WA Legislators prepare for long list of climate change bills – Crosscut and others

As we start the 2022 legislative session, there’s a lot of new bills to follow.

Lawmakers could look at more than a dozen climate proposals addressing carbon reduction and other environmental issues

https://crosscut.com/politics/2022/01/wa-legislators-prepare-long-list-climate-change-bills

Also there is a parallel and somewhat overlapping set of bills followed by the Environmental Environmental Priorities Coalition. They are a coalition of over twenty leading environmental groups who lobby in Olympia on a regular basis and organize around a set of priority bills each legislative session.  They established four to be their highest priorities for the 2022 Legislative Session, they are listed below.  As in the past, they will be sending out a weekly “Hot List” to assist in your efforts to promote this common agenda.

The key priorities for the environmental caucus, as defined by the Washington Environmental Council and other allies:

2022 Priorities

Lorraine Loomis Act for Salmon Recovery (SB 5727 / HB 1838): Across the state, salmon are on the brink of extinction. Some Puget Sound salmon species have declined by 90% compared to historical populations. In the Columbia River basin, returns are as little as 2% of historical levels. The Governor is proposing habitat legislation as a tribute to Lorraine Loomis (Swinomish Tribe, and Chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission) longtime champion for the salmon. The Act requires tree buffers tall and wide enough to shade rivers and streams. The Act also requires shifting to a standard of improving ecological conditions rather than habitat loss mitigation.

Transportation for All: We need to fund a transportation system that reduces pollution and can support a range of transportation solutions including improving multimodal transportation choices, such as biking, driving, and public transit. Transportation dollars must be used in ways that deliver the best investments possible to help build a more efficient, affordable, and clean transportation system for all.

GMA Sprawl Loophole (SB 5042): The current sprawl loophole undermines the intent of the Growth Management Act (GMA) by allowing counties to subvert the Growth Management Hearing Board (GMHB) appeals process to illegally build sprawling developments that devours farmlands, forests, and critical habitats. The loophole locks in outdated rules, and puts a financial strain on jurisdictions to provide adequate infrastructure, facilities, and services to new developments.

RENEW Act (SB 5697): All across Washington, plastic waste litters Washington’s shorelines and waterways, filling landfills to capacity, and harming wildlife. Our recycling system needs to be modernized so packaging can actually be recycled, composted, or reused. The Renew Recycling Act addresses this waste by creating a set of graduated fees on packaging manufacturers based on how readily reusable, compostable, or recyclable their products are. These fees will be used to fund improvements in infrastructure, uniform access for residents across the state, and a clear list of what people can recycle. This bill will have the added benefit of shifting recycling costs away from ratepayers and onto the manufacturers.

The Puget Sound Partnership Agenda

Buy Clean & Buy Fair (HB 1103 / SB 5366): Washington has an important role to play through investing in locally sourced materials, manufactured in facilities with high labor standards and minor environmental impact. The policy creates a reporting system with vital information on the environmental and labor impacts of structural materials used in state-funded infrastructure projects. During the 2021 session, the legislature funded the creation of a publicly accessible database to enable reporting and promote transparency. Passing Buy Clean and Buy Fair legislation sends a clear market signal of the growing demand for ethically-made low-carbon goods. (Partner: Blue Green Alliance)

Energy for All (HB 1490): Secure access to energy is crucial to keeping Washington residents healthy, safe, learning, working, and thriving, and will facilitate a Just Transition to clean energy. The Governor and Utilities and Transportation Commission moratoriums on shut-offs helped sustain residential energy service in Washington and protected the public. But these protections are temporary and utilities are already seeking to collect on debt. This legislation establishes access to home energy as a basic need and an essential resource that should be accessed in full dignity without uncertainty about affordability and threats of disconnection. (Partner: Front & Centered)

Also, you can track environmental bills here:

and here:

Event: WA DOE air monitoring listening session on Jan 20th- Sign up now.

There is an upcoming listening session that the Washington State Department of Ecology is holding. As part of the recently passed “Climate Commitment Act,” Ecology is looking to promote environmental justice and equity. One way we are looking to do this is by expanding air quality monitoring in overburdened communities. There will be two steps in this process:

1)      Identifying a set of overburdened communities.

2)      Installing new air quality monitors in those communities.

Ecology will be holding a listening session to hear from communities on January 20th starting at 6 PM. More information regarding this listening session and a link to register can be found here:https://ecology.wa.gov/Blog/Posts/December-2021/Clearer-skies-ahead.

You can read up more about the Climate Commitment Act here (there is a short discussion on the environmental justice piece): https://ecology.wa.gov/Air-Climate/Climate-change/Reducing-greenhouse-gases/Climate-Commitment-Act.

Please forward along to anyone who may have interest.

Shingo Yamazaki

Washington State Department of Ecology

Solid Waste Management Program, Industrial Section

PO Box 47600

Olympia, Washington 98504

syam461@ECY.WA.GOV

Congress Authorizes PFAS Testing at Military Facilities Throughout US -Whidbey Naval Base Included- MartenLaw.com

This has been an known ongoing issue with the Navy base, poisoning water supplies on Whidbey Island. The $500 million should help identify where this is happening and what can be done about it. The hidden costs of our “sound of freedom” as some promoters of the base would like to call it, creates poisoned ecosystems, ear splitting noise even inside insulated classrooms for children, and many other costs. Another sound of freedom is also the roll call in Congress to fund this activity.



By Jonah Brown

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (“FY22 NDAA”),
signed by the President on December 27, 2021, directs the Department of
Defense (“DoD”) to test for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (also
known as “PFAS”) at military sites throughout the country. A map of
formerly used defense sites can be found here: Former Sites
https://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Formerly-Used-Defense-Sites/FUDS-GIS/.
A map of current military installations can be found here: Active Sites
https://militarybases.com/. DoD must begin its assessment with a report to
Congress on the status of 50 priority current and former sites within 60 days
of the effective date, meaning the end of February. A map showing the
locations of these sites can be viewed at the end of this article.

Groundwater contamination from use of PFAS-containing aqueous film-forming
foam (“AFFF”) has already been discovered at hundreds of current and
former DoD facilities, including military airports, National Guard bases, and
installations controlled by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The
FY22 NDAA provides $500 million in funding to DoD to fulfill Congress’
direction to test for PFAS.
Read More

https://www.martenlaw.com/news-and-insights/congress-authorizes-pfas-testing-at-military-facilities-throughout-us

Event: 2022 Environmental Lobby Day

WHEN: January 25th, 26th and 27th

WHERE: ONLINE

https://www.facebook.com/events/223059966492649/?active_tab=discussion

Join the 350 WA Network, Our Climate, Re-Sources, Climate Reality Project, Environmental Priorities Coalition and hundreds of activists to push for key environmental health and justice legislation in 2022. During lobby days, you will team up with other activists from your district to speak up for the environmental health and justice and gain the skills to be a persuasive constituent. You’ll have the opportunity to attend online issue briefings, learn how to lobby, hear from environmental champions, and meet virtually with your elected officials to advance important environmental legislation. Stay tuned for more details and pre-register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/…/tZItce…
Email kat@wcvoters.org with questions

2022 Puget Sound Budget

The Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) has released an initial budget for Puget Sound Restoration projects in 2022. These are the prioritized projects in total that will get funding from the PSP. There are a number of projects underway or awaiting funding to address dozens of root causes of the shape of the Sound. Habitat restoration, removing culverts, restoring streams, toxic reductions, monitoring projects, hatchery enhancements, helping farmers better farm for sustainability, education to foster better decisions by the public, the list is huge. When critics discuss restoring Puget Sound, they often look at the issue from only one lens (i.e. hatchery funding, etc.). This budget is looking at the 360 degree view of all that is currently on the table for restoration projects.


Each year, the Puget Sound Partnership develops a prioritized list of state agency budget requests related to Puget Sound recovery. The Partnership shares this list with the Office of Financial Management, relevant legislative committee members and staff, and our partners. As the Governor and legislators release their respective budget proposals, the Partnership updates information about the Puget Sound Budget to reflect the most recent information.

https://psp.wa.gov/puget-sound-budget.php
To interact with this chart, go to https://psp.wa.gov/puget-sound-budget.php

Groups Again Sue Army Corps to Protect Washington’s Coastal Areas and Endangered Species from Industrial Shellfish Operations

Back to the battle lines in the courthouse to make the Army Corps. of Engineers live up to the law. They were found guilty of not doing diligence in the last year, and yet they reissued the same permits in the last days of the Trump administration with no changes by sending out “Letters of Permission” to get around the ruling. A truly cynical move. What can you do about this? Donate to either CFS or the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat. From the press release today:


SEATTLE—Today, Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) from continuing the excessive expansion of industrial shellfish operations without considering the cumulative impacts to Washington’s rich and diverse coastal waters. Industrial shellfish operations adversely affect Washington’s shorelines and estuaries by destroying critical habitat for numerous species, including endangered and threatened salmon and killer whales. These operations harm Washington’s aquatic and nearshore areas by increasing plastic netting and debris, micro-plastics, pesticides, and disturbances in the environment. 

“Despite clear statutory mandates and a previous court decision requiring the government to fully consider the potential impacts of proposed shellfish operations, the Corps continues to ignore its duties by allowing industrial shellfish operations to degrade important aquatic habitats, including through the use of plastics and pesticides, endangering Washington’s shorelines, biodiversity, and surrounding communities,” said Amy van Saun, senior attorney at CFS.

In the complaint filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, plaintiffs argue that the nationwide permit (NWP 48 of 2021) authorizing commercial shellfish operations in Washington violates several federal environmental protection laws, including the Clean Water Act (CWA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act, and Administrative Procedure Act. The complaint also challenges the Corps’ unlawful use of “Letters of Permission” (LOP) to approve industrial shellfish operations without public notice or comment and without considering their overall cumulative impacts. 

