Today is a truly Fantastic Friday, because we are able to celebrate the 52nd annual Earth Day!
The first Earth Day in 1970 saw 20 million Americans – 10% of the total population at the time! – take to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate against climate change impacts. Now, we see more than 1 billion people take action every year to help our beautiful planet.
Earth Day’s official website writes that “by tapping into some of the learnings, outcomes, and legacy of the first Earth Day, EARTHDAY.ORG is building a cohesive, coordinated, diverse movement, one that goes to the very heart of what EARTHDAY.ORG and Earth Day are all about — empowering individuals with the information, the tools, the messaging and the communities needed to make an impact and drive change.”
Learn more about Earth Day and its history here.
On this Earth Day in 2022, I wanted to take a look at some of my past and recent work in protecting our environment and promoting a greener future for Washington State. Those of you who have followed along will recognize some of these highlights, and I’m grateful for all of your support as I have worked to make our goal of a healthy, sustainable Washington a reality.
Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday.
“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff
A Green Amendment for Washington State
Last year, I had the chance to sit down with members of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) to discuss a potential Green Amendment for Washington State. This is something that I have been working on for some time, and it would be a tremendous step towards strong protections for our environment.
A Green Amendment would be a constitutional environmental rights amendment added to the Bill of Rights section of the state constitution that would recognize the rights of all people in the state to pure water, clean air, a stable climate, and healthy environments.
Following my discussion with NCEL and my colleagues in Olympia, I was proud to introduce the Washington Green Amendment, which would amend Article I of our state constitution to recognize the environmental rights of all people of Washington for both present and future generations.
Our work must always come with an eye for how we will impact future generations
As an amendment to the state constitution, the Washington Green Amendment requires two-thirds vote in each house of the Legislature. Next, it would be included on the ballot during the next general election, allowing you the people of Washington the opportunity to vote on whether environmental rights should be protected by the state constitution.
I will continue working with my colleagues to pass this important Amendment to our state constitution that will help us protect this beautiful place we all call home for the next seven generations to come.
Protecting Our Salmon Population
During my entire time in office, we have talked a number of times about the importance of salmon preservation, and how we must take steps today that will ensure our salmon are prosperous tomorrow. Even earlier in this newsletter we touched on what you can do in your home to help support local fish populations.
Now I want to take a moment to tell you about House Bill 1117 – a bill that I have sponsored with a number of close friends alongside me in the legislature. This bill, which is currently back in the People’s House and moving through the legislative system, would promote salmon recovery by adding revisions to our comprehensive planning framework.
This will be accomplished through three actions laid out in the bill: adopting state support for net ecological gain and incorporating elements of the local salmon recovery plan; ensuring that any impacts that future projects have on wetlands, water, and fish and wildlife habitats are compensated proportionally; and helping local governments by providing full resources needed to achieve the goals of salmon preservation.
This is ongoing work that continues to grow and change as it moves through the state legislature, and I will continue to provide updates as things progress. There is one thing that will not change – it has never been more important to put our salmon, and our environment as a whole, first in our minds and in our legislation.
Our salmon are so important to our ecosystems, and to our way of life. We must do our part to protect them!
We must continue to work on behalf of seven generations to come, ensuring that we leave behind a place that they will be proud to call home.
The Climate Commitment Act
Starting early next year, an important piece of legislation signed into law by Governor Inslee will go into effect. The Climate Commitment Act (CCA) caps and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s largest emitting sources and industries, as well as puts environmental justice and equity at the center of climate policy, ensuring that communities that bear the greatest burdens from air pollution today see cleaner, healthier air as the state cuts greenhouse gases.
I want to again thank Governor Inslee for championing this important cause, and for all the work he has done in the past year to set us up for success once the CCA goes into effect on January 1, 2023.
Through collaboration and dedication we will continue to make great strides in protecting our environment. I am confident that we will make our grandchildren’s grandchildren proud with the work we are doing today, and it is with them in mind that we must act moving forward.
Be on the look out for round table discussions with me over the next few months as I continue building out my legislative priorities with your input!
Washington Strong Recovery Bond Program
At the end of 2020, I was proud to work with my fellow legislators Representative Sharon Shewmake and State Senator Liz Lovelett to introduce the Washington STRONG recovery bond program, which focused on helping Washingtonians recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Washington STRONG would authorize a 10-year series of “green” bonds, which could unlock more than $16 billion for direct investment and has the potential to create upwards of 150,000 jobs by providing much-needed local stimulus with a focus on rural economic development and frontline communities.
These recovery bonds will be financed by a per-ton price on carbon, imposed once at the time and place of the first sale or use. The proposal was carefully constructed to minimize the impact on agricultural sectors, moderate and low-income households, and energy intensive and trade exposed businesses. Washington STRONG will generate a sustainable funding stream needed to finance a resilient recovery and transition Washington to a clean economy.
We have come so far in recovery from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and how we used that unique opportunity to emphasize green infrastructure and do more to help our environment.
It is during moments like these that we must make the right decision, one that sets us up to leave a better world behind for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.
Protecting Our Resident Killer Whales
During my first year in office, I was proud to sponsor and pass legislation that reinforces the Oil Spill Prevention Act and Strengthening Oil Transportation Act. There is so much natural splendor here in Washington State, and that includes our beautiful waters.
The bill requires small oil tankers and barges to have tug escorts when traveling through the narrow straights of the San Juan Islands. Oil spills could have devastating ramifications for coastal economies, the environment and marine life.
I worked to pass this important legislation to better protect our resident killer whales by preventing oil spills in the Salish Sea. As of 2020, there were only 74 resident killer whales in the Salish Sea. It’s so important that we do our part to protect the important ecosystems that these beautiful creatures call home.
Averting spills is also more cost-effective than clean-up and restoration. The Department of Ecology estimates that a major spill could cost taxpayers around $10.8 billion and impact 165,000 jobs.
Endorsing My Re-election Campaign!
Friends, representing you in Olympia these past four years has been such an incredible honor. I have loved getting to know each and every one of you, and it is always my goal to listen to each of you as we continue working to create a place our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be proud to call home.
It’s with that in mind that I ask you to stand with my campaign – I would love to include your name on my list of endorsements as I run for re-election this year. If you’d like to endorse my campaign, click here – it will only take a minute!
Excited to run to continue as your voice in Olympia!
The 40th LD is an incredible place, and I am proud to have you behind me as I run for re-election to continue as your voice in Olympia.