Ben Broesamle spoke at our February meeting about House Bill 1304, which is a bill before the State Legislature that would extend the legal provisions made for monorail to light rail, to help close funding gaps for Sound Transit and provide a path to expand light rail beyond the Sound Transit 3 package. The Urbanist had a great article on this, Hackney Bill Offers Seattle a Path to Fund Rail Priorities.
UPDATE: the bill passed the House Committee on Local Government, and has been referred to the Rules Committee!
Ryan Packer spoke at our February meeting, and gave us a great rundown on the various transportation package proposals that are being negotiated at the State Legislature this spring. There is the Evergreen Proposal from Senator Saldaña, Forward Washington from Senator Hobbs, and a third authored by the House Democrats. Each one comes with different funding mechanisms, includes different projects, and has different impacts on the climate. View the slides for all the details!
Senator Jamie Pedersen was a guest speaker at the December meeting, where he discussed the coming 2021 Legislative Session. This session will be held remotely, which will make it different from previous sessions, and force legislators to focus their attention on fewer bills. Sen Pedersen expects that the Democratic Caucus will prioritize bills which fit into one of a few areas, which include covid-19 recovery, racial justice, and climate change.
Sen. Pedersen highlighted a number of different bills to expect. First, this is a budget year, and the budget is looking better now with an improved economic forecast. There will be a transportation package, and that will also be a major focus. There is a backlog of bridges and culverts that will need to be addressed in the package. Clean Fuels will come up again this year, and there is increased optimism about passing it out of the Senate. Updating the GMA, as proposed by Futurewise, is also expected to be a major bill. Some form of more progressive revenue, with clear goals about how it would be spent, will also come up.
Jeff Berner gave a presentation on the Washington State Energy Strategy at our December meeting. The Energy Strategy contains policy ideas and a roadmap of different paths for how the State can meet its goals to reduce greenhouse gas. The call for an updated strategy is part of the Clean Energy Transformation Act of 2019. The presentation gives a quick overview of the Strategy report, and some of the tradeoffs that are in it.
Special guests Sandra Mallory, Duane Jonlin and Amy Wheeless joined us for November’s meeting. Sandra Mallory is the Sustainable Building Manager for the City of Seattle in the Office of Sustainability & Environment. She spoke about Seattle’s current programs for decarbonization of buildings, with some thoughts about how to extend decarbonization to more buildings in the city. Duane Jonlin from the Seattle Department of Codes and Inspection, talked about the new Energy Codes that will be up before the City Council next month. And Amy Wheeless from the Northwest Energy Coalition talked about advocacy opportunities at the local and state levels.
Seattle City Light presented to the Caucus about their new four year plan to invest in accelerating transportation electrification. Transportation Electrification is the use of electricity to power buses, trucks, cars, ferries and other modes of transport. By using City Light’s affordable hydroelectric power, transportation electrification can lead to a number of community benefits including cleaner air, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, opportunities to save money, and new jobs. City Light has developed investment priorities for transportation electrification based on feedback from environmental justice community leaders, environmental justice organizations, labor unions, shared mobility companies, major commercial fleets and transportation industry stakeholders. They are taking feedback on the plan now, and will be presenting it to City Council in September.
May 4th Matthew Metz joined the 43rd District Environmental Caucus to give and update on the status of getting rid of gasoline in Washington State.
Matthew reviewed recent Legislative success with the funding of a study for converting public fleets to all electric, to the Zero Emission Vehicle bill just passed and pending the important phase out of fossil fuel vehicles in 2030 (HB2515).
Matthew also reviewed the toxicity issues with gas stations throughout Seattle and the need for them to be in compliance with current laws regarding toxic leakage into the air and ground. Drawing attention to the environmental hazards of gas stations is one more avenue to helping everyone envision a healthy sustainable future without gasoline.
Recently I attended a very interesting webinar organized by a local King County group, People for Climate Action, about addressing CO2 emissions from buildings. It’s not too technical, and is full of information about policies and programs to reduce GHG from buildings. To listen to it, or to see the slides from it, see here.
We met with Ted Virdone from Kshama Sawant’s office, and discussed funding sources for the Green New Deal, principally a payroll big business tax that would result in revenue for social housing (75%) and green buildings (weatherization & electrification – 25%). We discussed Orca for All, and the possibility of a free transit system. We discussed the No New Fossil Fuel Hookups, which is on the workplan for the Sustainability Committee this year.