Sea Level Rise Planning Now UPDATE (Jan 21): HB 1099 passed the House, with 57 in favor and 41 in opposition.

RENEW Act UPDATE (Jan 20): We had over 630 people sign in Pro for the RENEW Act during the Jan 18th hearing!

January 10th marks the start of the annual legislative session in Olympia. This being an even numbered year means that it’s a “short” session of 60 days (as opposed to an odd numbered year when session is 105 days long). With a shorter amount of time, things will either move really quickly or be tabled for further consideration next year. Surfrider Foundation Washington Chapters will focus their engagement and advocacy around a limited number of bills that relate to the protection and enjoyment of Washington’s ocean, waves, and beaches, for all people. Below is a brief overview of the priorities we will be focusing on this year and ways that you can get engaged. As a friendly reminder, a great place to start is to find your legislators, sign up for their email newsletters, and look for upcoming ways to connect with them via town hall meetings, etc.

Surfrider Foundation in Washington is also a member of the Washington Environmental Priorities Coalition. The Environmental Priorities Coalition is made up of more than 20 statewide organizations working to safeguard our environment and the health of our communities in the legislature. Every year, the Coalition comes together to select priorities to advance during the legislative session – check out the 2022 priorities.

Every year, volunteers and activists from member groups of the Washington Environmental Priorities Coalition convene in Olympia to participate in Washington’s Environmental Lobby Day, during which we advocate for statewide policies that benefit our environment and our communities. This year’s Environmental Lobby Day is virtual, and is scheduled for January 25 – 27. You can sign up for alerts and updates on how to get involved by filling out this form, read more about the Environmental Priorities Coalition 2022 priority bills here, and sign up for their January 20th training workshop here. You find the above links and so much more by visiting the shiny new Environmental Lobby Day website!

With all of the committee hearings happening virtually again this year due to the ongoing pandemic, it offers easy access from your home computer so you don’t have to spend your entire day driving to and from Olympia. Pictured here are WA Chapters leaders and staff in a constituent meeting with US Representative Derek Kilmer.

Our Agenda for 2022

Below is a brief overview of each issue that we are actively supporting, along with one pagers for additional information. We will update this post frequently to with where the bill stands in the process, along with direct ways to help support when the time is right.


Washington Can’t Wait: Sea Level Rise Planning Now!

HB 1099 will incorporate more robust climate change elements and goals into our state’s Growth Management Act:

  • Requires the largest and fastest growing counties and cities to choose from a list of actions developed by the Department of Commerce to reduce their vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions to meet state goals for reduction
  • Requires all counties and cities planning under the Growth Management Act to plan to address the impact of climate hazards on people, property and ecological systems, including planning for future sea level rise and increasing storm severity
  • Includes a definition of environmental justice in the GMA and stipulates that our land use planning should work to achieve environmental justice and not worsen existing environmental health disparities. 

Our partners at Futurewise are spearheading efforts to pass HB1099 – for more information on how you can take action, head to their legislative updates page!

Vulnerable infrastructure, Grays Harbor County. Photo by Gus Gates, aerial support provided by LightHawk.

All across Washington, plastic waste pollutes our shorelines and waterways, filling landfills to capacity, and harming wildlife. Our recycling system needs to be modernized so that packaging can actually be recycled, composted, or reused. The Renew Recycling Act addresses this waste by creating a set of graduated fees on packaging manufacturers based on how readily reusable, compostable, or recyclable their products are. These fees will be used to fund improvements in infrastructure, uniform access for residents across the state, and a clear list of what people can recycle. It also has the added benefit of shifting recycling costs away from ratepayers and onto the manufacturers.

When we implement more robust plastic pollution laws and improve our recycling systems, we see fewer and fewer of these unnecessary items on our beach cleanups

Kelp & Eelgrass Conservation (HB 1661/SB 5619)

Goal: To conserve and restore at least 10,000 acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows by 2040.

Kelp forests and eelgrass meadows are diverse and productive nearshore ecosystems, providing critical habitat for a wide array of marine life, including threatened and endangered species such as salmon, rockfish, and abalone. These marine forests and meadows play an important role in climate mitigation and adaptation by sequestering carbon and reducing ocean acidification. In addition to these ecological benefits, kelp and eelgrass have important cultural value to Northwest Tribal Nations, playing a prominent role in traditional fishing, hunting, and food preparation and storage.

As the steward of these vital nearshore habitats, the Department of Natural Resources has been tracking long-term trends of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows and has identified areas of concerning losses for both habitats. In particular, bull kelp in South and Central Puget Sound regions declined by more than 90% in the last 150 years, according to recent analyses. Eelgrass meadows in the San Juan Islands have seen severe declines as well in just the last 20 years. Changes in the abundance or distribution of these habitats likely reflect changes in environmental conditions and will require collective action across partnering agencies, Tribes, organizations, and communities to support future ecosystem health.

Bluegreen waters press right up to the treeline during a king tide on the Olympia Coast
An aerial image of a king tide and kelp forests on the Olympic Coast.