It’s Earth Action Week! And, if it wasn’t clear before, it’s becoming all the more obvious that there are many different actions we can all take to care for our natural world as well as each other—all of which feels especially urgent during the current pandemic.
One critically important, collective action is supporting strong policies that protect clean air, clean water and the wildlife we all love. At the Seattle Aquarium, we continue to raise our voice on many important policy issues. Join us as we look back at what we did during the 2020 Washington state legislative session to advocate for science-based measures to protect our marine environment.
WINS FOR A HEALTHY OCEAN
We worked closely with partners to pass the Reusable Bag Bill, with bipartisan support! This builds on 37 local bag ordinances in Washington and is a critical step in protecting marine wildlife. We thank Senator Das and Representative Peterson for sponsoring this bill and working so hard to get it passed.
We also made strides in the fight against climate change. The Seattle Aquarium worked alongside Environmental Priorities Coalition partners to help pass the climate pollution limits bill, which updates Washington state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals to reflect the latest science. By 2050 the state aims to be 95% below our 1990 emissions level.
Work on “Healthy Habitats, Healthy Orcas” resulted in a budget directive to move things forward. A group of experts will come together to shape a plan for a “net ecological gain” standard to protect salmon and reverse the trend of habitat loss in our region.
What did the Seattle Aquarium do? We went to Olympia in January with nine of our Youth Ocean Advocates, who met with legislators and helped build support for the Reusable Bag Bill! We were involved in the drafting of bills and we testified in support of bills when they came up for hearings. And we want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who participated in our action alerts. Demonstrations of constituent support really help get bills passed!
The Styrofoam ban did not pass this year. We had constructive conversations and helped the bill gain an incredible amount of momentum. It’s important to reduce Styrofoam use because it’s so lightweight that it’s frequently blown from disposal sites and travels easily through gutters and storm drains and into the ocean. We’re ready to help get a Styrofoam ban across the finish line next year!
Requiring recycled content in plastic bottles will also need to be revisited in the future. We worked hard to pass a bill requiring that beverage containers sold into Washington state have minimum post-consumer recycled plastic content, tiered up each five years, up to at least 50% by 2030. Unfortunately, this bill had implementation costs associated with it, and Governor Inslee had to veto it—along with more than 140 other expenditure items—because of the growing fiscal threat posed by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. We will work with partners to bring this bill back in a future legislative session, as it will help build a market for recycled plastic and keep more bottles out of the landfill and ocean.
The Senate failed to pass the Clean Fuel Standard. The update of the state’s greenhouse gas limits will only lead to change if we have the tools to achieve those targets. Transportation is responsible for nearly half of our climate and air pollution in Washington, and our state is the only one on the West Coast without a clean fuel standard. We will continue to work with our partners to push for meaningful climate action.
SUPPORT EMERGENCY FUNDS FOR THE AQUARIUM
The coronavirus crisis has impacted many people, businesses and nonprofits across our community. Like other sectors of the economy, aquariums and zoos are facing significant hardships in the face of COVID-19. We’ve all had to reduce operations and make difficult staffing decisions while facing the unique challenge of retaining sufficient staff and supplies to care for our animals. This will further strain budgets at a time when guests are not coming through our respective doors.
Federal policymakers need to hear directly from you about the need to include aquariums and zoos, as well as museums and similar entities, in COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus packages.
Please contact Congress to express your support for assistance for zoos, aquariums and museums in economic stimulus legislation.