A coalition of Washington State environmental groups—including the Washington Environmental Council, Washington Conservation Voters, Climate Solutions, and the Sierra Club—have announced a list of priorities for the upcoming legislative session that represents a significant scaling back from last year's ambitious list of environmental goals.
First, the coalition of environmental groups is pushing for the Safe Baby Bottle Act, which would ban bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles, sippy cups, and athletic water bottles. BPA has been linked to cancer, miscarriage, reproductive disorders, and other problems.
Second, they're working to pass the "Working for Clean Water Act," a fee on petroleum companies to pay for clean-water protection projects. The proposal is the only environmental priority on House Speaker Frank Chopp's list of legislative priorities for 2010. Supporters say the fee could eventually be supplanted by a tax, which could go for other projects besides stormwater cleanup.
Finally, the enviros are pushing the legislature not to slash environmental programs this year. Last session, the legislature eliminated the state Water Quality Account, which paid for local water quality programs (like sewage plants) around the state and gutted the Model Toxics Control Act, the voter-approved state Superfund law. Additionally, environmental advocates would like to see $18 million in other natural-resources funding restored; realistically, however, they're pushing the state to just hold off on any more major cuts.
"They cut more deeply into natural resources than any other area," WEC/WCV lobbyist Cliff Traisman says. "In our heyday, we were at 1.7 percent of the [state's] general fund. Now, we're at 1.2 percent. Pretty soon you get down to, what's the point?"
Last year, the environmental coalition's agenda included new energy-efficiency mandates; the controversial transit-oriented communities bill; cap-and-trade legislation; and the same petroleum fee that's on this year's agenda.