Category Archives: climate

Audubon members raise their voices for birds

A number of Vashon Audubon members participated in Environmental Lobby Day on January 29. We joined more than 500 members of the Environmental Priorities Coalition to urge state legislators to enact 100% clean electricity legislation and other policies. Members Rob Briggs, Sarah Driggs, Rayna and Jay Holtz, Virginia Lohr, Sharon Metcalf, Margie Morgan, and Randy Smith were among those who made the trip to Olympia.

Many of the issues we advocated for have been moving through the legislative process since then. As of Feb. 22, the clean electricity legislation had passed out of the final House and Senate committees.

To see where things stand, read Washington Audubon’s weekly update.

Top priorities for Audubon Washington are a transition to 100% clean electricity, cleaner fuels for transportation, enhanced building efficiency standards, full funding of the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s budget request, and protection of sagebrush habitat.

Other issues on the Coalition agenda are oil spill prevention, emergency actions to save the southern resident orcas, and reduction of plastic pollution

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Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (near the door) with 34th District constituents.

On the lobby day, 28 constituents of the 34th District—comprising Vashon, West Seattle, and Burien—packed the offices of Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, Rep. Eileen Cody, and Sen. Joe Nguyen to urge their support these issues.

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Sen. Joe Nguyen (kneeling) posed with his constituents after their meeting

It wasn’t a hard sell; each of them strongly backs the policies we advocated for. Rep. Fitzgibbon, in particular, chairs the House Environment & Energy Committee and has been a stalwart leader on climate legislation.

We also heard from Gov. Jay Inslee, who offered stirring words to the Coalition crowd on the Capitol steps. “It is our duty to defeat climate change,” he said, “and we are going to defeat climate change.”

Quest for climate legislation continues

Following the defeat of Washington’s Initiative 1631, which would have created a carbon emissions fee, you may be wondering what’s being done on the legislative front to act on climate change.

A coalition of 23 environmental groups, including Audubon Washington, is continuing to seek solutions that would reduce carbon pollution fairly and equitably. The Environmental Priorities Coalition has launched a grassroots campaign to pass several climate policies in the 2019 legislative session: a 100 percent clean electricity standard, a clean fuel standard, and enhanced building efficiency standards.

These policies are part of Governor Inslee’s comprehensive proposal to accelerate the transition to a cleaner, carbon-free future. Recent polling reveals strong popular support for climate action, and specific support for these policies.

Here’s some more information about the three policy priorities:

The 100 percent clean electricity standard
This standard would phase out coal-generated electricity by 2025, leading to a carbon neutral electricity sector by 2030. It would phase in electricity generated from solar, wind, hydro, and other clean and renewable resources, reaching 100 percent clean by 2045.

Washington is in a strong position to demonstrate that the transition to a fossil fuel-free electric power system is technically possible, economically viable, and a key driver for new jobs and economic growth. California, Hawaii, numerous cities and municipalities, and a growing list of private sector entities have committed to this clean energy transition.

Clean fuel standard
Transportation fuels are responsible for nearly half of the climate pollution in Washington. The clean fuel standard would require oil refiners and importers to reduce the carbon intensity of fuels over time, supporting expanded transportation electrification, lower carbon fuels, and more jobs in homegrown energy production.

Enhanced building efficiency standards
The residential, commercial and industrial sector accounts for a fifth of our state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Enhanced building efficiency standards would catalyze investments in energy efficiency. With an aggressive new energy efficiency policy, our region could potentially meet 100 percent of its electricity load growth over the next 20 years with energy efficiency.

Vashon Audubon will go to Olympia
Audubon Washington typically hosts an advocacy day in Olympia early in the legislative session. Members from many of the 25 Audubon chapters across the state participate.

This year, Audubon will increase its impact by joining forces with the Environmental Priorities Coalition at a lobby day on Tuesday, Jan. 29.

If you would like to participate and show your support for conservation and climate action, please send an email to info@vashonaudubon.org.

Photo above: Aus Tex Solar.

Protecting the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

The National Audubon Society has assembled a coalition of more than 500 conservation groups and other organizations to defend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which has protected North American birds for 100 years. Vashon Audubon is participating in this effort.

In November 2017, Rep. Liz Cheney introduced a measure to gut the MBTA as an amendment to H.R. 4239, a bill written to weaken environmental protections in order to facilitate oil and gas drilling. Soon after, the Office of the Solicitor within the Department of the Interior released an opinion saying it will no longer enforce the MBTA in cases of incidental bird deaths, effectively giving a blank check to industry to avoid gruesome and preventable bird deaths.

Congress passed the MBTA in 1918 in response to public outcry over the mass slaughter of birds. The law prohibits killing or harming America’s birds except under certain conditions, including managed hunting seasons for game species.

Today, this law protects birds from 21st-century threats by bringing together industry, government and conservation organizations to implement best-management practices. Commonsense solutions like covering oil pits and flagging transmission lines protect countless birds each year from otherwise needless deaths.

A top priority for Audubon this year is to make sure that no bills weakening the MBTA become law.

Purple Martins photo by Ray Pfortner