The new lawsuit comes on the heels of a previous lawsuit against the Corps, where CFS and allies successfully sued the Trump administration for issuing a similar nationwide permit (NWP 48 of 2017). The court found the previous 2017 permit unlawful under CWA and NEPA, stating that the Corps had failed to adequately consider the impacts on Washington’s shorelines and wildlife habitat, including the cumulative effects of expanding or continuing operations in sensitive areas. In a victory for plaintiffs, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently affirmed the lower court’s decision. 

In January 2021, during the last few days of the Trump administration, the Corps finalized the new nationwide permit for commercial shellfish aquaculture activities. In rushing to issue the permit, the Corps ignored comments from plaintiffs and stakeholders urging the agency to fix problems with its impact analysis before issuing the new permit. For example, neither the 2017 permit nor the 2021 reissuance include any restrictions on pesticide or plastic use. Much like the unlawful 2017 permit, the 2021 permit authorizes commercial shellfish aquaculture activities in Washington without full consideration of the potential adverse effects to aquatic ecosystems and wildlife, prompting CFS and allies to launch another lawsuit to vacate the permit.

“The Coalition is outraged that the Corps would try to avoid doing what is necessary as a bare minimum under the law to protect orcas, salmon, and marine life in Washington from the toxic and physical impacts of the massive number of industrial-scale aquaculture operations that have been proposed,” said Laura Hendricks, director of the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat. “This is precisely the sort of agency action that gives ‘government’ a bad name.”
 

The Corps has already relied on the 2021 NWP 48 to approve thousands of acres of industrial shellfish activities in Washington’s coastal areas, and the LOPs to approve thousands more without public input. Many of the acres authorized for shellfish aquaculture are located near critical spawning, breeding, and feeding habitats for forage fish, threatened and endangered species of salmon and green sturgeon, birds, whales, and other wildlife species. Additionally, operations authorized under the new permit destroy eelgrass and other aquatic plants that provide habitat to wildlife and other essential ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, sediment stabilization, and nutrient balancing, which help mitigate the effects of climate change. 

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are CFS and Coalition to Protect Puget Sound. CFS is represented by counsel from CFS and Coalition to Protect Puget Sound is represented by the Law Office of Karl G. Anuta and Law Office of Mike Sargetakis.

Thirty environmental leaders urge Inslee to fill vacant seats on Fish & Wildlife Commission.

In a startling development, 30 key leaders of environmental organizations around the state have sent a letter urging Governor Jay Inslee to fill the vacant seats on the fish and wildlife commission with commissioners who will emphasize conservation science and reform.

The commission has been in turmoil for the last year partially because Governor Inslee has not filled 2 vacancies on it. He has left a 3 to 3 tie with commissioners who support extreme hunting ideas not based in peer reviewed science unwilling to compromise whatsoever with more moderate commissioners who had to seek independent science because they could not trust the data that was presented in key meetings with WDFW staff. It turned out their concerns were well founded.

Just this week one of the wildlife commissioners, Fred Koontz, resigned saying that the commission was “stuck in a political quagmire”. The dysfunction in this Commission mirrors a recent state audit that found that the Department of Fish and Wildlife itself is in in a state of crisis, with management bullying “rampant” and unethical behavior normalized. The Commission is supposed to be supervising this department. If ever there was time for a top to bottom overhaul of the Department, it is now.

This state of affairs is one of the Governor’s own making, since there have been two vacancies unfilled for the last year that he could’ve easily have filled with people who want to support science and the environmental goals that he has stated he supports for his entire career. Why has he not done that?

The mess is detailed in the letter below. In decades spent covering environmental issues I have never seen anything like the current situation at WDFW. It needs attention by the Governor now.

EPA announces $34 million in Puget Sound funding

Really good news for the continued restoration of our waters. We are in for a long haul to get to a clean Sound. It’s taken 100+ years of destruction of our ecosystems. If it’s possible at all it will take another 100 to finish the job. Failure is not an option.

The National Estuary Program provides funds for state, local, tribal, and federal projects.


December 16, 2021 Contact Information Bill Dunbar (dunbar.bill@epa.gov) 206-553-1019 Suzanne Skadowski (skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov) 206-553-2160

SEATTLE (December 16, 2021) – The Northwest office of the Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is providing over $34 million in grant funds to state, local, tribal, and federal partners for Puget Sound recovery and conservation efforts.

“Puget Sound is a national treasure with profound economic and cultural significance,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “These funds help build stronger partnerships and deliver results that are much-needed fuel for recovery of Puget Sound and the communities that depend on it. In addition to these grant funds, the $89 million slated for Puget Sound in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will accelerate this progress to secure tangible, concrete protections that will benefit local communities for generations.” 

These National Estuary Program funds support development and implementation of the Puget Sound Action Agenda – the five-year strategy for Puget Sound recovery – and work to meet tribal trust responsibilities and treaty obligations. These grants fund a diversity of work spanning from habitat protection, to finding and fixing sources of pollution, to cutting edge stormwater research, to tribal salmon restoration projects.

Recipients include three tribal consortia, 19 federally recognized tribes, the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Washington’s Department of Ecology, Department of Health, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources, and Department of Commerce, the Puget Sound Partnership, Washington State University’s Stormwater Center, and the University of Washington’s Puget Sound Institute.

