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Surfrider Washington's 2023 Legislative Priorities

Tis that time of year again! Legislative session kicked off on Monday, January 9th, and things are already ramping up! This year, we have four active campaigns - two focused on fighting for source reduction on plastic pollution, and two focused on increasing coastal resilience.

For updates on where these bills are, check out our Legislative Landing Page for current information on ways you can take action!

Plastic Pollution

1. The WRAP Act

The Washington Recycling And Packaging Act (WRAP) - HB 1131 / SB 5154 - is a massive bill that will overhaul how we manage waste here in Washington. The meat of the bill is all about implementing Extended Producer Responsibility, which essentially makes the producers of wasteful packaging pay for the end of life of that packaging. Currently, those costs fall on cities and counties, who must pass some of those costs onto us, the consumers, who never wanted many of these products in the first place!

2. The Trifecta Plastics Bill

Don't let it's generic bill name fool you - HB 1085, a "bill to reduce plastic pollution," tackles a diverse set of plastic problems, ranging from hotel mini-toiletries, to single-use water bottles, to foam docks! If passed, the bill will:

1) Phase out plastic mini-toiletries in lodging establishments (to be replaced with refillable shampoos, conditioners, etc)
2) Require bottle refill stations installed with drinking fountains in new buildings
3) Ban the installation of new foam docks, which when damaged, leak toxic foam particles into our waterways

For more info, check out our HB 1085 Fact Sheet

Coast & Climate

Westhaven State Park, Half Moon Bay & the Westport Marina are all vulnerable to sea level rise and increasing storm severity. Photo credit: Gus Gates, aerial support provided by LightHawk.

3. Sea Level Rise Planning Now!

The seas are rising, and we want to ensure that Washington is planning for it. That starts with reducing emissions and slowing the pace of climate change, as well as making sure our vulnerable communities are using the best available data to inform decisions on how best to adapt to climate change hazards, including rising seas and more severe storms.

Our partners at Futurewise are continuing with their Washington Can't Wait campaign from last year by pushing for HB 1181 / SB 5203 would do both of those things.

This bill mandates climate planning in the Growth Management Act, something we desperately need. It will require every city and county in the state to start planning for climate hazards, and will mandate that the eight largest counties reduce their transportation emissions (our state's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions).

Did you know? Research shows that for every dollar we spend planning for climate change, we get $5-8 dollars return on our investment. The old adage, "An ounce of cure is worth a pound of pain" doesn't even begin to describe the value we get on planning ahead for the changes to come.

4. Invest in Coastal Resiliency

For years, we've been leveraging our seat on the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council (WCMAC) to advocate for investments in coastal resilience and adaptation. Our coastline is particularly vulnerable to threat from erosion, sea level rise, and tsunamis, and many of our coastal communities and Tribes lack the resources and capacity to ensure their safety and resiliency. In 2021, WCMAC sent a series of recommendations to the Governor's Office on how we to create the organizational infrastructure necessary to implement resiliency projects. But these things cost money. The Dept. of Ecology has requested a Coastal Climate Hazards Budget Package that would fund three critical WCMAC recommendations:

  1. Expand the Coastal Monitoring and Analysis Program (CMAP): This program collects the data we need to understand erosion and flood risk along our coast. All these publicly available data are used by local and tribal governments to inform decision making, perform vulnerability assessments, and develop and implement risk reduction projects. Current funding levels allow allow for smaller projects in only a few locations. This funding would allow Ecology to hire the staff needed to provide support to vulnerable communities across the state.
  2. Establish a COHORT (Coastal Hazard Organizational Resilience Team): A small team of dedicated staff from various agencies who are well-positioned to support communities, streamline projects, reduce competition for grants, and generally tackle this huge problem in a regionally coordinated and efficient way.
  3. Increase local staffing capacity for resiliency work: Too often, Tribes and small communities lack the funding for dedicated planners and project coordinators for this work. Identifying funding mechanisms to support local staff is essential for enabling communities to implement solutions.

For more information, check out our earlier post on addressing coastal hazards and economic resilience on Washington's coast

Stay tuned for ways you can get involved, make an impact, and push for important progress on a statewide level!