Climate News

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Climate News

Seattle

House Our Neighbors announced that it would run a campaign for a new initiative for social housing. The previous initiative set up the administration of the social housing, this one will be to fund the housing. The initiative would apply a 5% payroll tax on companies who have employees making more than $1M per year, and could raise $50M per year, starting in 2025. This could be enough to pay for 2000 additional units of new social housing over 10 years. House Our Neighbors will have 180 days to gather 26,521 valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

The Seattle Transportation Plan and Levy are expected to be released sometime in Feb., and will have 4 weeks of public review, after which it is expected to go to council in April. The Transportation Levy needs to be passed this summer in order to get on the ballot for Nov. The City has planned to meet its decarbonization goals for 2030 mainly by vehicle electrification and mode shift, and one thing to evaluate for the Transportation Levy is whether the planned investments will be enough to get the level of mode shift that we need.

The draft Comprehensive Plan is now many months delayed, but expected in Feb or March.

State

Legislators are holding Town Halls, see here for a schedule. Usually the legislators give a recap of how things are going, sometimes will discuss for things that failed why they failed. It is a great chance to ask questions about climate bills, even just bringing the topic up shows the legislator that people care about it. It can be a simple matter of asking what has been done on climate, or it can be any specific climate concern you have.


The Legislative Session just passed its fiscal cutoff, and the next deadline is Feb 13 for when bills must have passed their House of Origin, or be Necessary To Implement the Budget. Below see the status of some of the big climate bills, here's a link to see many others. Click the tab on the bottom to show Dead Bills.

These bills have passed their Chamber of Origin, and move on to the opposite chamber:

These bills have been scheduled for a floor vote:

All other bills that are still under consideration are in their chamber's Rules Committee. The Rules Committee in each chamber schedules bills for floor votes.

These bills failed to advance and are no longer under consideration:

Elsewhere

The Biden Administration  announced that they would postpone making a decision on new LNG export terminals until it can more thoroughly study the effect on the climate and on the American public. This is a major win for the climate, as the new terminals would be a natural gas mega-project and have been described as a "climate bomb". For more info on this, there's a new podcast from Robinson Meyer and Jesse Jenkins with more background information.

A report from UC-Boulder concluded that Biden's climate platform may have been pivotal in winning the 2020 election (paper). "We find that climate change opinion has had a significant and growing effect on voting that favors the Democrats and is large enough to be pivotal to the outcomes of close elections. We project that climate change opinion probably cost Republicans the 2020 presidential election, all else being equal."

Climate News 1.24.23

Seattle

The City Council appointed Tanya Woo to fill Theresa Mosqueda's at large position on the Council.  Tanya Woo will chair the Committee on Sustainability, City Light, and Culture, which is a key committee for those interested in climate. Here's a summary from her on her priorities for Seattle; she doesn't say much about climate directly, but is in favor of increased traffic safety and more public transit service.

King County

The County released a 2023 Biennial update to the Strategic Climate Action Plan. It notes: "The most recent GHG inventory for King County showed that emissions increased to 27.1 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MTCO2e) by 11 percent compared to 2007. Per-capita GHG emissions have declined over time 7 percent and 23 percent in 2019 and 2020, respectively, compared to the 2007 baseline year. The most substantial drivers for an increase in emissions were population growth, higher GHG emissions from electricity provided by Puget Sound Energy, and increased aviation emissions. Increased efficiency of passenger vehicles (decreased emissions per mile) was the largest contributor to decreasing emissions." The report also has a useful graphic illustrating the need for further local action on climate, and another one that shows how much reductions result from each policy. The grey & black areas represent changes we still need to make, and the light green are reductions we will need from aviation & marine transport.

State

The Legislative Session is in full swing, since it's a short session, time is going by quickly. The first deadline for bills to pass their policy committee in the Chamber of Origin (either House or Senate) is coming up next week, Jan 31. Bills that haven't gotten the approval of their policy committee by then will be "dead" for this year, although they can be reintroduced in the next year. Here's a quick recap of some (but certainly not all!) of the climate-related bills:

I-2117, an initiative to repeal the Climate Commitment Act, has been certified for the ballot. The Legislature has the option to adopt the initiative, to let it go to the voters as is, or to submit an alternative that will appear on the ballot together with the initiative. This is one of six initiatives backed by Republicans, the others, not yet certified, would repeal the capital gains tax, roll back the police vehicular pursuit law, give parents a "bill of rights" to review their children's curriculum, let people opt out of long term care insurance, and block state and local governments from enacting income taxes.

Climate News 1.3.24

Seattle

The new City Council had its first meeting on Jan 3 (Crosscut). They elected Sara Nelson as Council President. They will be accepting applications for a replacement for Theresa Mosqueda through Jan 9.  They made the following committee assignments:

Here are some things we can expect over the next year from city government:

January

June

November

December

Sound Transit

Julie Timm, CEO of Sound Transit has resigned, and will be paid one year's severance pay while she is on retainer to provide consultations. It is not clear why she is leaving, but it seems likely that there were differences with the Board, which is mostly made up of elected officials from counties and cities within the Sound Transit service area. Sound Transit will be starting a search for a new CEO. In the meantime, the technical advisory board has voiced concerns that problems they have pointed out remain, and that important management oversight roles, beyond that of CEO, still need to be filled.

State

Northwest Natural, a gas company that serves 2.5 million people in northwest Washington, has been offering builders $2000 to install gas in appliances and hook ups in new homes. This is according to The Guardian: Revealed: US utility firms offer builders cash and trips to fit new homes with gas appliances. The article points out: "The longstanding relationship between gas interests and the building sector could be a major impediment to decarbonizing buildings, which account for roughly one-third of US greenhouse gas emissions."

The State's Legislative Session starts on Jan. 8 and runs through March 7.


Note: if you would like to weigh in on climate legislation during the Legislative Session, a great way is to subscribe to 350 Washington's Civic Action Team, which sends out twice weekly updates on legislation with quick actions you can take to influence the outcome. Another great resource is Climate At the Legislature.