Since 2006, Congress has appropriated $419 million in Clean Water Act and geographic program funds for Puget Sound that EPA has used to help restore more than 50,000 acres of habitat and protect in excess of 150,000 acres of harvestable shellfish beds. These federal funds have leveraged nearly $2.1 billion of additional funds largely from the state of Washington.

In addition to grants, EPA experts partner with and provide their scientific and policy expertise to local, state, and tribal governments, industry and NGOs are involved in scientific research and restoration projects throughout the Puget Sound basin. The EPA Puget Sound Program also co-leads the Puget Sound Federal Task Force that works to coordinate federal programs and resources to support Puget Sound Recovery. To learn more about this inter-agency effort, see the recently posted November 2021 Progress Report.

NWIFC Tribes Urge Legislature to Pass Lorraine Loomis Act Protecting Riparian Habitat

The proposed act follows the recommendations of a state-tribal workgroup created after the 2019 Centennial Accord meeting when Inslee directed state agencies to develop a uniform, science-based management approach to make sure salmon have the cool, clean water they need to survive.

https://nwtreatytribes.org/nwifc-tribes-urge-legislature-to-pass-lorraine-loomis-act-protecting-riparian


The Governor’s Proposal for Salmon Recovery is here:

Washington wildlife commissioner resigns, citing ‘politicized quagmire’ – Seattle Times and others

Fred Koontz, Ph.D. (photo by WDFW)

The ongoing feud between hunters and environmentalists continues to play out in the State Wildlife Commission. Wildlife Commissioner Dr. Fred Koontz has resigned due to the ugly nature of the debates and the inability to find common ground with the hunting coalition on the commission. Dr. Koontz was more interested in ensuring that decisions were made by looking at the science. He comes from more of a scientist/educator and may have underestimated the political nature of the position and the anger that is boiling over a perceived anti-hunting point of view. Why is this story important? Because the Wildlife Commission handles a wide range of issues:

The Commission establishes policies to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife, and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities compatible with healthy and diverse fish and wildlife populations.

From the WDFW website: https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission

The Commission in years gone by, was a stalwart sports hunting and fishing enclave, with a strong bent towards maximizing hunting and fishing and the licensing revenues it brings to State coffers. But the rise of endangered species and the growing scientific awareness of the many options in managing wild stocks, along with a declining amount of hunters and rising number of environmentally protective citizenry has changed the landscape. Those days of blanket support for sportsmen & women are tempered by new opinions that are not ready to simply rubber stamp the needs of sports over scientific baselines. An example is that recent science presented by pro bear hunt biologists in WDFW during the decision process were countered by independent research that Commissioner Koontz and other commissioners brought to the discussion. Their numbers were drastically different than state bear management staff, who claimed that they stood behind their numbers 100%. The lack of scientific agreement led to the latest impasse on opening the bear hunting season, which normally targets many sows with their cubs as they come out of hibernation. The science behind the number of sows and their lactating state at the time of their killing, caused a rift between the two groups on the Commission.

Koontz resigned saying:

“I accepted your appointment with the understanding that I would participate in the Commission’s supervising authority and policy-making to oversee the Fish & Wildlife Department’s actions. Unfortunately, I found that I had no meaningful role in protecting the public’s wildlife trust. The Commission is currently stuck in a politicized quagmire. We have largely lost the ability to have civil public conversations.”

Fred Koontz Resignation letter

I talked to another commissioner, Lorna Smith, who is from Jefferson County, about Fred’s resignation:

I’m very saddened over Fred’s departure. His voice of scientific reason was well appreciated. His ability to bring independent science to the discussions was always welcome . I have hope and confidence that the governor will realize that this impasse is not beneficial to Washington’s wildlife or it’s residents and will appoint commissioners quickly to the three open positions to help carry out his conservation goals.

Commissioner Lorna Smith

Commissioner Smith went on to urge people who care about the issue to contact the governor and urge him to see that the next appointment to the commission are made quickly have a broad conservation values.

Read one version of the story at the Seattle Times.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/washington-wildlife-commissioner-resigns-citing-politicized-quagmire/


Also, a well written short piece in an online magazine devoted to hunting detailed some of the issues in more depth from their perspective:

https://freerangeamerican.us/washington-wildlife-commish-resigns/

The PDN reporter Michael Carmen also covered the appointment of Koontz and Smith in the Peninsula Daily News in January 2021. I referenced it in this blog. Here’s the link, but the story is behind a paywall. https://www.peninsuladailynews.com/sports/conservation-common-thread-for-new-members-of-washington-state-fish-and-wildlife-commission/


The Official Press Release from WDFW:

OLYMPIA – Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Fred Koontz, Ph.D. sent a letter today to Gov. Jay Inslee resigning from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission. Dr. Koontz resides in King County and occupied an “at-large” position of the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Dr. Koontz was appointed on Jan. 5, 2021 by Gov. Inslee to a six-year term that was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2026.

