CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY SUES TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO PROTECT WASHINGTON’S COASTAL WATERS

Well, this is going to be interesting.

Portland, OR—Today, Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a federal lawsuit to stop the Trump administration, through its U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), from greenlighting a massive expansion of industrial shellfish aquaculture in Washington state coastal waters. Industrial aquaculture already threatens Washington’s iconic and invaluable shorelines and bays, which are home to numerous marine species, including endangered salmon. However, the new 2017 permit issued by the Trump administration and now challenged in this case would allow an enormous expansion of the $100-million-dollar-a-year Washington state aquaculture industry, without any marine wildlife or water quality protections for these unique and sensitive ecosystems.

“The Corps’ mission is to protect public waters from harmful environmental impacts, but this permit violates that mission and federal law,” said Amy van Saun, CFS staff attorney, based out of its Pacific Northwest office. “The Corps cannot allow unbridled industrial aquaculture at the expense of Washington’s wildlife and residents. We will hold them accountable to the law and reverse this dangerous approval.”

The permit in question would allow shellfish aquaculture acreage to double to an estimated 72,300 acres, or a third of all Washington shorelines, including critical spawning and feeding grounds for forage fish, invertebrates like Dungeness crab, finfish like salmon and green sturgeon, and birds. Many of these species rely on eelgrass and other aquatic vegetation, and eelgrass helps to mitigate the effects of climate change on oceans. Industrial shellfish aquaculture is known to reduce or eliminate eelgrass, including though the use of pesticides. Yet the new permit has no restrictions on pesticide use, and the agency refused to even examine the impacts of pesticide use on shellfish beds and the surrounding tidal habitat.

“Unlike other pollutants, pesticides kill living organisms by design so are inherently dangerous. They are known to move around in the environment, especially in water, and harm non-target species,” said Dr. Marti Crouch, Ph.D, consulting scientist for CFS.

Neither does the permit restrict the enormous use of plastics by the industry, like the 42,000 PVC tubes per acre covered in plastic netting used to grow geoducks (a type of clam grown almost exclusively for the luxury export market). Netting can trap and entangle wildlife, while the plastics breakdown into microplastics that are hazardous to marine organisms, including the very shellfish being grown for human consumption.

Ignoring these impacts, the Corps’ new permit provides no protections for eelgrass, forage fish, and other species. Mirroring the lack of transparency in the Trump administration in many other contexts, the assessment was secret until after the final decision and even then, failed to explain how the agency would mitigate the permit’s harmful impacts.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Federal Court for the Western District of Washington, argues that the Trump administration violated numerous foundational environmental laws when it approved the Washington state permit, including the Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Administrative Procedure Act. In addition, on June 21, 2017, CFS also separately filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue because the approval also violated the Endangered Species Act.

This is not the first time the Corps’ unlawful shellfish permitting has been challenged in court. In 2015, another public interest group petitioned the Corps to stop using the previous version of the current permit and then sued, claiming that the Corps failed to examine or prevent the ongoing and expanding harm to the Puget Sound ecosystem caused by the rapid expansion of industrial shellfish aquaculture.

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About Center for Food Safety
Center for Food Safety’s mission is to empower people, support farmers, and protect the earth from the harmful impacts of industrial agriculture. Through groundbreaking legal, scientific, and grassroots action, we protect and promote your right to safe food and the environment. Please join our more than 900,000 advocates across the country at www.centerforfoodsafety.org. Twitter: @CFSTrueFood@CFS_Press

Per the opening of the lawsuit.

Washington State is home to unique and invaluable coastal ecosystems that are threatened by the unchecked expansion of industrial shellfish aquaculture. This lawsuit challenges the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issuance of Nationwide Permit (NWP) 48 in Washington State without considering or fully disclosing the environmental impacts of its approval, an approval which greenlights a massive expansion of shellfish aquaculture with entirely inadequate protections. The Corps has a duty to protect public waters from cumulatively adverse impacts, but it has violated its environmental protection mission by issuing 2017 NWP 48 in Washington.

Northwest farmers urge Trump administration to sidestep salmon protection rules – AP

Ah yes, some of the folks in Eastern Washington and Idaho, people who’s livelihood was created by the tax payer funded dam projects that irrigated the dry eastern side of our state are back wanting the Feds to kill off the remaining runs of salmon for their short term benefits. These people, who have continued to complain for decades about the intrusion of the very government that created the dams and their farms, now wants it’s help again. This time to overrule the laws that protect our remaining runs of salmon. One of the big supporters of these folks has been Rush Limbaugh, among other radical right wing folks. You can bet your bottom dollar that if this committee ever comes to fruition, there will be not a single environmental representative on it.

