Rep. Mary Dye introduces bills in support of Republican ORCA (Outdoor Recreation and Climate Adaptation) Plan

Rep. Mary Dye has introduced legislation as part of the House Republican ORCA (Outdoor Recreation and Climate Adaptation) Plan that provides a roadmap toward cleanup of Puget Sound, expands funding for outdoor recreation, addresses climate issues, and eliminates state parks fees, including the Discover Pass.

Dye says the ORCA Plan would use revenue from the state's new Climate Commitment Act (CCA), expected to be $4 billion over the next 10 years, to address serious problems of flooding, wildfires, drought, air quality, and wastewater pollution in Puget Sound.

“The ORCA Plan is a new vision for our state, funding real solutions to protect and improve Washington's environment. It wisely invests CCA dollars tin benefiting our environment and enhancing our ability to recreate sustainably in the outdoors as our population grows,” said Dye, R-Pomeroy, who serves as the ranking member of the House Environment and Energy Committee.

Dye has introduced three bills in support of the ORCA Plan:

  • House Bill 1822 – Improving Puget Sound water quality: The bill would direct nutrient discharge reduction activities to be expedited toward achieving clean water quality standards in the Puget Sound. This includes more accountability in the reporting untreated stormwater and sewage discharges into state waters. It would also establish the Office of Puget Sound Water Quality to provide technical assistance to local governments and municipal wastewater treatment system operators to reduce nutrient discharges into Puget Sound. A wastewater nutrient reduction account would be created for grant and loan opportunities to upgrade wastewater treatment facilities and other activities to reduce wastewater discharges in Puget Sound.

“Puget Sound is unhealthy. Decades of effort and funding have produced little progress toward benchmarks for recovery. Major municipal wastewater treatment plants are leaking millions of gallons of untreated sewage. Upgrading pollution controls is costly,” said Dye. “This legislation will direct CCA dollars into upgrading public sewage treatment facilities and provide grants for boatyard pollution controls.”

  • House Bill 1823 – Concerning environmental leadership through outdoor recreation and climate adaptation investments: The bill would require the transfer of $125 million each biennium into a special account for wildfire response, forest restoration, and community resilience. Part of the money will be directed toward grants and loans to small forest landowners for activities that increase carbon sequestration. It would also be used to advance the state's forestry riparian easement and the family forest fish passage programs and provide grants administered by the Community Economic Revitalization Board to help make timber and farming towns sustainable and vibrant. The measure also calls for funding to mitigate flood risks, provide drought resilience investments, including water supply projects to support the agricultural industry, invest in Puget Sound water quality pollution control upgrades, and direct money into supporting and expanding state and local outdoor recreation programs and local trail improvements.

“Washington has 2.7 million acres of unhealthy forests and a forest health action plan that has no dedicated funding source. Our legislation would use CCA revenue to fully fund the state forest health action plan and assist private landowners. We also set aside money for projects that secure a sustainable water supply to protect agriculture from drought,” said Dye. “It's been heartbreaking to watch the recent flooding and destruction of floodwaters in Whatcom, Skagit, Mason, and Lewis counties over the past month. This legislation would fund the strategies developed by existing flood authorities to reduce flood damage and improve aquatic habitat in areas most likely to flood.”

“Our state parks are in terrible shape with a huge maintenance backlog. Since 1990 as the state has grown by 2.7 million residents, only 28 new campsites have been added. Getting a campsite on short notice is almost impossible. But then the fees are so high that many people cannot afford to enjoy our state parks,” noted Dye. “This legislation lowers and eliminates fees, including the very unpopular Discover Pass, so that everyone, no matter their income level, can enjoy the parks and outdoor recreational opportunities across our state. Plus, we direct funding into cleaning up our parks and expanding trails for further outdoor enjoyment.”

Dye believes the ORCA Plan is a better and wiser plan for spending revenues derived from the state's new cap-and-trade tax revenues than the climate proposal announced by Gov. Jay Inslee on Dec. 13.

“The governor's proposal to decarbonize buildings, to get rid of the natural gas industry and retrain workers whose jobs would be eliminated from his policies would do nothing to reduce deadly, destructive wildfires and the smoke they emit. The governor's proposal to spend millions of dollars in rebates for electric vehicle purchases would do nothing to prevent flooding or address drought that threatens our farmers. The governor's proposal to electrify ferries fails to address cleanup of Puget Sound from wastewater spills that damage oyster beds. None of his proposals address the immediate and long-term impacts of climate change on our state,” said Dye.

“Ask the people in the flood zones around Chehalis or Sumas whether they would like the state to truly address the real and dangerous problem of flooding in their communities and on their properties, or whether they would like to be driving past the floodwaters in a new electric vehicle while their homes are being washed away. Ask the people in Okanogan County if they would like a brand new electric vehicle to escape wildfires destroying their homes. These are real threats to real people, and the governor's best solution is electric vehicle rebates,” noted Dye. “Our ORCA Plan takes a more thoughtful, robust, and common sense approach. It would provide solid solutions to directly protect our families and communities from these devastating impacts we can expect due to global carbon emissions.”

House Bill 1822 has been referred to the House Environment and Energy Committee. House Bill 1823 is in the House Appropriations Committee. And House Bill 1824 is awaiting consideration in the House Community and Economic Development Committee.

To learn more about the ORCA Plan, go here:

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov