On Tuesday, May 5th, Tacoma City Council will hold a remote Public Hearing to consider whether to renew the city’s temporary fossil fuel moratorium, known as the Tideflats Interim Regulations. These regulations are critical to prevent new fossil fuel facilities, especially bulk oil storage and trans loading, in Tacoma’s industrial lands and must be renewed. However, they also fall short of providing all the protections that Tacoma needs by continuing to permit expansions of existing facilities without additional oversight. Our local coalition—Protect Tacoma’s Tideflats—is asking organizations from across the Stand Up To Oil coalition and across the region to sign-on in support of renewing and strengthening these regulations.Like so many of our fights, this fight connects our communities from across the region as oil trains coming to the Port of Tacoma pass through Eastern Washington and through the Gorge, while oil vessels coming to and from Tacoma pose an oil spill risk to all of Puget Sound’s shoreline communities. Tacoma is a critical part of our regional defense and we need your support! If you would like to sign on please complete this easy GoogleForm by 10am on Tuesday, May 5th. The letter can also be viewed here.
The announcement below was from the UU Ministry for Earth (UUMFE) and the UUSJ for letters to members to Congress concerning HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons). HFCs are highly dangerous greenhouse gases that can trap heat 3000 times more than carbon dioxide. They were developed in the 1990's to replace chlorofluorocarbons, the CFCs that affected the ozone layer in the stratosphere. Although reduction of CFCs did reduce the danger of the ozone hole, their replacement with HFCs exacerbated the climate crisis. Washington State has passed a law to phase out HFCs but we need a national law. Act Now Against Dangerous “Super Pollutant” HFCs UUMFE is partnering with the Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (UUSJ) to collect as many personally written letters by UUs as possible to deliver to the US Senate in support of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (AIM), S.2754, a bipartisan bill to reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 85% over 15 years.
- Organize – Please invite & organize members of your congregation to participate in this Write Here! Write Now! (WHWN) letter-writing campaign. See full details via the button below.
- Letter writing party -- Friday 4/24 at Noon PT
According to strikewithus.org, the climate strikes planned for Earth Day, April 22, will be called off due to risks of spreading the corona virus, COVID-19. Strike With Us has been the organizing coalition for the strikes, including the Sierra Club, 350.org, Greenpeace, Green Faith, League of Conservation Voters, Our Children's Trust and Union of Concerned Scientists. According to the statement by Strike With Us, "We have a responsibility, as the climate justice movement, to do what we can to contain the spread and make the movement accessible for those who are most at risk, people who are immunocompromised, and those with disabilities. It is important that those who are immunocompromised and/or disabled are not left behind in this climate movement, as they are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis." "For this reason, the US Youth Climate Strike Coalition is asking organizers across the country to no longer physically mass mobilize for Earth Day, and instead think critically and creatively about how to engage their communities in disrupting business as usual through different and new tactics. The coalition will be providing resources and ideas to support this process in the coming days and weeks." More information is available at https://strikewithus.org/covid-response/
Four climate bills, HB 2311, HB 2248, HB 2518, and SB 5811 passed the 2020 legislature (see full descriptions by clicking on the bill number) and three have been signed by the governor. Two of the bills, HB 2311 (emissions limits) and SB 5811 (zero emissions vehicles) have deadlines for Washington state to reduce emissions in general and in transportation particularly. A third, HB 2518, mandates reductions in methane leakage, an area which is highly significant for climate change mitigation because methane is up to 80 times as powerful as carbon dioxide in trapping heat. One bill passed but did not become law: HB 2248 eases some of the restrictions on the community solar program already in effect; it has some administrative costs to the government. HB 2248 passed the House and Senate but Governor Inslee did not sign it because the state budget has been severely impacted by the corona virus. One bill, HB 1110, failed because of political maneuvering that ultimately proved to be futile (see description by clicking on the bill number). It would require fuel suppliers to reduce the carbon content of fuels through mixing biofuels with gasoline, and would promote electrification of vehicles. It was the highest priority of a coalition of environmental groups and others, including Washington biofuel companies. They now produce a lot of fuel for California, Oregon and British Columbia, all of whom have succeeded in instituting low carbon fuel standards. We need to join the "thin green line" of the West Coast, and the bill is likely to introduced again next January.
