTF – State passes on setting fish consumption rates – Politics trumps health

I sometimes get asked to become a member of political parties. This is an excellent example of why I don’t. Environmental activism is not about punting on issues important to the public. Once again, not sure why the Puget Sound Partnership did not step up and take a leadership role on this, rather than letting Ecology put the issue on the back burner. Leadership is needed, and this is not what it looks like.

A dispute over how much seafood people eat in Washington — and what it means for the state’s environmental regulations — will have to wait for the administration of a Gov. Jay Inslee or a Gov. Rob McKenna. Fish-consumption rates are more controversial than they sound, because of their implications for how much pollution industrial and municipal plants are allowed to discharge into lakes, rivers and Puget Sound… Jordan Schrader reports.

http://india.nydailynews.com/newsarticle/74ea92de9deeb3d9cf61d03976716904/state-passes-on-setting-fish-consumption-rates

Washington Conservation Corps hiring 245 young adults for projects around the state

A good use of our tax dollars. Thanks to the legislators who supported us, including ours in Jefferson and Clallam County. Let’s support our teens and young adults in finding work to do, outside and working to restore our habitats.
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Washington Conservation Corps hiring 245 young adults for projects around the state

OLYMPIA – The state Department of Ecology’s Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) is seeking 245 young adults, including military service veterans, between 18 and 25 to for on-the-ground projects in 16 counties across the state.

For the 2011-2012 service year, Ecology will hire 150 WCC AmeriCorps members using a $2 million AmeriCorps grant from the Washington State Commission for National and Community Service. AmeriCorps Education Awards received through the Corps Network, a national service partner, will support the remaining positions.

WCC’s AmeriCorps members sign on for a year of service that starts in October 2011 and ends September 2012. Ecology WCC members work on environmental and community service projects and disaster response.

Members earn $8.67 an hour and receive a $5,550 AmeriCorps education award upon completing their service year. The award may be used for student loans or future tuition expenses.

The WCC was created in 1983 and has provided jobs and work training for about 1,600 young adults. In 1994, WCC started received federal AmeriCorps funding, allowing crews to carry out on-the-ground projects across the state. Local communities rely on WCC to complete environmental projects by forming cost-share agreements with Ecology.

Since 1994, WCC crews have:

Planted more than 7.5 million native trees and shrubs.
Improved or restored 15,800 acres of new habitat for fish and wildlife.
Constructed or repaired nearly 3,000 miles of trails and boardwalks – enough to cover the distance between Seattle and Boston.
Built almost 2 million feet of fencing for agricultural landowners to help keep animals out of creeks and rivers.
Opened about 240 miles of habitat in salmon-bearing streams.
Provided 133,500 hours of emergency response service to communities in need.
Recruited and managed more than 65,000 community volunteers working on environmental projects.
Taught environmental classes for some 191,000 students.

When WCC members are not working directly with local organizations, they are called upon for disaster response. In 2011, WCC crews assisted with emergency response efforts in Washington, including flood response in Ellensburg and shelter operations after the White Swan fire near Yakima. As part of the interstate compact associated with the federal funding, crews also worked to help communities in Alabama and Missouri that suffered extensive tornado damage earlier this spring.

“In a tight economy, the WCC is making a critical difference for our young adults, our communities and environment,” said Nick Mott who oversees WCC activities across the state. “By providing practical job experience and critical professional training, more than half of our members continue on to full-time employment or go on to further their education.”

Last year, Ecology used federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to add 10 new WCC crews, employing 50 young adults. The remaining recovery act funding expires in 2012.

In 2011, the Washington Legislature created the WCC “Puget Sound Corps” as a partnership of Ecology and the state Department of Natural Resources. The new legislation means new opportunities for WCC crews, including veterans. The Puget Sound Corps will support the Puget Sound Partnership’s Action Agenda to restore, protect and preserve the Sound by 2020, Mott said. The official rollout of the WCC Puget Sound Corps will occur this fall.

State Supreme Court affirms Ecology approval authority for shoreline master programs

As assumed, the SMP process is legal. The lawyer that convinced these guys to do take this case forward must have been laughing to the bank. A cursory read of the laws that the SMP is based on clearly shows what the court *unanimously* affirmed. Their argument about tax law shows how little they understood of the process or perhaps that they were willing to pay a lawyer to grasp at straws.
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State Supreme Court affirms Ecology approval authority for shoreline master programs

OLYMPIA – The Washington Supreme Court has unanimously affirmed that the state, not local governments, has final approval authority for shoreline management plans and regulations.

