Puget Sound Partnership on the Governor’s proposed 2019-2021 biennial budget

 

Statement from Director Sheida Sahandy on the Governor’s proposed 2019-2021 biennial budget
Governor Inslee’s budget proposal revealed today demonstrates his strong commitment to recovering Southern Resident orcas, salmon, and the Puget Sound ecosystem.  The ecological condition of Puget Sound came into sharp focus last summer as Talequah, one of our few remaining Southern Resident orcas, carried her dead calf on her head through a mourning journey that lasted 17 days. 

 

Ecosystem decline is the result of thousands of decisions that have, directly or indirectly, negatively impacted our shared resources.  Getting to recovery and resiliency will similarly take thousands of decisions that take us in the right direction of achieving and maintaining a thriving Puget Sound.  Ongoing recovery work over the years has helped to mitigate the decline, with some very positive results, but much greater investment is needed to definitively alter course.

 

The investments proposed by the Governor will go far in helping us turn the corner on sustaining the Puget Sound ecosystem and the creatures we share it with. These investments align with two significant, collaborative, science-based bodies of work: the recommendations of the Southern Resident Task Force and the Puget Sound Action Agenda.

 

Investments in Puget Sound recovery are critical to the survival of orcas and salmon. They also boost our region’s economic vitality and agricultural sustainability, enable maintenance of our abilities to fish and recreate, and help us to ensure the quality of life that draws and keeps people to this region.  These investments also support our shared obligations to the reserved treaty rights of the tribes in Puget Sound.

 

We hope the legislature supports and funds these critical investments.   

Farm Bill cleans up attacks on environment

The NRDC has put out a press release stating their support of the current Farm Bill, now that the anti-environmental elements of it have been removed. Passage seems likely.

“The final farm bill is an enormous improvement over the partisan train wreck passed by the House. Many poison pills are gone that would have axed protections covering endangered species, pesticides, clean water and food for hungry individuals. While the final bill still contains some problematic provisions, we are thankful that our champions defeated many of the worst proposals.” Erik Olson, senior director for health and food at the Natural Resources Defense Council

https://www.nrdc.org/media/2018/181211-1

 

Trump administration rolls back protections on wetlands. Legal battle will ensue

The battle over the Clean Water Act has shifted into high gear. The EPA  has decided to rollback Obama era protections to wetlands. The definition of wetlands and their importance to underground aquifers has been established by science. That science has allowed the expansion of how pollution migrates to “navigable waterways” as defined by the CWA. That the ex-head of the EPA Scott Pruitt as well as the current (ex coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler has chosen on numerous occasions to ignore their scientists recommendations, to choose development and industry over protections means that the battle will shift to the states, where progressive states like ours, who have implemented strong Critical Areas Ordinances and Shoreline Master Plans, are capable of holding off the outcomes of this ruling. Likely a Supreme Court battle will ensue over the next few years.

NPRs version of the story here:

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/11/675477583/trump-epa-proposes-big-changes-to-federal-water-protections

NY Times article here:

Washington Post coverage:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/02/20/trump-to-roll-back-obamas-climate-water-rules-through-executive-action/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.3787695342fe

National Resource Defense Council view

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/trumps-attack-clean-water-what-you-need-know

A right wing analysis of the rollback can be found here:

https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/421091-epa-restores-common-sense-to-overaggressive-water-regulations

 

 

 

 

Senator Ranker chosen to chair new Senate Environment & Tourism Committee and lead on environmental budget

This will be an important position in the upcoming legislative session.


OLYMPIA – Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) was selected by his peers in the Senate Democratic Caucus to chair the new Environment & Tourism Committee in the 2019 Legislative Session.

“From our Salish Sea to our orcas to plastic pollution to community health and climate change, our environment and our children’s future has never been at greater risk,” said Ranker. “While the federal administration denies science and institutes reckless policies, Washingtonians want to protect and sustain the incredible quality of life in our communities. I am honored to help lead a powerful environmental agenda in both this new committee as well as our capital and operating budgets to make sure that we don’t just survive the next two years, but put in place incredible environmental policies that protect our environment and our future for generations.”