HB 1110 is the Clean Fuels Bill that requires reductions in carbon emissions from transportation fuels. It directs the Department of Ecology to adopt a rule establishing a Clean Fuels Program to limit greenhouse gas emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. HB 1110 passed the house but it had strong opposition in the senate. To counter this opposition, an amendment introduced by Senate Environment Committee Chair Reuven Carlyle made passage contingent on funding transportation projects including an I-5 bridge over the Columbia River. The bill passed the Environment Committee but it has been stalled in the Senate Transportation Committee and there was pressure to get it released. A number of legislators signed a letter to Transportation Committee Chair Senator Hobbs, saying that future funding for transportation projects may be dependent on passage of HB 1110. Nevertheless, Chair Hobbs did not schedule a vote of the committee and the bill died for the 2020 session.
HB 2518 requires the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) to increase oversight of measures undertaken by natural gas companies to reduce hazardous leaks and nonhazardous fugitive emissions from gas pipelines. It requires, beginning July 1, 2020, and on an annual basis thereafter, each gas pipeline company to submit to the UTC a report on the environmental and economic performance of its gas pipeline system. It also requires the UTC to publish a report that aggregates data by gas company concerning gas leaks by August 1, 2020, and on an annual basis thereafter. The House passed the bill on February 18 and the Senate passed it on March 5. It has been signed by the governor, and become law.
In 2008, Washington enacted legislation (RCW 70.235) that set a series of limits on the emission of greenhouse gases within the state: quote:
By 2020, reduce overall emissions of greenhouse gases in the state to 1990 levels;
By 2035, reduce overall emissions of greenhouse gases in the state to twenty-five percent below 1990 levels;
By 2050, the state will do its part to reach global climate stabilization levels by reducing overall emissions to fifty percent below 1990 levels, or seventy percent below the state's expected emissions that year. End quote.
In 2019, HB 2311 was introduced to modify these state greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets to
45 percent below 1990 levels by 2030,
70 percent below 1990 levels by 2040, and
95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, with the goal of net zero emissions. This would mean that any remaining emissions would be offset by sequestration.
The bill has passed the House and the Senate , and has been signed by the governor. It is one of the two priorities of environmental groups that passed this session. (The other is 5811, the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) bill. See separate post on this.)
On January 15, the Washington State Senate passed the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Bill 5811 and sent it to the House, where it passed on March 4. It has been signed by the governor. SB 5811 authorizes the Department of Ecology (DOE) to adopt California zero emission vehicle program regulations. Currently, California has a quota of 22% ZEVs by 2025, and there is a proposal to make the quota 100% by 2050.
On February 4 the House Committee on Environment and Energy held a hearing on HB 2829 Declaring a Climate Emergency, which authorizes the Governor to declare an energy emergency for purposes of limiting greenhouse gas emissions and building resiliency to the effects of climate change. This bill appears to be dead for the session but may be introduced next year again.
SB 6628 revises the definitions of emission and emission standard to include direct or indirect releases or emissions of air contaminants into the ambient air. It authorizes the Department of Ecology to require persons who produce or distribute fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases to comply with air quality and emission standards or emission limits on greenhouse gases. The Washington State Clean Air Rule required lowering emissions 1.7% a year, but it was invalidated by the State Supreme Court because it involved indirect releases from gas distributors and refineries. This bill is dead for this session but may be introduced next year.
On February 4, 2020, the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology held a hearing on SB 5981. It requires the Department of Ecology to implement a cap and trade program using allowances and auctions; it begins in 2021 for most entities, in 2024 for large, trade-exposed corporations. Utilities are provided 100% allowances and must assign free allowances to the state for auctions. Revenues go to energy assistance, tribes and fossil fuel workers. SB 5918 includes an environmental justice board and tribe consultation. This bill is unusual in terms of the support and opposition: some businesses (e.g., BP) support the bill while others oppose it. Some environmental groups (e.g., Climate Solutions) support it while others (e.g., Got Green) oppose it. This bill appears to be dead for the current session but may be introduced again next year.
