By Alexandria Osborne
Washington State Journal 

Legislature passes multiple environmental bills in time for Earth Day


Last updated 4/26/2023 at 9:42am

Legislators celebrated Earth Day with the passage of environmental bills in the final hours of the legislative session.

The package creates new laws that regulate the use of foam blocks for docks, govern production of hydrogen to power buses, provide for the study of carbon monoxide and places new restrictions on battery sales.

Substitute House Bill 1085, by Rep. Sharlett Mena, D-Tacoma, prohibits the sale and distribution of expanded foam blocks and floats used in overwater structures, unless the foam is contained in a shell of concrete, aluminum or plastic.

Floating homes and residences are excluded from the restrictions under the bill. Floats, docks and accessory overwater structures associated with floating homes or residences will be subject to the restrictions, beginning Jan. 1, 2024.

The bill requires any building with a drinking fountain to have a water bottle filling station as well, beginning July 1, 2026, with potential updates.

“This bill will help protect and preserve our marine ecosystems and reduce the massive amounts of plastic waste that our society creates,” Mena said. “It is often said that kids are our future, but it is our responsibility to them to have a clean and prosperous future.”

The bill was signed by the governor on April 20.

Substitute House Bill 1236, by Rep. David Hackney, D-Tukwila, allows public transit agencies to produce and distribute green electrolytic hydrogen and renewable hydrogen.

Green electrolytic hydrogen is produced through electrolysis and comes from renewable sources such as wind or water.

Public transportation agencies can sell green electric hydrogen and renewable hydrogen to facilities that distribute, store or dispense these types of hydrogen for transportation fuel under the bill. The bill has passed the Legislature and has been delivered to the governor.

Substitute House Bill 1779, by Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, requires the Department of Health to establish an interagency carbon monoxide workgroup including representatives from the Department of Ecology, Washington State Patrol and Office of the Attorney General.

The workgroup is required to create a report on current and future state activities preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, increasing awareness throughout at-risk communities, collecting data from incidents and identifying sources for funding awareness campaigns.

The report is required to be submitted to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2024, and needs to include recommendations on how to reduce carbon monoxide poisoning in Washington. The bill has passed the Legislature and was delivered to the governor’s desk.

Senate Bill 5104, by Sen. Jesse Salomon, D-Shoreline, requires the Department of Ecology to conduct a baseline survey of Puget Sound marine shorelines.

The survey would use technology to capture aerial and 360 degree on-the-water images, which need to be publicly available by Dec. 31, 2024.

A survey documenting and mapping existing shoreline conditions, structures and structure conditions must be conducted and completed by June 30, 2025.

Both surveys will be required to be updated in a two-year cycle. The information from the surveys needs to be publicly available and also needs to be incorporated into state geographic information system mapping.

“Washington is one of the most beautiful states in our nation, and we need to do everything we can to protect our ecosystems,” Salomon said. “An accurate and up-to-date shoreline survey will help us determine how to prioritize protection and restoration of our shorelines.” SB 5104 is on the governor’s desk.

Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5144, by Sen. Derek Stanford, D-Bothell, requires producers selling covered batteries or battery-containing products in Washington to participate in an approved battery stewardship plan by participating in a battery stewardship organization, beginning Jan. 1, 2027.

Producers that do not participate cannot sell or distribute covered batteries or battery-containing products in the state of Washington.

Batteries covered are usually considered “medium format.” For instance, batteries weighing less than 25 pounds or rated at less than 2,000-watt hours are included in the Legislation. Vehicle batteries are not included in the new law if they are covered by a specific recycling program.

By Jan. 1, 2030, batteries would need to be marked with labeling to ensure proper recycling as well. The labels need to identify the battery’s chemistry and an indication that it should not be disposed of with household waste.

Retailers will be prohibited from selling and distributing unmarked batteries beginning July 1, 2027, for portable batteries and beginning July 1, 2029, for medium format batteries.

“We know that the use of batteries will continue to increase and it’s urgent we take action to ensure these products containing hazardous materials don’t continue to pile up in our landfills or other places they can cause health and safety concerns,” Stanford said.

SB 5144 awaits the governor’s signature.


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