Earth Ministry’s Past Legislative Priorities

2017 Washington State Legislative Session

Children’s Safe Electronics Act: HB 1596

In 2008, the Washington State Legislature passed the Children’s Safe Products Act (CSPA). We are grateful for this groundbreaking law that requires makers of children’s products to disclose whether certain toxic chemicals are present in their products. Reporting use of toxic chemicals in clothing, toys, bedding, and personal care products has had a positive impact on the health of our children, the marketplace, and product makers.

A major category of products is exempt from this law – children’s and consumer electronics, including cellphones, computers, and televisionsElectronic products should NOT be exempt because:

  • They contain toxic metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and beryllium as well as phthalates – chemicals linked to reproductive problems and learning disabilities.
  • Kids are spending more time than ever in front of screens and using electronics.
  • Electronic products are the highest-use product category for toxic flame retardants.
  • Several studies indicate that these chemicals migrate from electronic products into household dust. Adults, children, and pets are then exposed through incidental ingestion of dust.

The Children’s Safe Electronics Act is a right-to-know bill that will provide crucial information for us to know what chemicals are in the products we purchase and for policymakers to have the best information to keep us safe. The moral choice is clear – we need to hold electronics to the same standard as all other product categories under the Children’s Safe Products Act.

Healthy Food Packaging Act: HB 1744

Many food packaging materials, especially those used for fast-food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags, are made with a class of chemicals called PFAS (perfluorinated compounds) that are linked to a variety of health effects, including cancer and hormone disruption. When we pop a bag of popcorn or grab a quick meal, we’re often going for reduced stress, not added concern about chemicals leaching into our food.

We need to get all PFAS chemicals out of food packaging because:

  • PFAS chemicals are designed to repel both oil and water, and are so highly persistent that scientists call them “virtually indestructible.”
  • Recent testing found PFAS chemicals in all 30 microwave popcorn bags tested
  • PFAS chemicals were in 42% of fast food wrappers tested—showing widespread use of these chemicals, but also broad adoption of alternatives.

This bill will eliminate the unnecessary use of perfluorinated compounds (PFAS) in food packaging to protect the health of all of God’s children. Please call your elected official in support of it today!

Clean Energy Transition Act: HB 1646 & SB 5509

We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address the harmful effects of climate change in order to protect our health, communities, and economy. When we make the transition to clean, efficient energy we will grow our economy, creating a new wave of jobs and prosperity. In Washington, a group of social justice, labor, faith, environmental and health advocates have created what we believe is the most effective and equitable carbon reduction policy to date for transitioning to a clean energy economy.

The Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy’s policy will:

  • Drive significant investment in clean energy, healthy forests, and water infrastructure—to reduce climate pollution more quickly and address the impacts of climate change in Washington.
  • Fund these investments with a tax on climate pollution, which has a price that is linked to how well we are on track to meeting our emissions limits. These limits will be based on best available science in order to contribute to achieving a healthy, stable climate.
  • Bolster economic stability and equity in the transition to clean energy.

    (Click here to see the full fact sheet)

Oil Transportation Safety Bill: HB 1611 & SB 5462

With the approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, we expect an increase in tanker traffic by 700% through the Salish Sea, meaning more oil moving through pipelines and more export terminals, making Washington State a target for dangerous spills and explosions.

The Oil Transportation Safety Bill will:

  • Ensure that the oil industry pays in the case of a spill or other disaster
  • Update funding for prevention, preparedness and response
  • Protect Puget Sound from increased oil barges and other vessels from the Kinder Morgan Pipeline
  • Protect against refineries turning into transshipment terminals
  • Strengthen oversight of pipeline safety

We must do what we can to protect God’s creation since it cannot defend itself. We support this legislation to ensure common sense safety measures that will provide funding for oil spill prevention and response. The health of our environment and local communities depends on it.

Click here for more a one-page factsheet.

Fund the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA): HB 1663 & SB 5501

The Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) has been a successful law dedicated to cleaning up of toxic waste sites, preventing the use of harmful chemicals in products, and controlling pollution to protect water quality. The law relies on one of the most volatile revenue sources in the state budget–the hazardous substance tax. Because oil prices have plummeted and the MTCA fund has been raided repeatedly for other programs, there is a $75 million shortfall in its funding. This priority will impose a tax surcharge on imported toxics to ensure the money is secure and stable to solve the $75 million shortfall.