“We appreciate Fred’s engagement and curious mind on the Commission,” said Fish and Wildlife Commission Chair Larry Carpenter. “He encouraged us to be bold in our mission and we enjoyed his passion for biodiversity conservation.”

The Commission is comprised of nine commissioners, including three members from west of the Cascade Mountains, three members from east of the Cascade Mountains, and three “at-large” members who may reside anywhere in the state. No two Commission members may reside in the same county.

There are now two vacancies on the Commission. Gov. Inslee will need to appoint an “at-large” position and an Eastern Washington position. (Fred’s resignation makes that three vacancies)

Commission appointees are subject to confirmation by the state Senate, which will reconvene in January 2022. However, members are official upon appointment and serve as voting members on the Commission while awaiting Senate confirmation.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is a panel appointed by the governor that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). WDFW works to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities. 

Jay Inslee & WA lawmakers propose electric vehicle rebates and other climate initiatives ahead of legislative session – Seattle Times

Good news on the state wide climate legislation front. Beyond helping finance electric bikes and cars for couple under $500k in income and $250k for singles, the legislation would provide economic pathways towards installing solar panels for a variety of state, local, tribal and NGOs.

Governor Inslee at COP26 (photo by Governor’s Press Office)

There has been some confusion about whether or not the state has *forced* the ending of natural gas heat in new construction. This legislation would give incentives for ending natural gas use, and proposes to end it’s use by 2034. Previous legislation to end natural gas use by 2030 died in committee last session. Nothing is certain at this point, as this is just a proposal and if readers are being told differently, I would love to see the source of that information. I have been unable to find anything saying differently, even on right wing news outlets.

“The amount of carbon emissions that we will have to reduce to meet that legally binding commitment is equivalent to the emissions of taking 1.3 million vehicles off the road,” said the governor. “We have some real work to do starting today.”

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/jay-inslee-washington-lawmakers-propose-electric-vehicle-rebates-and-other-climate-initiatives-ahead-of-legislative-session/

EVENT: Science Panel to discuss Puget Sound Recovery issues Dec 16

If you are following the recovery efforts of the Puget Sound Partnership and care about what the next steps in the long running restoration of the Sound are going to be for 2022, this is likely one of the most important meetings of the year.


MEDIA CONTACT: Kevin Hyde, kevin.hyde@psp.wa.gov 

The Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel will meet on Thursday, December 16, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the December 16 Science Panel meeting will be a virtual Zoom meeting for all participants and the public.

Zoom instructions are included in the meeting agenda, which is available through our board meetings page: https://psp.wa.gov/board_meetings.php

Meeting highlights include:

  • A presentation for discussion about legislative and budget priorities for the 2022 Washington State legislative session. This session will include a presentation of the Partnership staff’s ranking of 2022 supplemental budget requests, Project Olga legislative recommendations, and input received from boards and advisory groups. Presentation by Don Gourlie, legislative policy director at the Puget Sound Partnership.
  • A presentation for discussion about the Washington State Academy of Sciences (WSAS) study on Net Ecological Gain. WSAS is advising the state legislature on a net ecological gain standard for state land use, development, and environmental laws to achieve a goal of better statewide performance on ecological health and endangered species recovery. Presentation by Ron Thom, member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, staff scientist emeritus at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and senior science advisor for the Puget Sound Partnership. 
  • A presentation for discussion on cumulative effects evaluation and case study application to Puget Sound recovery. A cumulative effects evaluation is a tool to evaluate recovery progress and effectiveness by analyzing the cumulative benefits of recovery actions across large spatial and temporal scales. This presentation will include discussion of how the peer-reviewed methodology for a cumulative effects evaluation can be applied in Puget Sound. Presentation by Elene Trujillo, effectiveness monitoring analyst at the Puget Sound Partnership, Annelise Del Rio, monitoring performance analyst/salmon scientist at the Puget Sound Partnership, Ron Thom, staff scientist emeritus at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and senior science advisor for the Puget Sound Partnership, and Gary Johnson, retired research scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  • A presentation and discussion about the Science Panel’s 2022 work plan and the shared priorities of the Partnership’s boards. This session will include discussion of existing topics and new topics for the Science Panel’s 2022 work plan and a review of the board’s 2021 priorities. Presentation by Jillian Reitz, boards policy advisor at the Puget Sound Partnership.
  • A presentation and discussion about identifying actions to include in the 2022-2026 Action Agenda. Partnership staff will update the Panel on the process to identify actions to include in the 2022-2026 Action Agenda update. Partnership staff will also invite the Panel to continue discussing its role in implementing this Action Agenda. Presentation by Dan Stonington, planning manager at the Puget Sound Partnership.
  • A presentation for discussion about the application of econometric cost models to fish passage barriers. This session will include an overview of a report on using econometric and machine learning methods to project the restoration costs for 27,000 barrier culverts documented in state inventories. Presentation by Braeden Van Deynze, postdoctoral research associate with the University of Washington’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, and Robby Fonner, economist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center. 


The full Science Panel agenda and meeting materials are available through our board meetings page at: https://psp.wa.gov/board_meetings.php.