Recognizing the incredible environmental opportunities before us, the Senate is restructuring environmental oversight by establishing a new committee with general oversight of environmental protection and policies. The committee members will also work to boost our state’s tourism industry. A 2015 study showed that Washington’s outdoor recreation industry generates more than $20 billion annually.

Ranker will also serve as vice-chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee for the environment for both the capital and operating budgets where he will play a leadership role in the development of the critical environmental and natural resources budgets.

 

Debate Over Water Quality Standards Takes A New Turn – Puget Sound Institute

Christopher Dunagan writes on the issue of the Federal EPA vs. State of Washington EPA, vs. the people of Washington, as the real battle of Trumps reigning in of environmental regulations changes the rules of engagement. The issue is very relevant to all of us in the Salish Sea basin, as it pits a national standard of water quality, established by the EPA under Obama’s era, against an update by the Trump administration. How much cancer causing chemicals can we eat before we get cancer?

The State of Washington EPA fought the original stricter standards, because it would mean more effort by industrial corporations (i.e. Boeing et al) to meet the newer standards, which were put in place partly due to the fact that many of us are eating far more fish than what was originally believed. Now those same corporations are petitioning Trump’s EPA to ease the standards.

It’s not just an academic debate. Cancer causing chemicals effect us and our resident Orcas and more. Read the whole short story on it here. Www.pugetsoundinstitute.org

https://www.pugetsoundinstitute.org/2018/11/debate-over-water-quality-standards-takes-a-new-turn/

Many people thought the issue of regulating toxic chemical discharges into Puget Sound was settled when the federal government forced Washington state to use stricter criteria, but the debate may be underway once again.

Zangle Cove Lawsuit Issues Bombshell Findings Against Aquaculture

The case moving through the courts at the present time to challenge the lack of Hydraulic Code Permits for the destruction of shorelines by aquaculture got a surprise boost yesterday.

Findings that contradict the testimony of the Army Corp of Engineers and Taylor Shellfish show that in 2017 the Army Corps had to create a Cumulative Impact Analysis that showed conclusively that there would be significant impacts from adoption of a Nation Wide Aquaculture Permit. The 117 page draft concluded that their would be significant impacts if adopted. The Corps has categorically denied such impacts.

The Corps admits that the aquaculture is likely to “adversely affect designated critical habitat for several species listed under the ESA including Puget Sound Chinook salmon, Hood Canal summer chum salmon and Puget Sound Steelhead…Given the magnitude of the the impacts in acreage the importance of eelgrass to the marine ecosystem and the scale of the aquaculture impacts relative to other stressors, the impacts are considered significant.”

The letter goes on: The proposed action is inconsistent with State requirements under the SMA to protect forage fish spawning habitat.”

The debate has been that the Army Corps of Engineers nor the State have ever considered the cumulative impact of aquaculture permitting on the overall shoreline and ecosystem of Puget Sound, focusing only on individual parcels. Now we know that they did consider the impact, and found it lacking.

The next steps on this lawsuit should be very interesting, judges don’t usually go against findings of fact such as this, and the Governor’s Orca Recovery Task force is currently about to publish it’s findings for saving habitat for the Orca and it’s food sources.

The full text of the findings are here:

http://users.neo.registeredsite.com/3/7/5/12218573/assets/2017_NWP48_Draft_Cumulative_Imapct_Analysis.pdf

EPA to eliminate office that advises Agency Chief on Science – NY Times

The EPA has abandoned any pretense at using science to instruct their decisions, made by their chief, who is an ex-coal lobbyist. The corruption in this administration will likely never be duplicated. We have not seen anything like this since the early part of the 1900s. You want to change it? Get out and vote.

 

 

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