Our faith calls us to care for the most vulnerable. The MTCA is dedicated to the cleanup of toxic sites which often happen in the poorest of our communities. God calls on us to ensure that these vulnerable communities have access to clean water, a stable environment, and good health. Fully funding the MTCA is one important way that we can do so.

Click here for a one-page factsheet.

Water for People, Farms, and Fish: SB 5024

The Supreme Court recently held in its Hirst decision that new housing developments should not move forward where there is no legal and practical access to safe drinking water, or where providing safe drinking water will hurt flows in rivers and streams that wildlife, habitat, and senior water rights depend on. This bill codifies the Hirst decision into law.

It is our responsibility as people of faith to protect the water that gives life to us and to all of God’s creatures. We are stewards of the Earth when we provide reliable and sustainable sources of clean and safe water to our communities.

Click here for a one-page factsheet.

Clean Energy First Act: HB 1334

  • Builds on the success of I-937, Washington’s Energy Independence Act, which set 2020 efficiency goals. Washington has seen a boom in the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors, generating billions of dollars in investment and thousands of jobs.
  • Creates a path toward a 100% clean energy electric grid in Washington by prioritizing clean energy investments. Requires new energy needs be met with clean, renewable sources including energy efficiency, wind, solar, and existing hydropower.
  • Additional fossil fuel resources, specifically natural gas, would be permissible only if a utility can demonstrate that it cannot meet standards using a portfolio of renewable resources.

Solar Tax Credits: SB 5939 – PASSED!

This bill promotes a sustainable, local renewable energy industry through modifying renewable energy system tax incentives and providing guidance for renewable energy system component recycling.

  • This legislation will keep 3,700 solar employees working in  Washington
  • Allows customers who seek a solar energy alternative for their home or business to receive eight years of incentive payments at the same rate at which they enter the program.
  • Expands utility participation in renewable energy.
  • Allows customers already enrolled to maintain their existing incentive rates until 2020

2016 Washington State Legislative Session

Toxic-Free Kids & Families Act – ESHB 2545 – PASSED!

Kid sitting on a couchPeople of faith know it’s just not right that our children play on and around household products containing toxic chemicals. It’s also not right that firefighters have disproportionate rates of cancer, which have been linked to these chemicals. The Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act will right these wrongs.

Hazardous flame retardants in upholstered furniture are linked to serious health effects such as cancer, lower IQ, neurobehavioral disorders, endocrine disruption, fertility problems, and many more. The good news is that there are safer alternatives.

The Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act protects the most vulnerable among us, especially children, families, public servants, and pets. Specifically the bill:

  • Bans 5 flame retardants (TCEP, TDCPP, TBBPA, HBCD, and Deca (BDE) in children’s products and furniture.
  • Gives the state’s health department the authority to ban through rulemaking additional cancer-causing and other harmful chemicals from being used as flame retardants in children’s products and furniture
  • Ensures that safer alternatives are available

Learn more about the faith perspective on the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act in
Earth Ministry’s 2016 Factsheet
For more information from the WA Toxics Coalition, please click here.

Safeguard Our Environment

Earth Minsitry/WAIPL is a member of the Environmental Priorities Coalition, a network of over 20 leading environmental groups across the region that influence policy at the state level. Partnering closely with the wider conservation community in our advocacy work, we bring an important spiritual and moral voice to environmental issues of the day.

The Safeguard Our Environment priority focuses on protecting critical laws and investments that improve public health, create green jobs, and make Washington a great place to live, work, and play. This priority has four components:

  1. Clean Air
  2. Clean Energy
  3. Clean and Abundant Water
  4. Healthy Lands

Click here to learn more about each component of the Safeguard our Environment Priority.

 

2015 Washington State Legislative Session

Read on to learn more about Earth Ministry/WAIPL’s priorities in the 2015 WA State Legislative Session. We are grateful for the faith community advocates who actively engaged in the important environmental issues our state dealt with in this year’s session

Check out Earth Ministry’s 2015 Legislative Priorities Fact Sheet – a useful resource to share with your faith community!

Toxic-Free Kids & Families Act – HB 1174

Earth Ministry/WAIPL is once again joining with the Washington Toxics Coalition to advocate for the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act. Studies show that toxic flame retardants in furniture foam and children’s products are linked to neurological disabilities, cancer, and endocrine disruption, which are a hefty price to pay considering that there are safer alternatives available. Reality is that these chemicals harm anyone who sits on furniture, and are especially detrimental to the most vulnerable among us. Healthcare workers, firefighters, faith leaders, parents, and students advocate that we address this serious public health issue by:

  • Banning 6 toxic flame retardants in home furniture and children’s products
  • Preventing the toxic treadmill, replacing one toxic flame retardant with another
  • Ensuring compliance through reporting to the Department of Ecology
  • Exempting products if there are no safer alternatives

To learn more about the Toxic-Free Kids & Families Act, please click here.

