Sound Status Update — February 2018

By Melissa Malott, Executive Director

Hey folks,

What a month February has been! We hosted our first ever Equity Happy Hour, submitted public comments to advocate for a better oil spill contingency plan from U.S. Oil, and submitted recommendations for a stronger stormwater permit for Targa Sound Terminal.

Heading into March, we’re excited about the Tacoma Roots Summit on March 8th, where people can connect with other folks who value equity and the environment. Also, don’t forget that Citizens for a Healthy Bay’s biggest fundraiser, Cheers to a Healthy Bay, is coming up on April 21st. We expect a sold-out crowd, so be sure to grab your tickets now!

Oil Spill Prevention Act Passes in the State Senate

This past Saturday in Olympia, the Senate passed 2SSB 6269, the Oil Spill Prevention Act. This is a big step forward and it helps ensure the state has resources to prevent and prepare for an oil spill. The bill closes an unfair tax loophole for oil arriving by pipelines, which is the method of transporting nearly 40% of the oil in Washington state. More importantly, 2SSB 626B takes action to guard against oil spills and protect the Puget Sound, our communities, our marine economies, and cherished wildlife such as orcas, salmon, and birds.

With the bill passage in the Senate, we now must turn our focus to the House. There is now less than a week left during this session and your voice is critical to our success.  Please take a moment to urge your Representatives to support this bill and join the chorus of local leaders who support protecting our waterways, communities and cultures, and wildlife from dangerous and damaging oil spills.

If you want to know more about why we need to implement more protections against oil spills, read the op-ed by our Bay Patrol Manager, Sam Kulla.

A Report From the First Equity Happy Hour

By Kenny Coble, Environmental Justice Project Manager

A few of our staff members were talking to a friend from the Puyallup Watershed Initiative about how nice it would be to get together with other folks in Pierce County who prioritize equity in the work they do. That’s how we came up with the idea to do Equity Happy Hour. In our minds, the Equity Happy Hour was an experiment; we didn’t put a ton of work into planning it, we just knew we wanted to get a few friends together for support, to share ideas, and dream up collaborations. We created an event page on Facebook, invited a few people, and let it be.

It turned out that we underestimated just how many people in Tacoma and Pierce County wanted a place to talk about issues surrounding equity. We thought maybe six or seven friends would join us. Instead, there were sixty or seventy people, maybe more. There were so many people we had never met—all because people were intrigued by the idea and shared the event with their friends on Facebook. Everyone had a great time. We heard conversations about environmental justice, affordable housing, education, human rights, and so many more. We watched strangers become friends, we watched these new friends come up with grand plans to show up to city council meetings or share resources or to team up to make sure everyone in our community is treated equitably and given every opportunity to thrive. This is everything we hoped for and more. So, see you at our next Equity Happy Hour?

Save Your Seat and Support Our Sound at This Year’s Cheers to a Healthy Bay!

Tickets to this year’s Cheers to a Healthy Bay Dinner & Auction are now on sale. We expect a sold-out crowd, so make sure you save your seat for Tacoma’s favorite fundraiser for Puget Sound! Buy your tickets today.

Cheers to a Healthy Bay
5:30 p.m.—10:30 p.m., Saturday, April 21.
Buy Tickets Today

Tacoma Roots Summit

We are so proud to be working with our friends at Tacoma Roots to organize the Tacoma Roots Summit coming up on March 8th. Tacoma Roots is an environmental justice organization, which believes the people most burdened by pollution (people of color and folks facing economic adversity) should have leadership and decision-making roles in environmentalism. This summit is their first big event and will be the perfect opportunity to connect with folks in Tacoma who prioritize equity and the environment. The event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP via Eventbrite: RSVP here.

Tacoma Roots Summit
March 8, 6:00—8:30pm
Evergreen State College, The Tacoma Campus
1210 6th Avenue, Tacoma, Washington 98405

Public Comments on U.S. Oil’s Oil Spill Contingency Plan

Citizens for a Healthy Bay is concerned with the inherent dangers that surround transporting oil by rail, vessel, and pipeline through our communities. We recently weighed in on the oil spill contingency plan for U.S. Oil & Refining Co. McChord Pipeline Co by submitting public comments stating that their plan is far from sufficient to adequately protect the surrounding environment and minimize economic damage from a potential pipeline leak and resulting oil spill. In our comments, we push for stronger and more efficient response requirements and faster timeframes for response, including more frequent inspection of U.S. Oil’s equipment, improved communication plans, and better protections for first responders. Read our public comments here.

Recommendations Regarding Targa Sound Terminal’s Stormwater Permit

One of Citizens for a Healthy Bay’s biggest strategic goals for 2018 is to reduce the amount of stormwater pollution that flows into Commencement Bay. Stormwater pollution is the number one source of toxic pollution in Puget Sound, and is a key factor in why our salmon populations are struggling. In collaboration with the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, CHB has submitted recommendations to the Washington Department of Ecology to strengthen the stormwater discharge permit for Targa Sound Terminal in the Tacoma Tideflats.

Targa has a history of non-compliance with nine permit violations and exceeding pollution limits of pollutants, such as copper and zinc, 46 times during their previous permit. We found that the current draft permit fell short of legal requirements to protect the Hylebos Waterway and Commencement Bay, and we’re advocating for a stronger permit, including immediate compliance with water quality standards instead of allowing Targa five years to comply with permit requirements, particularly due to the facility’s proximity to the Occidental Chemical Superfund contamination plume. Read our recommendations here.

Black Artists and Environmentalism

One of the myths in environmentalism is that black communities don’t care about the environment; this couldn’t be further from the truth. Rasheena Fountain writes about how black artists have been connected to and passionate about the environment for a long time. Make sure to check out her list of songs by black artists who are speaking up for the environment through their music.

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