Legislature Connects Dots Between Rural Economic Development, Environmental Outcomes

The environmental headlines of this past legislative session have focused on two big topics: orca whales and carbon emissions. The 2019 Legislature passed numerous high-profile bills to address these two seemingly disparate issues. E3SHB 1324 progressed well below the radar yet manages to marry both issues in a package that also helps secure Washington’s most extensive rural manufacturing base for years to come.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Mike Chapman (D-Port Angeles) and Jacquelin Maycumber (R-Republic), provides continued and increased funding for the adaptive management program at the Department of Natural Resources through the year 2045. This program ensures that the protective standards of the state’s forest practices are based on the most current and accurate science. This is great news for salmon and orca recovery! The bill also provides a preferential tax rate for the manufactures of mass timber, an innovative new structural building material that allows for long-term carbon storage in our built environment. This is great news for carbon reduction! Finally, the bill provides economic certainly by delaying the expiration date of a preferential tax rate for forest products manufacturers. This is great news for rural economic development!

Said Jason Callahan, Director of Government Relations at the Washington Forest Protection Association:

“This is a very exciting bill. It’s rewarding to work with legislators on policies that are good for the environment and the economy. E3SHB 1324 artfully recognizes the connection between rural economies and environmental stewardship by:

  • Securing funding for one of the state’s most successful salmon recovery programs until 2045
  • Helping to unleash Washington’s forest products to reduce carbon in the atmosphere
  • Incentivizing investments in rural manufacturing and keeping working lands working

E2SHB is an example of sustainable policy development that will continue to deliver results long after the careers of anyone who helped develop it are over.”

Forest landowners have always known that policies that support working forests are a key link that connects favorable environmental outcomes with robust rural economic development.  Twenty years after the historic passage of the Forests and Fish Law codified this connection, the 2019 Legislature underscored that link by passing the forward-looking E3SHB 1324.

“It took a team approach to get this policy through,” Callahan added. “The WFPA worked closely with the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Forterra, the American Forest Resources Council and the Department of Natural Resources to navigate the bill through to the end.”

This bill will not play a starring role in news releases about legislative progress in orca recovery and carbon reductions, but thanks to the bipartisan leadership and vision of Reps. Maycumber and Chapman, it will have a long-lasting impact on both efforts.