HB 2427 adds climate change to the planning goals that guide the development and adoption of city and county comprehensive plans and development regulations under the Growth Management Act (GMA). It requires the consideration of the climate change planning goal by regional transportation planning organizations and in countywide planning policies under the GMA. The bill is dead for this session but may be reintroduced in a future session.
On January 21, 2020, the Washington State House Committee on Environment and Energy held a hearing on HB 2472, a bill for comprehensive reporting of carbon emissions from fossil fuel production, gathering, processing, storage, distribution, and combustion. The bill requires that new projects produce no net increase in emissions estimated over 20 and 100 years. This bill is likely dead for the session.
For Background: In 2008, Washington enacted legislation (RCW 70.235) that set a series of limits on the emission of greenhouse gases within the state: quote:
- By 2020, reduce overall emissions of greenhouse gases in the state to 1990 levels;
- By 2035, reduce overall emissions of greenhouse gases in the state to twenty-five percent below 1990 levels;
- By 2050, the state will do its part to reach global climate stabilization levels by reducing overall emissions to fifty percent below 1990 levels, or seventy percent below the state's expected emissions that year. End quote.
- 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2030,
- 70 percent below 1990 levels by 2040, and
- 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, with the goal of net zero emissions. This would mean that any remaining emissions would be offset by sequestration.
HB 1110 is the Clean Fuels Bill that requires reductions in carbon emissions from transportation fuels. It directs the Department of Ecology to adopt a rule establishing a Clean Fuels Program to limit greenhouse gas emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. HB 1110 has passed the house but it has strong opposition in the senate. To counter this opposition, an amendment introduced by Senate Environment Committee Chair Reuven Carlyle made passage contingent on funding transportation projects including an I-5 bridge over the Columbia River. The bill passed the Environment Committee but it has been stalled in the Transportation Committee and will probably die this session.
On January 16, 2020, the Washington State House Environment Committee held a hearing on HB 2248, the community solar bill. Most organizations supported the bill as a major contribution to Washington’s climate policy. A companion bill, SB 6223, had a hearing January 22 in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy & Technology (see arguments below). HB 2248 passed the House and Senate but Governor Inslee did not sign it because the state budget has been severely impacted by the corona virus.
Two climate bills that did not pass in 2019 are likely to be reintroduced in 2020:
HB 1110, Clean Fuels: this bill is proposed to limit the greenhouse gas emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. It passed the house but was returned by the senate and did not get out of the rules committee. There is strong opposition by petroleum interests.
SB 5811, Zero Emissions Vehicles: proposes to adopt California zero emission vehicle program regulations. (Note: California requires 22% of new vehicles sold in 2025 to be zero emissions vehicles, and there is a proposal for 100% by 2040.) It also encourages utilities to build a charging infrastructure, and extends incentives for purchase of EVs.
Please click on the blue bill number links, and watch for scheduled hearings.
Saturday, February 15, 2020 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. At University Unitarian Church, 6556 35th Ave. NE, Seattle The Climate Acton Team is sponsoring a workshop providing a hopeful alternative to depressing news about the climate. We are showing people concrete things that they can do today to help save the planet. We are reaching out to our people who feel ready to take action but don’t know what to do. The day begins with a panel discussion with community leaders committed to getting us off fossil fuels. Then six concurrent breakout sessions address
- renewable energy and electrification
- state and local efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions
- actions by individuals to reduce carbon footprints
- opportunities to connect with local activists and organizations
- eco-grief, building resilience, and taking action
- parents learning how to talk to their children about the climate crisis.
Rail Bite #5 - SR will cut Greenhouse Gas EmissionsOur Solutionary Rail Team has compiled Rail Bite 5 on "Solutionary Rail as a solution to Greenhouse Gas Emissions." Rail Bites are easy to digest morsels of info for busy policymakers, educating them on different aspects of electrified freight rail. Please share this with your elected officials and policymakers working on transportation, energy, and climate - and don't forget to SHARE on social media. Sign up to be a SR Ambassador and keep the momentum building!