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Environmental Concerns Top Of Mind As Lawmakers Reconvene In Olympia

Courtesy Washington Department of Ecology via AP Photo
This file photo from June 2016 shows scattered and burned oil tank cars after a train derailed near Mosier, Ore. Among the WEC enviromental priorities for 2018 is an Oil Spill Prevention Act.

As the state legislative session begins Monday, climate activists are out in full force in Olympia. They’re urging lawmakers to take bold steps to slow global warming.

Climate action is one of four legislative priorities for 2018 put forth by a statewide coalition of environmental groups. Each year, the Washington Conservation Voters and the Washington Environmental Council put out legislative priorities based on the input of more than 20 organizations working statewide.

Topping their list this year is climate action. Lobbyist Clifford Traisman says there’s pent-up interest in seeing the state take action.

“We have seen the federal government abdicate its responsibility to address global warming pollution,” Traisman said. “Industry can no longer say that we need to wait on a federal solution. The gridlock in D.C. speaks for itself, and citizens and activists in Washington state have been thirsty for action on climate.”

He says the coalition supports legislation putting a price on carbon. Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to introduce such a proposal this week.  

Also on their list is finding a sustainable solution to the water management crisis known as the Hirst Decision, which held up the capital budget last year.  

And there are two specific bills they want passed. The first is the Healthy Food Packaging Act, which would ban toxic non-stick chemicalsused in everything from microwave popcorn bags to pizza boxes and muffin wrappers.  

Finally, a new bill strengthening oil transportation safety would extend the barrel tax on oil to pipelines and raise it by 2 cents to protect the state from evolving risks in oil transportation.  

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to