October 26, 2015
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Obama administration approves part of wildfire disaster declaration

Washington state has spent more than $100 million in firefighting costs alone this year, and the federal government last week approved some financial assistance -- but not all of the help the state had requested.

The Obama administration approved part of Gov. Jay Inslee's requested federal disaster declaration. The declaration makes available Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) public assistant to the Colville Tribe and eight counties: Yakima, Chelan, Ferry, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Whatcom. The Daily Sun News covered the story.

Among those not receiving federal help are Okanogan County homeowners. Despite the destruction of 146 homes in this summer's fires, FEMA will not help with rental assistance, home repair and replacement of household items for Okanogan County's homeowners, The Seattle Times reports. The governor called the denial "very disappointing news" and said he would create a new group responsible for coordinating restoration and recovery efforts.

In more positive news, the city of Wenatchee last week announced that it has been selected as one of three communities across the nation to be part of a new program to help reduce future wildfire risk and costs. The Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire program will bring the city together with land use planners, foresters and risk mapping experts to mitigate future fire impacts.

Also last week, FEMA announced it will pay Snohomish County an additional $1.75 million in mudslide recovery expenses related to the 2014 Oso landslide. These funds will bring the total federal and state reimbursements to more than $18 million.



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House Democrats Opposed Carbon Tax

Opposing Inslee's climate proposals is a bipartisan affair

By Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch

A couple of weeks ago, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a new carbon-emissions reduction plan and declared any lawmaker who opposes it a "fear monger." He said opponents are joining ranks with "the climate deniers." And he blamed Republicans in the Legislature this year for failing to act on his big plan to restrict and tax carbon.

Well, I don't think the governor is giving his own party enough credit. It wasn't the Republicans who killed his grandiose cap-and-trade proposal. Democrats killed it before the Republicans even had a chance. ...

People in both parties recognize there are big problems with these overweening schemes to remake our economy and our society. Democrats are as leery as anyone. It's just that most of us don't like to go public with our misgivings.

The latest development is that the governor is ordering the Department of Ecology to impose another poorly thought-out carbon program -- that's one way to avoid a vote of the Legislature. I'm not sure he will get away with it, but it's no wonder he's trying.

Even if we could change the world climate with an immediate reduction in carbon emissions, Washington simply doesn't produce enough to make a difference -- just two-tenths of one percent of global output annually. At best the governor's proposals would reduce a small fraction of that, and any reductions in this state will instantly be offset by increases on the other side of the globe.

Click here to read the full op-ed in Crosscut
Washington Benefits From the Ex-Im Bank

It's past time for Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank

By The Yakima Herald-Republic's editorial board

Congressional representatives get paid to govern, not grandstand. It appears that enough House members recognize that reality, and now a key piece of legislation stands a legitimate chance of passing -- with great benefit to the Yakima Valley and Washington state.

The issue involves the Export-Import Bank, which Congress created in 1934 and has reauthorized 16 times in the ensuing decades. But a small minority in Congress this year held up reauthorization on the argument that it amounts to corporate welfare.

It is not so much welfare as it is a tool that enables companies, especially American companies, to conduct business across international borders.

Click here to read the full editorial in The Yakima Herald-Republic
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