Toxic Reduction Act – HB 1472

Governor Inslee has introduced a bold toxics package that offers a comprehensive approach to regulating harmful chemicals in consumer products. Building on pre-existing laws and processes, we strive to protect our waterways as well as our bodies by:

  • Establishing a process to identify priority harmful chemicals of concern
  • Requiring chemical action plans to reduce and eliminate priority chemicals
  • Granting the Department of Ecology authority to ban chemicals if safer alternatives exist

Carbon Pollution Accountability Act – HB 1314

Washingtonians are doing their part as individuals to keep this state clean, but industries that emit huge amounts of carbon pollution are able to do it without paying a price. Right now we are already witnessing the effects of global warming pollution – from economic losses in the shellfish industry to fiercer and more frequent forest fires, we are feeling impacts close to home. Earth Ministry/WAIPL supports the Governor’s plans to ensure clean air and a healthier climate by: 

  • Making polluters pay for carbon emissions
  • Enforcing our state climate laws
  • Reducing harmful emissions in the future
  • Generating needed revenue to make smart investments across the entire state – the income  generated will promote further emissions reductions, expand transit, support education, and address potential effects on low-income communities

To learn more about the Carbon Pollution Accountability Act, please click here.
To read the Governor’s Policy Brief click here
Click here to learn about the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, the broad coalition of organizations supporting this bill.

Oil Transportation Safety Now – HB 1449

Weakened version passed and was signed into law

Under significant pressure from the oil industry, the Washington State Legislature came to agreement on a weakened oil transportation safety bill. This compromise comes after stronger legislation spearheaded by Governor Jay Inslee, Representative Jessyn Farrell, and Senator Christine Rolfes passed the House twice with bipartisan support. The final legislation improves transparency and takes modest steps on safety but leaves undone significant work to protect the public. 

Key components of the bill include:

  • Reporting on the volume and type of oil transported, oil spills, and other information that will be given to first responders and that the public can easily access through a new website.
  • Authorizing the state to inspect rail crossings and push for repairs to degraded rail infrastructure.
  • Financial protections to ensure that the companies carrying dangerous crude oil shipments through our region, not taxpayers, can pay for response after any size of spill or accident.

Key weakness in the updated bill:

  • Puget Sound left unprotected. Oil spill prevention measures in Puget Sound were removed entirely from the bill.
  • Important safety measures left without reliable funding. While the barrel tax has been extended to cover oil transported by rail, it relies on a one-time transfer of oil response funds to pay for implementation. This approach means that needed safety measures will lack funding within two years.

 

 

Environmental Priorities Coalition editAs a member of the Environmental Priorities Coalition, Earth Ministry/WAIPL works closely with the wider conservation community in our advocacy work. We bring an important spiritual and moral voice to environmental issues of the day.

The Environmental Priorities Coalition is a network of over 20 leading environmental groups across the region that influence policy at the state level. Find out more about the Environmental Priorities Coalition.

 

2014 Washington State Legislative Session

Oil Transportation Safety Act – HB 2347

Throughout the nation, we are hearing about dangerous accidents and fires caused by oil transport. Recent oil train derailments in Canada and the United States highlight the risky business of moving oil through our cities. Yet local governments, first responders, and the public lack basic information on how much, what type, and how oil is moving through their towns. HB 2347 will require this disclosure.

At the same time, Washington faces new proposals to move more oil through our state. It is more urgent than ever to improve safety by evaluating existing emergency response plans, identifying our most vulnerable communities, and developing approaches to reduce risk. We are also working to enhance tug escort requirements to protect our waterways and coasts. See our fact sheet: People of Faith Support the Oil Transportation Safety Act.

Closing the Big Oil Tax Loophole HB 2465

Oil companies like BP and Shell should be paying to clean up their pollution, not profiting from a state tax loophole that was never meant for them. The Legislature created this “accidental loophole” in 1949, before any oil refineries operated in Washington. Now, Big Oil profits from the system and avoids paying $59 million of their fair share of taxes. Earth Ministry worked in partnership with the Environmental Priorities Coalition to try and close this loophole and reallocate this tax revenue for education.