March 2020

It has been less than two weeks since the 2020 legislative session came to a close, and yet it suddenly seems like a distant past. In that short time, the rhythms and realities of daily life have been altered in ways most of us have never experienced, and we are all left wondering what tomorrow will bring and worrying about loved ones with whom we cannot be right now. In this time of unease and uncertainty, we hope that those of you who can are staying home and staying safe. To those of you on the front lines of this crisis, working hard to keep the rest of us safe, healthy, and fed, we extend our sincerest gratitude to you and best wishes for your health and safety.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed not only our present circumstances, but also the way we think about the future and our role in addressing the new challenges it presents. It is going to take bold, decisive action to ensure that all Washington communities recover from this crisis and emerge from it more resilient to future shocks and disruptions to our economy and way of life. Carbon WA is committed to being a part of that process, and as we prepare for that work, we are staying connected to our communities and partners and supporting their immediate needs.

As part of our Sustainable Farms & Fields campaign, we have spent the past year working with farmers from the peninsula to the palouse. Now, with restaurants and farmers markets closing across the state, Washington farmers need new ways to reach customers and generate revenue as the growing season approaches. You can support them by signing up for a CSA, to get healthy, farm-fresh products delivered to your door all season long. By investing in this service now, you can provide farmers with immediate economic relief while minimizing your own trips to the grocery store. And, if you’re able, you can support those who are hardest hit by this crisis by donating to the Good Farmer Fund.

We are so grateful for the support of WA farmers in our work, and for the work they do every day to keep our communities and our land healthy. If you can, please join us now in supporting them.

While we are still unsure of what the future holds, we can acknowledge that this is going to be difficult and commit to working together to face it. You have our commitment that Carbon WA will be here to do just that. Thank you for all you do and for your continued support of our work.

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The new grant program will fund carbon sequestration practices in the agricultural community aimed at combating climate change.

Seattle, Washington, March 19, 2020 – With broad, bipartisan support, last week, the Washington State legislature passed Sustainable Farms & Fields (SB 5947). This bill creates a voluntary grant program to support farmers in the implementation of practices that increase the quantity of carbon stored in the land through efficient carbon-reduction and sequestration practices. The bill’s passage marks a significant victory during a short session wherein legislators struggled to find consensus on other much-needed climate legislation.

Initially introduced to the legislature in 2019, Sustainable Farms & Fields is the product of more than twelve months of stakeholder engagement and policy revisions. It is a testament to the legislative process and the potential for greater bipartisan collaboration in ensuring Washington remains a leader in both climate action and agricultural production and innovation. The program has been seeded with $225,000 to create an organizational structure and develop metrics for project evaluation and the grant selection process.

“We are so grateful for all the hard work and collaboration that went into shaping this bill,” said Jessie Martin, the newly appointed executive director of Carbon Washington. “Passing the bill is a great first step, but there is much more work to do to make sure the program is a success and to support Washington farmers at the scale that is needed to see real climate impacts as well as benefits to their bottom lines.”

The bill was supported at its final public hearing by leading agricultural commodity groups, including theWashington branches of the Farm Bureau, Dairy Federation, Wheat Growers Association, Cattleman’s Association, and Potato Commission. The bill was also backed by a coalition of more than 100 farms, food system stakeholders, and environmental/conservation organizations from across the state. Carbon Washington is already working with these partners, as well as others, to expand the program and increase funding in the 2021 legislative budget.

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On Tuesday, March 10, the Sustainable Farms and Fields bill (SB 5947) passed the Washington State legislature! The Senate accepted the amendments that were made in the House with an overwhelming bipartisan majority (63-6).

We are thrilled that many stakeholders in the agriculture sector came to the table to improve the bill and provide resources that farmers need to lead on climate. The collaborative efforts that led to the passage of Sustainable Farms and Fields is a powerful example of the type of state-wide engagement that is possible and needed to move Washington State to net zero emissions.

We are grateful for the partnership of the 115 farms and organizations that signed onto the letter of support for the Sustainable Farms & Fields grant program. Click on the following links to find out more about a few of these farms: Spoon Full Farm, Living Heritage Farms, and Klickitat Canyon Winery. Thank you to all of you for connecting us to farmers in your network and amplifying farmers’ voices by continuing to contact your legislators. Your calls and emails make a difference!

We want to specifically recognize the incredible efforts of volunteers like Melinda McBride, Pauline Druffel, Pat Rasmussen, Warren Neth, and the Carbon Washington advocacy team. Megan Conaway, Cecilia Mirabile, and Matt Stidham promoted grassroots action. Jim Baird, Penny Dex, Jake Stewart, Warren Shoemaker, Lisa Hasselman, Joel Hansen, Steve Ghan, Margaret Homerding, Melissa Spear, and Phyllis Farrell made the trip to Olympia to give powerful testimony at the public hearing. Organizational partners worked to improve the bill and advocate for its passage, including Audubon Washington, The Nature Conservancy, Washington State Farm Bureau, Washington State Dairy Federation, Washington Young Farmers Coalition, Tilth Alliance, Northwest Farmers Union, Faith Action Network, and many others. Thank you! (more…)

By William Pennell and Doug Ray
Published in the Tri-City Herald on Feb. 16, 2020

Bill Pennell is a former director of the Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Research Division at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. In addition to his research, he has served as a scientific advisor to the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. Doug Ray is Chair, Board of Directors of Carbon Washington, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to net-zero carbon emissions in Washington State. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

It has been known for well over a century that human activities resulting in the emissions of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and others) to the atmosphere have the potential for disrupting the Earth’s climate system. But until the latter part of the 20th century, such concerns were largely academic. The magnitude of the emissions and their contribution to the overall chemistry of the atmosphere were too small to be of consequence.

But by the 1970s and ‘80s, this situation was changing. Evidence began to accumulate that not only was the chemistry of the atmosphere being affected by human activities, but that the Earth’s climate was changing as well. (more…)