A group that represents farmers is calling the costs of saving imperiled salmon in the largest river system in the Pacific Northwest unsustainable and is turning to the Trump administration to sidestep endangered species laws. The Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association wants the government to convene a Cabinet-level committee with the power to allow exemptions to the Endangered Species Act. Known as the “God squad” because its decisions can lead to extinctions of threatened wildlife, it has only gathered three times — the last 25 years ago during a controversy over spotted owl habitat in the Northwest. Keith Ridler reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.seattletimes.com/business/trump-administration-urged-to-avoid-salmon-protection-rules/

Environmental Penalties Down Under President Trump – NPR

This should come as a surprise to no one. This president and his inept band of anti-science vandals, are hell-bent on reversing decades of protection of our air, water and earth. But we need to document the damage they are causing by not enforcing the laws of both Republican and Democratic legacy.

Since President Trump took office in January, enforcement of environmental laws has dropped dramatically, compared with past administrations. A study released by the Environmental Integrity Project finds that $12 million in civil penalties have been collected from violators in 26 cases between January and the end of July….  That’s significantly less than the number of cases prosecuted and the penalties collected under the same six month period by the Obama, Bush and Clinton administrations. Greg Allen reports. (NPR)

http://www.opb.org/news/article/npr-environmental-penalties-down-under-president-trump/

Wash. Budget Has Pros And Cons For Environmental Policies – KNKX

A brief overview of the good news on the State budget front.

Washingtonians are parsing the state budget passed last weekby a divided legislature. It adds $1.8 billion for basic education over the next two years.  A big chunk of that comes from the closure of a so-called “extractive fuel” loophole, which is one of several new policies that many environmentally progressive groups like.

Eric de Place, an energy and climate policy analyst at the Seattle-based Sightline Institute, says from his perspective, the new state budget is mostly good news.

“I think on net, the budget was a win for the environment and a win for the climate,” de Place said.

http://knkx.org/post/wash-budget-has-pros-and-cons-environmental-policies

Muri’s bill supporting Puget Sound Partnership signed into law – Suburban Times

Good news, albeit a small thing.

The governor signed a bill sponsored by Rep. Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom, that would help the on-going efforts of the Puget Sound Partnership…. Every two years, the Puget Sound Partnership is required to produce a State of the Sound science work plan. The plan identifies recommendations for improvements to their ongoing work in Puget Sound. Because of the short interval for updates, they are in a continuous planning mode. Muri’s bill changes the frequency of the report from every two years, to four years. By reducing the frequency of the updates, the proposal would help free up the Puget Sound Partnership’s resources. This would allow them to focus on meeting restoration performance targets. (Suburban Times)

http://thesubtimes.com/2017/04/20/muris-bill-supporting-puget-sound-partnership-signed-into-law/

Dear Scott Pruitt, you’re making a mockery of the EPA – Crosscut & KING 5

A strong letter to the  new EPA leader by a long time senior staffer, who just resigned.

However, I, and many staff, firmly believe the policies this Administration is advancing are contrary to what the majority of the American people, who pay our salaries, want EPA to accomplish, which are to ensure the air their children breath is safe; the land they live, play, and hunt on to be free of toxic chemicals; and the water they drink, the lakes they swim in, and the rivers they fish in to be clean.

Read the whole short piece at Crosscut. By the way, while you are there, donate a small bit to help continue their efforts. They run this great news source on a shoestring.

http://crosscut.com/2017/04/epa-worker-seattle-letter-to-scott-pruitt/

 

 

If Canada ups its oil shipping, should we worry?- Crosscut

Would be nice to think this bill has a chance, but appears that it doesn’t. There is always next year.

 

…. The House Finance Committee in Olympia is set to vote Thursday on a measure to require tug escorts for articulated oil barges. HB 1611 aims to address some shortcomings in the state’s oil spill prevention program. It would improve safety requirements for water transport, including mandating tug escorts for oil-transporting vessels. It also would tighten safety standards for pipelines and provide additional funding for the oil spill program administered by the Department of Ecology. Strong opposition from Republicans in the Senate means the bill faces a steep uphill climb, its sponsor, Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle, acknowledges. She failed to get similar legislation passed two years ago, instead passing a bill that improved safety only for oil transport by rail. Adiel Kaplan reports. (Investigate West)

http://crosscut.com/2017/03/if-canada-ups-its-oil-shipping-should-we-worry-trans-mountain-pipeline/

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