If you need special accommodations to participate in this meeting, please notify Boards Policy Advisor Jillian Reitz at 360.742.2936.


About the Science Panel

The Science Panel’s expertise and advice are critical to the Puget Sound Partnership’s efforts to develop a comprehensive, science-based plan to restore Puget Sound. The members, appointed by the Leadership Council, are chosen from the top scientists in Washington State.

About the Puget Sound Partnership

The Puget Sound Partnership is the state agency formed to lead the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. Working with hundreds of government agencies, tribes, scientists, businesses, and nonprofits, the Partnership mobilizes partner action around a common agenda, advances Sound investments, and tracks progress to optimize recovery.

For more information, go to www.psp.wa.gov.

Navy loses court battle with Whidbey Island environmental organizations and Washington State.

In a dramatic conclusion to a long running court battle over the expansion of the Whidbey Island Naval Base, the District Court of Washington Judge Richard Creatura has forced the Navy to sit down with State’s Attorney General office and the environmental groups led by Citizen’s of the Ebey’s Reserve (COER) and Paula Spina, to forge an agreement to satisfy some of the issues raised by the environmental groups. The judge was scathing in his findings against the Navy’s work in their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). His language could not be more clear,”the Navy appears to have used certain statistics “‘much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.’ “

Whidbey Island Naval Base

While the groups did not win all their demands, they won what likely will be the most critical issues. Here is a condensed version of the judge’s findings. I cannot improve on his language.

Plaintiffs challenge the Navy’s 2018 final environmental impact statement (“FEIS”) and 2019 record of decision authorizing t he expansion of EA-18G “Growler” aircraft operations at the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (“NASWI”) under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), the National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”), These statutes mandate a procedure that an agency must follow before taking an action as significant as the Growler expansion at NASWI.

Under NEPA and the APA, the Navy’s decision may be overturned if the Navy acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” and failed to take a “hard look” at the consequences of the proposed action.

Here, despite a gargantuan administrative record, covering nearly 200,000 pages of studies, reports, comments, and the like, the Navy selected methods of evaluating the data that supported its goal of increasing Growler operations. The Navy did this at the expense of the public and the environment, turning a blind eye to data that would not support this intended result. Or, to borrow the words of noted sports analyst Vin Scully, the Navy appears to have used certain statistics “much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.”


When reporting on the environmental impact of Growler fuel emissions, the Navy underreported the true amount of Growler fuel emissions and failed to disclose that it was not including any emissions for flights above 3,000 feet. Even after receiving a comment on the issue, the Navy failed to disclose its underreporting and dismissed the issue with broad generalities.


With respect to the impact of this increased operation on childhood learning, the Navy acknowledged numerous studies that concluded that aircraft noise would measurably impact learning but then arbitrarily concluded that because it could not quantify exactly how the increased operations would interfere with childhood learning, no further analysis was necessary.

As to the impact of increased jet noise on various bird species, the Navy repeatedly stated that increased noise would have species-specific impacts on the many bird species in the affected area but then failed to conduct a species-specific analysis to determine if some species would be more affected than others. Instead, the Navy simply concluded that certain species were not adversely affected and then extrapolated that all the other species would not be affected, either.


Regarding evaluating reasonable alternatives to the Growler expansion at NASWI, which the Navy was required to do, the Navy rejected moving the Growler operations to El Centro, California out of hand, summarily concluding that such a move would cost too much and that moving the operation to that location would have its own environmental challenges. The Navy’s cursory rationale was arbitrary and capricious and does not provide a valid basis to reject the El Centro alternative.


For these reasons, the Court recommends that the District Court find the FEIS violated the NEPA and grant all summary judgment motions in part and deny them in part. Also, the Court grants plaintiffs leave to submit extra record evidence to address certain issues. Assuming the District Court follows this recommendation, it should order supplemental briefing regarding the appropriate remedy for the NEPA violations described herein.

This blog has argued for years that the only way to stop environmental degradation is with lawsuits. Once again, as we have seen against the aquaculture industry and the Army Corps of Engineers, the legal system continues to be the last bastion of hope against the flood of money, hubris, greed and incompetence that continue to attempt (and sometimes succeed) and permeate many of our public funded agencies. Our politicians so rarely step up and stand up to these agencies, leaving it up to us to fund and fight them. To those supporters of the Navy base, including both Democrats and Republicans, it’s clear that the Navy did not do it’s job, nor did it consider moving the base, which the judge said should have been considered. The environmental argument is not anti-navy, it’s pro environment.

Thanks to Attorney General Bob Ferguson for taking a very hard stand against a very large foe. And thanks to COER for their never ending optimism in this battle. They have not won the war, but a significant battle for protection of our environment.

The actual judge’s findings are here:

https://citizensofebeysreserve.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=bb176b9f46ee71c04272e9f33&id=44766c27d8&e=cc55e62a2d

PT City Council Approves Water Contract Update

An update based on the Sierra Club’s Peter Guerrero’s take on this. And also my thoughts at the end.


