Gael takes all her passion to save the salmon and protect our beautiful Puget Sound and natural landscape to her legislative work. Her membership on two key committees – House Technology and Economic Development as well as House Transportation – creates the opportunity to make progress on multiple fronts simultaneously. We are in a race to break our addiction to fossil fuels. We must transition the transportation sector and our electric grid from dependence on fossil fuels to clean fuels. Carbon emissions and toxic storm water run-off are making certain places unlivable and threatening wildlife habitat as well as forests, agriculture, fish, and aquaculture ecosystems. Through legislation, budget provisos, and the public hearings process, Gael has launched a sustained legislative agenda to tackle climate impacts on all these fronts:
- Gael is investing in the future of youth and the environment by funding research in our universities. Gael secured $400,000 in the budget to support UW, WSU, and WWU research and community outreach efforts. Students and faculty are investigating climate impacts and advising local officials and communities about land use, building codes, energy infrastructure, and other policy issues related to climate change. Their innovation will propel Washington forward, toward a greener and more sustainable future.
- Gael is a strong champion for our natural resources, including the species that swim into our district on their way to spawning grounds in rivers and streams throughout Puget Sound. She continues to propose legislation and put pressure on the Fish and Wildlife Commission to address real risks to salmon, steelhead, and bull trout spawning grounds. Gael is determined to eliminate suction dredging—the terrible practice of motorized mining that destroys gravel beds in Eastern Washington streams and creeks. This practice is a violation of the Clean Water Act and it puts fisheries on the Endangered Species List at risk. Our state spends millions to protect our fisheries, and our tribal communities depend on them for survival. We must prevent motorized miners from destroying these precious resources.
- She introduced legislation to establish laws and policies for I-937 into the next decade, and was the first legislator to introduce legislation so that Seattle City Light can build electric vehicle infrastructure throughout Seattle. She will continue her efforts to create electric vehicle charging stations on the interstate and state highway system.
- Gael’s legislation defines liquid biomass as a renewable resource eligible for clean energy credits. Liquid biomass derived from woody pulp has been piloted at Seattle Steam, one of the nation’s leading clean-energy adopters to prove the concept of using liquid renewable fuels to generate heat and electricity. This expands the innovation available to Washingtonians to make our state greener. This past year, her 100 percent clean energy legislation, which would have made our electric grid fossil-free by 2045, almost made it to the House floor. There were 50 “yes” votes. The only thing that stopped it is that a Senate rule would have prevented it from getting a hearing before the session clock expired.
- Gael is a strong supporter of legislation and ballot measures that keep the public fully engaged in the debates and discussions about climate change and carbon emissions reduction. We need to put a price on carbon and generate revenues where we can invest in renewable alternative solutions.
- Gael vows to continue to advance legislation that she has been prime sponsoring and co-sponsoring for the past six years: identifying new renewable fuels as eligible for state and federal tax credits; pushing towards a clean-energy electric grid by 2045 so our utilities are not using fossil fuels; incentivizing renewable fuels and energy efficiency policies by supporting a carbon tax where those revenues are invested in clean transportation infrastructure; funding our higher education institutions to do research and technology development in engine designs, clean fuel sources, and energy storage and distribution methods that enable renewable energy such as wind and solar to replace fossil fuels as base load for our electric grid; and effective tax policies that support local manufacturing of renewable energy technologies and local service providers with jobs in the clean energy sector.
- Gael also co-sponsored various pieces of legislation to protect critical habitat areas from invasive species.
- Joining with her seatmates and many colleagues, Gael is fighting to protect our communities from the risks of oil trains and coal trains. She co-sponsored the Oil Transportation Safety Act and signed onto numerous letters to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and State Department of Ecology requesting a more comprehensive economic impact analysis of proposed environment projects.
Gael’s commitment to fighting climate change and reducing carbon emissions started early. When she ran for the Port Commission in 2007, Gael saw the potential of the Port to act as a leader in adopting strong environmental standards for the air, water and land, consistent with the values of the people of her district and all of King County. A few of Gael’s environmental accomplishments as a Port Commissioner include:
- Gael championed the first-ever grant to support congestion relief, expand safe bike/pedestrian paths and improve air quality in the SODO, South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods. Thanks to Gael’s constant urging, Port staff aggressively pursued environmental federal stimulus dollars resulting in the Port winning more than $30 million in federal grants for port vehicle electrification, shore power hookups, and pre-conditioned air to reduce greenhouse gas emissions created by idling planes.
- Gael pushed for and secured funding for electric car chargers at Sea-Tac airport for hybrid electric and all-electric vehicles.
- Gael insisted on the completion of the storm-water run-off tank prior to the start of the Sea-Tac Rental Car Facility construction, protecting a salmon-spawning creek nearby. Further, the new rental car facility at the airport uses closed-loop recycling and cleaning of wastewater, further protecting our region from the harmful effects of storm water runoff.
- Gael pushed for a clean-energy solution for the rental car companies’ shuttle buses and as a result the new Port-owned fleet is 100 percent hybrid and reduces shuttle bus trips by an estimated 30 percent.
- Gael led the revision of the Memorandum of Understanding with the cruise ship industry to prohibit any ship from dumping waste into Elliot Bay and also require them to use low sulfur fuels and “shore power” to reduce impacts on water and air quality while cruise ships are docked.
- Gael supported a Lower Duwamish Habitat Restoration Plan where 56 parties have all agreed to allow the Port to create 23 new restored habitat wetlands on privately held land on the river.
- The Commission unanimously passed Gael’s green-trade initiative in early 2011 that accelerates efforts to meet federal clean air standards two years ahead of schedule. In 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency published the results of clean-air initiatives at ports around the country. The Port of Seattle’s programs, conducted jointly with Port of Tacoma and Port of Vancouver, BC, were cited as one of the most successful clean-air efforts in North America. Our ports reduced toxic diesel particulates by an astonishing 97 percent. More than 1,500 metric tons of dirty soot were removed from our port communities.