Monday, April 7, 2008

Signing Day

April 1st is the first day of Earth Month, April Fools' Day, and the day the Governor of the State of Washington signed three good bills for the environment that Earth Ministry helped to pass this year in the state legislature.

What a glorious day it was! Every daffodil in Western Washington was waving its little yellow face toward us as we drove down. The Capitol campus was shining in the spring sunbursts and now that the legislative session is over the pace of life is more like a charming Northwestern town than a full-blown Ulcer Gulch. I brought Kobil, a former intern from EarthCorps, with me to witness democracy in action; our dog Rusty came along, too, because he loves the grounds of the Capitol. Rusty had to wait in the car, though, and didn't get a pen with the Governor's name on it.

I was proud to be a part of the team of citizen activists who joyfully joined Gregoire in the signing room, proud to be part of the organization that is the leading voice for the faith community on each of these bills. There we were, in front of God and everybody, cheering as the Children's Safe Products Act, Local Solutions, and Evergreen Communities bills were signed into law.

First up was the signing of Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition's ban on lead, cadmium, and phthalates in children's toys. This bill would seem like a no-brainer, has long been the law in Europe, and had good support in both houses of the legislature. As a cradle Catholic who heard a lot about protecting life as I was growing up, eliminating poison in kid's toys seems like a pretty reasonable faith choice. Earth Ministry is a partner in a nation-wide campaign with the National Council of Churches to support such legislation, and on April 1st we were the first state to deliver on that partnership. I was happy!

The Local Solutions bill was the second signing we attended, a hard-fought victory for Futurewise, one of Earth Ministry's partners in the environmental Priorities for a Healthy Washington. This bill supports local governments in considering climate change as a concern in land use planning. The bottom line is that the more our neighborhoods are based on the car, the more we drive and greenhouse gases we produce, the more damaged our atmosphere becomes. If governments plan development so that people live closer to where they want to be, everyone benefits.

Again I shook the Governor's hand and said thanks on behalf of Earth Ministry and people of faith in Washington State.

Finally, we went in with the good leaders of the Audubon Society to watch Gregoire sign their bill Evergreen Communities that supports model tree ordinances. This is a bill that Christians can get behind because it prioritizes reforestation of the poorest neighborhoods and promotes environmental health for those who need it most. Audubon is in it for the birds, of course, and that alone is a good enough reason, though the benefits to human well-being are real too.

Kobil and I came out of the signings, threw the ball for Rusty in the spring sunshine, took some pictures on the Capitol steps, and headed for home.
What a great way to begin Earth Month; no fooling!

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