Vashon-Maury Community Council supports green legislation

Islanders place a high priority on protecting the environment and addressing the climate crisis.

Editor’s note: Green Briefs is a regular series of commentaries by eco-leaders on Vashon, presented in The Beachcomber in partnership with The Whole Vashon Project.

At the December 2023 meeting of the Vashon-Maury Community Council (V-MCC), four separate Environmental Legislation Motions were made by Kevin Jones. All passed with strong community support and have been shared with our governmental leaders.

This demonstrates that Vashon-Maury islanders place a high priority on protecting the environment and addressing the climate crisis. It is one of many ways we can broadcast our wishes to our local and state elected officials. Details of the motions and additional resources can be found here:

Motion 1 involves restoration of salmon habitat along the Snake River. The proposed bill would urgently fund, plan and implement projects to replace the energy, transportation and irrigation services currently provided by the lower Snake River dams.

These are part of a comprehensive strategy to restore a healthy river, protect salmon and orcas from extinction, and uphold our nation’s promises to Northwest Tribes. This legislative action is a priority goal of the “Save our Wild Salmon” non-profit organization.

Motion 2 focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency actions to address the climate crisis with four priority goals of the Vashon Climate Action Group:

  • Remove specific impediments to community solar projects and assure that new rooftop solar owners receive full credit for the energy they generate;
  • Establish a method for energy labeling of existing residential buildings which could be used as a condition of sale;
  • Urge our legislators to reject proposals by major industry groups that have stated their desire to weaken Washington’s landmark cap and invest law (the Climate Commitment Act) in the 2024 legislative session; and
  • Protect Washington State consumers from funding the political activities of their electric utility companies.

Motion 3 deals with Enhancing Re-use (right to repair) and recycling. Zero Waste Vashon and the Vashon Makerspace/Tool Library/Fix-it Café proposed the following actions.

  • Assure producers are financially responsible for the lifecycle of their products and comply with minimum recycled content criteria. The Enhanced Producer Responsibility bill (see the WRAP act, HB 2049) shifts the responsibility of recycling from the consumer to the producer; and
  • Assure consumers have the right to fix their own devices by expanding access to manufacturers’ parts, tools, and information.

Motion 4 was proposed by Solutionary Rail, a project of Vashon’s Backbone Campaign, in coalition with other rail advocacy groups forming the Rail Can’t Wait Campaign. The six priority items are:

  • Redirect Climate Commitment Act funds for rail projects implemented by 2030-2035;
  • Revise the rail curve over I-5 near Dupont and build the 110 mph track for Amtrak Cascades;
  • Plan for barge replacement on the Lower Snake River in southeast Washington with a benefit cost analysis of short line rail between Pasco and Roslyn due in December 2024;
  • Revive passenger rail service from Seattle and Auburn to Ellensburg, Yakima, Tri-Cities, and Spokane;
  • Electrify rail yards; and
  • Enhance Washington State’s rail planning and management capacity by creating a dedicated Rail Office and Rail Advisory Group.

If you have ideas to improve our environment and heal the planet, I urge you to attend one of the monthly V-MCC meetings and propose them. The four motions are only a portion of the nine identified at this time.

The process is simple: propose and discuss a motion one month, and the motion is presented for a vote the following month. It is helpful to have your ideas summarized in a short paragraph with supporting resources and detailed back-up materials to share.

And if you would like to streamline taking action to support or oppose legislation making its way through the legislative process, you can join the Take Action Network (TAN) here.

Steve Bergman is a geologist, Zero Waste Vashon board member and Whole Vashon Project advisor.