Just days after its introduction, a Carbon Washington-backed bill promoting sustainable farming has accumulated a powerful and bipartisan list of sponsors in the Legislature. Senate Bill 5947, the Sustainable Farms and Fields Grants bill provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers that adopt changes in management practices that reduce fossil fuel inputs and increase the quantity of carbon stored on their land.
Introduced in both chambers with Democratic and Republican backing on Feb. 15, the bill now has 16 sponsors representing an equal number of legislators in each party.
With agriculture accounting for about 10% of nationwide carbon emissions, and with farmers on the front lines of climate related events like heat waves and droughts, it is critical to invest in sustainable farming practices. Carbon Washington, along with the American Farmland Trust and the Washington Association of Conservation districts, has made passage of this bill a top priority, conducting outreach and research to support the legislative process. Other organizations that support the bill include the American Farmland Trust, Tulalip Tribe, PCC Community Markets, WA Dairy Federation, Washington Forest Protection Association, Audubon Washington, and The Nature Conservancy. (more…)
Inside Olympia: Biochar Roaring Back
Following a year of work by Carbon Washington, an important and innovative policy to promote the use of biochar is moving forward in the Washington state Legislature, clearing the first committee last week unanimously, opening possibilities for sequestering carbon and fortifying farmland.
Biochar, a form of charcoal produced from biomass sources like forest deadfall, offers several environmental and agricultural benefits. For instance, it sequesters carbon in soils for hundreds and possibly thousands of years while also decreasing the amount of fuel for wildfires. Agriculture benefits from the nutrients biochar infuses in the soil, which increases crop yields.
Want to keep track of all the climate legislation being considered in Olympia? Thanks to longtime Carbon Washington supporter Thad Curtz, that’s now easy.
Curtz has created a blog called “Climate at the Legislature.” It includes a detailed page about each bill (easily found via search), calendars for hearings and other events, and a host of “push” features, including emails and calendar updates.
Curtz retired after 35 years on the faculty of Evergreen State College, where he taught literature and developmental psychology. In addition to Carbon Washington, he supports Audubon, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and other organizations.
Carbon Washington’s Bill Boyd talked with Curtz about how and why he set up the blog:
CarbonWA: Thad, how’d you get the idea for this?
Thad Curtz: One of my state representatives — Beth Doglio — invited constituents to come to a meeting about what was coming up in the session. She wanted to do more to keep people up to date about what’s going on in the legislature. CarbonWA’s Greg Rock was also saying we need something to help grassroots people track and summarize bills. I had done a lot of work on websites for political candidates and nonprofits, so I set up shop to make it happen. This seemed like a good way to be useful. (more…)