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Recent reports indicate that a toxic flame retardant is showing up in our environment with increasing frequency. It’s even been found in our salmon. We are already moving to address this issue. Last December, I signed an executive order directing the Department of Ecology to develop a plan for the reduction in use of this chemical, and its eventual phase-out. A draft of this plan is due later this year.
Washington is also one of the first states to tackle other long-lasting toxic chemicals that build up in the food chain. Earlier this year, I signed two orders to step up our efforts against such toxic chemicals. These orders call for action planning for known toxic chemicals, identification of other toxins, and strengthening state government measures to reduce toxins in our own operations. We were also the first state to enact a law controlling metals in fertilizers.
A recent report from the Department of Ecology shows that since 1996, there has been a 46 percent reduction in the release of toxic chemicals in our state. This reduction is due in large part to the hard work of our agencies, both state and local, to work with business to reduce the release of toxic substances.
|Quote of the Week
“Everyone should care about the condition of our planet, and how we leave it for our children. Future generations deserve to enjoy the same natural beauty and precious natural resources that we enjoy.”
—Governor Locke, August 12, 2004
Our other efforts to protect our environment have included stronger pipeline safety laws, with more stringent and effective inspection requirements.
This year we took a huge step in solving our state's number one water quality problem, stormwater runoff. The new law I signed a few months ago provides new tools for preventing pollution from entering our waters through runoff.
I have also directed state agencies to explore how we can improve our management of septic systems around the state. We have been working with the State Board of Health to improve state rules for on-site septic systems to reduce pollution from these sources.
We continue the fight against air pollution and global warming. Last year we joined with California and Oregon to initiate a unified regional approach to global warming. Joint policy recommendations are due this fall.
Here in Washington, we’re attacking the problem already. This spring I signed into law a bill requiring power plants to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions by investing in CO2 mitigation projects. Such projects include forest preservation and the conversion of buses from diesel power to natural gas. These requirements are the strongest in the nation for new power plants. These clear, tough standards will decrease CO2 emissions that lead to global warming.
We have also improved building codes to reduce residential natural gas consumption by half over the next 15 years—and reduce global warming emissions by 300,000 metric tons a year. And our emissions check program reduced vehicle emissions by nearly 300,000 tons in 1997 and 1998.
We’re promoting renewable energy to cut down on our dependence on fossil fuels. We’re exploring opportunities for state agencies to increase the fuel efficiency of their automobile fleets in the near term. Last year, we purchased more than 300 hybrid vehicles with low emissions and high fuel efficiency.
We are improving energy efficiency in our schools, universities and colleges, and public buildings. We’re working hard to meet green building standards. And we’re exploring opportunities to use alternative fuels like biodiesel in vehicles and buildings.
We have made progress in reducing mercury pollution through consumer education, improved recycling and disposal programs, and cooperative agreements with specific industries.
Fluorescent lamps are a significant source of mercury pollution. Seventy-five percent of spent fluorescent lamps are currently thrown away and go into landfills. This releases mercury into the air and adds to the mercury load in our environment. This year I directed state agencies and institutions to recycle all fluorescent lamps and bulbs.
We are working hard to protect and preserve the environment. Let's recognize that much more must be done, and let's continue to move forward to make sure our environment remains healthy for future generations.Sincerely,
Defending Our Bases
The Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development recently awarded grants to five communities to fund educational and informational activities in preparation for the Department of Defense's Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process in 2005. The awards were made from state funds allocated by the 2004 Legislature to support local response to the federal base realignment and closure process. “These grants enable our communities to gather and present information about the importance of their bases to the defense of the nation,” Governor Locke said. “They also help them to show the support the bases receive from the state and the surrounding community. I'm confident that when the Department of Defense reviews the facts, it will realize that our bases are a tremendous national asset.” Grants were given to cities or community organizations in Tacoma, Spokane, Oak Harbor, Everett and Kitsap County.
Providing Kids With Dental Care
The University of Washington's School of Dentistry has a new focus on preventing early childhood dental disease. The school is introducing a new course for dental students aimed at building the skills needed to care for very young children. The coursework will be directly applicable to a program called “ABCD” (Access to Baby and Child Dentistry). This program is cosponsored around the state by UW, the Washington Dental Service Foundation, local county dental societies, local public health jurisdictions and the state Medicaid program. The goal of ABCD is to expand access for children insured by the state's Medicaid program. Started nine years ago in Spokane, ABCD programs now operate in 21 of Washington's 39 counties. Studies show that children enrolled in ABCD have a significantly lower risk for oral disease.
Supporting Crime Victims
An increasing number of child sexual assault victims are being served through funding provided by CTED's Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA). Statistics showed OCVA helped more than 9,300 victims of sexual assault this fiscal year. Sixty-five percent of the 9,344 new clients were children, up slightly from 64 percent a year before. Eighty-four percent of those new clients were female, which is a percentage that has held steady for the past three years. OCVA uses accredited community sexual assault programs to provide access for every sexual assault victim in Washington state.
Success Story: Lottery Continues Excellence
For the 14th consecutive year, the Washington Lottery has been awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA). The prestigious national award is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. In 1990, the Washington Lottery became the first lottery in the nation to receive the award. The Lottery has also received the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting from the GFOA for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2003. This is the sixth consecutive year the Lottery has received this award.
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