December 2, 2019
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Ecology director announces plan to step down at end of year

After 25 years of state service and nearly seven years as the director of the Washington Department of Ecology, Maia Bellon is ready to move on. Bellon announced Monday via Twitter that she will be leaving the agency at the end of year. "Arriving at this choice has been bittersweet, but I'm confident that it's the right time for me to make a professional and personal change," she said.

After taking some time to reconnect with family and friends, Bellon said she intends to "dust off" her law degree and go into private practice, focusing on environmental law and policy.

Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Bellon to the position in February 2013. Prior to that, she served as deputy and then manager of Ecology's Water Resources Program. She also served for 15 years as assistant attorney general focusing on water law and environmental legal issues.

The governor issued a statement praising Bellon, calling her a "resolute leader" who made decisions based on science and data. "The work she has done at the Department of Ecology will benefit Washingtonians for generations to come," Inslee said.

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Cross-laminated timber can help the Northwest lead on the Green New Deal

By Seattle City Councilmember Abel Pacheco and his director of communications, Conor Bronsdon

We live in a region of pioneers and conservationists in a land built on the back of the timber industry. The idea of sustainable working forests fits not just our historical industrial strengths, it fits our regional ethos. In the Pacific Northwest, we want to live green. It's time for Seattle to take the lead on mass timber. With cross-laminated timber (CLT) and other mass timber products we can move to solve our housing crisis, develop needed density, and address climate change -- all while staying true to our regional culture and history.

By using CLT in the development of much-needed housing we will actively remove and store carbon from the atmosphere -- every cubic meter of timber growth captures one ton of carbon from the atmosphere. Construction would simultaneously emit less carbon.

Encouraging CLT usage could also jump-start stalled rural economies that have languished since the logging industry slowed down. Construction startup Katerra opened the nation's largest capacity CLT manufacturing facility in Spokane and Vaagen Brothers Lumber, which has been in Washington for four generations, is expanding CLT production operations in Colville. With the state making code changes fall that allow for the use of mass timber in buildings as tall as 18 stories, the region is primed to use CLT to address our affordable housing crisis.

Read the full op-ed in The Puget Sound Business Journal
A more resilient workforce

Prepare students for technical careers

By The Seattle Times editorial board

Once, all it took to secure a satisfying and well-paying job was a high school diploma and a good work ethic. But that story has largely changed.

That's why Washington's public schools must offer robust, high-quality Career and Technical Education programs to help prepare the state's vocationally minded students for career success.

A college education should be within reach of all students with the aptitude and interest to pursue a four-year degree, but not everyone wants to follow that path. At the same time, there is a high and consistent workforce demand for skilled tradespeople, without whom Washington's economy would shudder to a halt.

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times.