Actual Marginalia


#zine #comic #pitchidea #nonfiction #policywonk #EJ


MTCA (pronounced “mot-ka” by policy wonks) is probably one of the most important environmental cleanup laws in WA. MTCA funds and directs the investigation, cleanup, and prevention of sites that are contaminated by hazardous substances. It's only ONE of TWO revenue-generating ballot initiatives in Washington, which is wild.

Covers non-superfund sites (that is, not covered by federal funding via taxpayers). 13,000 sites. So far, 7200 sites cleaned.

Origin story

WEC, where I work, was a big part. But, at the time, all volunteers.

Negotiated with Boeing, Weyerhauser. In legislature, ended up having to compromise...and, even then, Boeing pulled support. Surprise, the democratic caucus was against it! But MTCA had lots of public support. There was 1-day special session to pass watered down alternative to MTCA. (What happened between this and the ballot initiative? Have to ask a coworker for clarification)

Ballot initiative: No polls, so were surprised that initiative from WEC passed by landslide at the ballot. MTCA was implemented through long years of rule-making.

They were looking at manufacturing facilities, but didn't realize there were so many tiny toxic sites in residential areas. You wouldn't imagine them in residential areas, but those types of sites (supplier to Boeing dumping chromium) or facilities are in residential areas, communities of color, such as South Park.

Yakima: decades of pesticide pollution. Tiny buildings where they blend pesticides. Dumped in backyards and in streets where people live and play.

Recent Updates

MTCA needed an update. Because it covers so much (clean up and preventing pollution, public participation grants), the funding needed to be stabilized. Because it was funded by tax on hazardous substances, primarily from the oil industry...but that meant level of funding needed was locked to the volatility of oil prices. So this kind of unpredictable source is no good; leads to problems like no public participation fund for 2 years (2019). Project delays because not enough money.

A coalition was able to form!

  1. Local businesses, ports, were getting concerned. Housing redevelopment. Health of MTCA tied to health of affordable housing development. Pollution and housing is tied together. Anytime you turn over a rock, there's legacy contamination.

  2. Oil companies getting lots of money. Congress tax break in 2017 to oil companies argument for these oil companies not paying their share.

  3. Enviro champions in the state legislature

  4. And: a leader! Good Guy Frockt in the Senate really took this on (as a budget writer). Get this in the budget under cover of night. “Not fair!” said the oil companies. “Eat petroleum-covered dirt!” he didn't say, but we all heard when he was telling this story.

  5. Stabilized and increased tax in the 2019 legislative session. Tax escalates over time. Whoo!