The case was brought before the high court by Citizens for Rational Shoreline Planning, Ronald Jepson and the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County against the Department of Ecology (Ecology) and Whatcom County.

The lawsuit was an attempt to broadly invalidate key protections in Whatcom County’s state-approved shoreline planning and development regulations, also called a shoreline master program. Ecology approved the county’s shoreline program in 2008.

The plaintiffs asserted that because Whatcom County had developed its proposed shoreline master program at the local level, final approval of the county’s updated shoreline program was a local decision.

They claimed some of the requirements in Whatcom County’s shoreline program would violate state tax law generally prohibiting local governments from imposing certain taxes or fees in exchange for development rights.

The 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act was passed to help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses, and protect the public’s right to public lands and waters.

“The court’s decision clarifies that the collaborative process Ecology and local governments use to manage our shoreline areas is fair, transparent and flexible,” said Ecology Deputy Director Polly Zehm. “We all have a stake in protecting our treasured shoreline resources for ourselves as well as our children and future generations. Our shorelines make Washington a great place to live.”

Under the law, local governments and Ecology work cooperatively on shoreline master programs.

The Shoreline Management Act gives local governments flexibility to tailor their shoreline programs to help respond to local conditions and needs – while fulfilling the statewide vision for shoreline development, protection and uses.

However, the court’s decision recognizes that under state law Ecology is charged with final review and approval authority to ensure each shoreline master program meets state law.

Ecology must also ensure that state requirements negotiated in 2003 among 58 different parties including business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups and local governments are being met.

Once Ecology approves a local shoreline master program, the department will help defend the decision against legal challenges.

The plaintiffs’ case had previously been dismissed by the Skagit County Superior Court which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court decision affirmed the appellate court.

Lobby Day February 15th in Olympia! Register now

This year promises to be a tough year in Olympia for the environment and for every other important issue. That does not mean we should sit it out on the sidelines till things get better. It’s more important than ever for the voices of concerned citizens to be heard on the key environmental issues facing our state.

“Lawmakers need to hear from us. They hear from lobbyists all the time, people who have a ton of money to spend to influence decisions. We only have people. Turning out a big group for Environmental Lobby Day lets legislators know people want environmental protection”.

- Jessie Dye, environmental advocate for Earth Ministry

To get a taste of the day check out this video from last year’s Environmental Lobby Day.

For your convenience, we are offering bus transportation from Vancouver, Olympic Peninsula (Port Townsend/Silverdale/, Central Sound (Seattle/Bellevue), and North Sound (Bellingham/Mt. Vernon/Everett) to Olympia. And back home.

It is time to be heard!

WHEN: Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 from 8:45 am- 6:00 pm. The post lobby day reception (4:00 – 6:00 pm) will be extra special as we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of People For Puget Sound!

WHERE: United Churches of Olympia

Register today.

Washington state legislators just made some — and will soon be forced to make more — ugly choices to close the $4.6 billion budget gap our state faces from in the next two years. Those choices will include more cuts to natural resource funding in all program areas, including those that protect Puget Sound. We cannot hunker down and wait until more funding becomes available before pushing for environmental initiatives.

The Environmental Priorities Coalition has an agenda that meets the needs of our state in hard times. It provides solutions that will protect our environment and put people to work at the same time to help lead us to a sustainable economy.

The four legislative priorities for 2011 provide ways to build a strong economy with a healthy environment.

1. Budget Solutions For Our Environment, sustains core environmental protections by continuing investments in parks and preservation, and requires companies and others to pay their fair share for the services they receive.
2. Coal Free Future For Washington State, will protect citizens from the dangerous poisons emitted by the TransAlta coal-fired power plant in southwest Washington. It will eliminate the health and environmental threats from the state’s largest single source of toxic mercury, air, and climate pollution.
3. Clean Fertilizers, Healthier Lakes and Rivers, is a commonsense and cost effective approach to reducing phosphorus in our waterways by restricting the sale of phosphorus lawn fertilizer in our state. It attacks the problem by eliminating this discharge before it requires the spending of millions of dollars in wastewater treatment upgrades at our industries and municipal wastewater plants.
4. 2011 Clean Water Jobs Act, will fund job-creating projects all over the state, by building clean water infrastructure that will restore our water ways.

Please help do the hard work that will make these priorities a reality. Join us to flex your political muscles this year for the sake of our Puget Sound environment. Register today for Environmental Priorities Lobby Day on Tuesday, February 15th, 2011.

See you in Olympia.

Cheers,

Rein Attemann

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