On Monday, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the new water agreement that includes raises in the cost of water to city residents, along with a new contract with the PT Paper Mill and improvements to the pipeline infrastructure. The agreement incorporates the Sierra Club’s recommendations for charging the mill for water used ($4.5 million/year) and for increasing these charges, over time, to encourage conservation. Unfortunately, the agreement establishes the current mill water usage of 11MGD/day as the baseline without seeking any reductions, resulting in the mill continuing to account for over 91% of all water consumed from the Quilcene watershed.

Both the mill and the city got what they wanted: The mill was assured of being able to continue using up to 11MGD while the city was able to put together a “partnership” that avoided having to go to the bond market and that was of a sufficient duration (20 years), avoiding draconian residential rate increases. It was more important for the city to get the mill to offset the steep capital costs of the Olympic Ground Water System (OGWS) than to achieve the kind of conservation gains the Sierra Club and other environmental activists would have liked to see.


Unfortunately, it is likely to be an unstable agreement given the past economic history of the mill and its aging infrastructure. Both suggest the mill may not be around for the full 20-year term of the agreement, leaving the city having to pay tens of millions for infrastructure improvements anyway. Knowing this, the city also voted last night to unanimously to create an industrial water rate, allowing it to sell water to another entity (industrial, PUD, etc.) if needed.


The next debate will be over increases to residential rates required by the agreement. Residential ratepayers have already expressed concern that they are “paying” for the mill’s excessive water use. Unfortunately the city doesn’t see a viable alternative at this time.


Environmentalists will have a second opportunity come 2025-2029 when the USFS will be reconsidering the city’s special use permit allowing it to withdraw water from the Quilcene Watershed.


I would also like to add that one thing I learned by listening to the discussion and reading the agreement is that we are extremely vulnerable to the impending climate changes that are unfolding around us. One issue that was mentioned was that the city looked into substituting well water for the water coming from the mountains and found that there is not nearly enough to supply our needs, let alone the mill. My personal take on the agreement is that it could have been set to a 10 year renewal, given the changing climate. It was also odd that there is no mention of the impact of our taking of significant water from the rivers, given the efforts to restore salmon in those streams. It certainly was never considered in the original setup of the water system.

It also brings up the issue of growth of the city. As new housing developments continue at the roundabout on Discovery Road and also on Cook Avenue there will be a need for more water for the city. The mill is guaranteed 11 MGD. But if the city increases water use, there is more revenue for the OGWS. This is a perverse reversal of conservation, the built reward to grow the city’s water use by greater development in order to lower water costs for all. But the caveat is that if there’s drought conditions and the water is not at the level needed, and does not replenish the holding lakes, we could be in for greater conservation and higher rates.

The water is stored in two holding lakes and we usually end up shifting to drawing from them exclusively by mid summer. As the planet warms and the snow packs become lessened, we will be drawing on those lakes sooner and sooner in the year. That day is coming in the next two to five years, once those large scale developments are built out. That was not discussed by the City Council. Not even a question on it, unless I missed it.

.  

Evaluating targets for reducing carbon emissions. NY Times

An interesting series in the New York Times called Hindsight has been evaluating business and government pledges on various social issues such as global warming, deforestation, drinking water availability and other social crisis’ that have brought attention and demands for change.

This week, they looked at promises made in the 2010 timeframe to lower carbon emissions in the EU. What did they find that’s interesting to us on the Peninsula? That Biomass was thrown in with the mix of “solutions” and that it is not a solution at all.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/02/climate/europe-climate-pledge-carbon-emissions.html?referringSource=articleShare

Back in around 2010, this blog covered the efforts of then State Representative Kevin Van De Wege to promote biomass as a solution to lowering energy costs and protecting the environment. His work was based on research by WSU that resulted in a paper that was heralded as as a reason to promote using clear cut slash (also known as ‘hog fuel’) to burn to create electricity. No environmental organizations at that time bought the idea, though it was passed using a special designation of calling it “experimental” in the bill. It never was taken off experimental status.

Rep Van de Wege understandably promoted it because it gave more jobs to out of work loggers here on the Peninsula and incentivized pulp plants in P.A., Port Townsend and Shelton to experiment with burning hog fuel. Concerns by environmental organizations were ignored in order to allow the companies to build the plants and start using the fuel. Ultimately, all attempts to make this source of energy failed. Additionally, as the NY Times article points out, it actually made things worse.

As one drives around 101 on the Peninsula these days, it is impossible not to notice the enormous amounts of clear cuts going on, from west of the Hood Canal Bridge to Port Angeles. The stacks of slash are sitting in massive piles, some burning, some just rotting. With them go any hope of using the vast forest resources of the Peninsula to sequester carbon for reasons documented in the article above.

Jolene Unsoeld dead at 89 – Post Alley

Jolene Unsoeld

A Tribute to Congresswoman Jolene Unsoeld, Dead at 89, and her ‘Life of Wild Adventure’ by Joel Connely

One of the true heros for many. She stood for her principles. Something most politicians on the left seem unwilling to do anymore. We live in a world that attempts to placate everyone, while the environment dies and the homeless fill our streets and parks. Thank you Jolene for all you did and all you stood for in a full life.

