Issue Position: Concern For Our Environment
With one of the richest, most diverse and beautiful landscapes in the world, we have an important legacy to protect. Governor Chris Gregoire believes the health of our environment must be protected as it is essential to our quality of life and to the strength of our economy. We all need clean air to breathe, water to drink, and irrigation to grow the crops we depend on. Washington is also home to a rich diversity of fish and wildlife species and the unique habitats upon which they depend.
Governor Gregoire also believes that while we protect our natural resources, we must promote fair and effective enforcement of Washington's environmental laws to ensure a level playing field for those who play by the rules. That's why her environmental agenda also improves our regulatory processes to make it easier to do business.
Cleaning up Puget Sound
Since taking office, Governor Gregoire has made significant progress for our air and land on both sides of the Cascades. In 2006, she created the Puget Sound Partnership, bringing together environmentalists, local government, sportsmen, tribal and business leaders to restore and preserve the health of Puget Sound. She won passage of a $52 million investment package to address the Sound's most critical short-term needs. As co-chair of the Partnership, she remains actively involved in its work to create a plan that will restore the Sound by 2020.
Governor Gregoire also signed legislation that requires health officials to identify and fix failing septic systems near the Puget Sound, protecting the health of both the marine area and the public. A new pilot program provides grants and loans to homeowners to repair and replace failing septic systems.
Mapping out our water future
Governor Gregoire ended the 25-year stalemate over Columbia River water management, taking significant steps towards adopting new water storage management programs while improving the river's ecosystem. One-third of all newly stored water will be allocated to support stream flows for fish. Two-thirds of newly stored water will be available for new out-of-stream uses, such as farming, industry and municipal growth.
Holding the federal government to its promises
The timely and thorough cleanup of the Hanford site is essential to preserving the health of the Columbia River and its salmon runs, the most important in the Pacific Northwest. Governor Gregoire's efforts to clean up Hanford began over 17 years ago when, as director of the Washington State Department of Ecology, she successfully negotiated the Tri-Party Agreement, a legally binding contract that ensures federal commitment to the Hanford cleanup project.
Governor Gregoire continues to pursue consistent federal funding as mandated by the Tri-Party Agreement. She works with our Congressional delegation to put pressure on the Bush Administration to uphold its commitment to the people of Washington State and keep the necessary and promised funding in the federal budget. Cleanup must proceed before irreversible environmental damage is done and to protect the economic livelihoods and health of citizens in the region.
President Bush's repeal of the 2001 Roadless Rule threatens over 700,000 acres of our pristine forests. Governor Gregoire, after collaborative efforts were rejected, joined Oregon, New Mexico, and California in a lawsuit to force the Bush administration to honor the Roadless Rule that Washingtonians from all walks of life have repeatedly and overwhelming supported.
Making Washington's parks accessible
Governor Gregoire has taken several steps to improve state parks and make them more accessible to recreational users. She signed a state budget that abolished parking fees at state parks, and provided more funding to keep the parks system clean and fully functioning. Outdoor enthusiasts and communities who rely on recreation and eco-tourism for their economies treasure Washington parks and forests.
Fighting for clean air today, a sustainable climate tomorrow
In 2005, Governor Gregoire signed the Clean Car Bill and Washington joined seven other states enacting the strong emission standards for automobiles, to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that pollute our air and cause global warming. Washington also became the first state in the nation to adopt mandatory green building standards for all new public buildings, requiring them to meet high standards of energy efficiency, water conservation, and other environmental protection measures. Green buildings are good for the environment and lower energy costs saving tax dollars.
Governor Gregoire is a strong proponent of alternative energy and energy conservation, which she believes can improve our environment, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and encourage development of a clean energy economy.
Forest and Fish Project
Governor Gregoire supports the goals and worked to secure money to implement the Forest and Fish project, which is a key element in the Washington's salmon recovery strategy. It provides enhanced protection of water quality and fish habitat along 60,000 miles of streams across 9.3 million acres of state and private forest lands. Forest and Fish also incorporates a rigorous, science-based adaptive management process.
This effort ensures the state forest regulations are consistent with federal laws including the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. Once again our Washington leads the waywith a farsighted, bold, and science-based approach to save our salmon, ensure clean, fresh water, and protect our Northwest culture and timber economy.
The health of our salmon populations reflects the health of our water and air. They are an indicator species for the health of the state's environment. Governor Gregoire is proud of the way this state, and particularly local citizens, have responded to the challenge of recovering salmon. The real work now begins as we implement the plans we have developed, translating them into real actions with real results. The key to our success has been and must be collaboration. In this way, we can integrate economic and environmental concerns and engender a new kind of prosperity for our state, one that enriches today without impoverishing tomorrow.
Moving Washington Forward
Washington is well positioned to be the national leader in creating positive environmental solutions, promoting businesses that create clean energy, and developing products that don't pollute our air and water.