Former U.S. Rep. Jolene Unsoeld, who died at home Monday at the age of 89, was an individual of boundless energy and enthusiasm. My visual image, from covering her, was of Unsoeld running down the halls in Congress, usually late for a meeting, with a big bag of working papers slung over her shoulder. A poster in the Unsoeld Olympia home summed up a life forever on the move: “A ship in a harbor is safe. But that’s not what ships are for.”

Post Alley

Washington state seeks tighter wastewater rules for Puget Sound, but sewage plant operators push back  – Seattle Times

This could be quite costly for small rural communities like ours. Can we find financial support to help upgrade our plants without massive increases in sewage costs?

…The state’s Ecology Department will decide as soon as the end of the month whether to issue a new general permit for all 58 sewage plants around the Sound. Ecology argues that as more people live here, it’s imperative they not contribute more nitrogen, which comes from their urine, and worsen low dissolved oxygen levels. These levels already occur in some parts of Puget Sound, especially in the summer. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Seattle Times

Washington state seeks tighter wastewater rules for Puget Sound, but sewage plant operators push back 

Governor Inslee appoints Kate Dean to the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council

Photo
Good news. Kate is an excellent choice. She has done a great job in her current roles, including chairing the regional ecosystem coordination board. She cares about the environment and the recovery of the Sound, having put in many hundreds of hours in the mandatory dull meetings prioritizing lists of environmental work and debating funding different projects. Having a voice from rural counties is badly needed. As a County Commissioner, she is deeply involved in issues that directly impact the Strait and the Hood Canal.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 24, 2021

MEDIA CONTACT: Kevin Hyde, 360.819.3045, kevin.hyde@psp.wa.gov 
OLYMPIA — Governor Jay Inslee has appointed Kate Dean to the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council, the governing body of the Puget Sound Partnership. Dean is a Jefferson County Commissioner for District 1, Port Townsend, and has served on the Puget Sound Partnership’s Ecosystem Coordination Board, which advises the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council on carrying out its responsibilities.

“With her knowledge and passion, Kate will make great contributions to the Puget Sound Partnership’s work to achieve a healthy, resilient Puget Sound,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “Her experience with local economic development issues, her understanding of rural communities, and her leadership as a Jefferson County Commissioner and member of the Partnership’s Ecosystem Coordination Board all make her an outstanding addition to the Leadership Council.”

“I am really excited about Kate Dean joining the Leadership Council,” said Jay Manning, chair of the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council. “She has already proven herself as an effective and passionate advocate for restoring Puget Sound to good health and she will make the Leadership Council a stronger voice for recovery. We just issued the 2021 State of the Sound report and it is clear that what we as a society are doing now to protect and restore Puget Sound is not enough. Kate, and her experience as a County Commissioner, will help us make the hard decisions we need to make to save Puget Sound.”Dean was elected to the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners in 2017. She moved to Jefferson County in 1999 and spent 10 years farming and working to grow the local food economy through businesses she co-founded, including FinnRiver Farm and Mt. Townsend Creamery. Her experience as an entrepreneur is critical to her understanding of the local economy and community.

Dean left the farm but didn’t go far; she started a consulting business that had her working on natural resource and rural economic development issues locally and regionally. She coordinated the Jefferson Landworks Collaborative (a farmland preservation and enterprise development initiative), managed Washington State University Extension’s Small Farm Program, worked for Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, and was the regional director for the North Olympic Development Council, a council of governments tasked with community and economic development. Dean has served on the Ecosystem Coordination Board as the alternate for Rep. Steve Tharinger, representing the Strait of Juan de Fuca Action Area since 2017, and representing Puget Sound counties since early 2021. In 2019, Dean proposed the board form a land use subcommittee to work on identifying tools, policies, and funding mechanisms to support the participation of counties and cities in the protection and recovery of Puget Sound. Since then, she has co-chaired the land use subcommittee, which includes many of the local elected officials on the board and representatives from tribal, state, and federal governments. She also helped draft a protocol for the board to rotate meetings around the Puget Sound to co-host local forums.

The purpose of the local forums is to expand local decision-maker engagement with the Puget Sound recovery community and discuss local priorities.Dean holds her Master of Public Administration degree from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. Her publications include USDA Farmland Changing Hands and Preparing for Climate Change on the North Olympic Peninsula. In her spare time, Dean can be found gardening, riding her bike, or in the mountains with her two teenagers.“It’s an honor to be appointed to such a committed group as the Leadership Council,” Dean said. “I’m pleased that the Partnership sees the value of having local government represented in this critical work. A healthy Puget Sound is essential to a rural county like mine and I look forward to working on a regional scale to protect and restore it.””I’m delighted that Kate is joining the Leadership Council,” said Laura Blackmore, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. “In her work as a Jefferson County Commissioner, Ecosystem Coordination Board member, and regular attendee at Puget Sound Day on the Hill, she has shown her commitment to Puget Sound recovery and her passion for connecting with partners. I know that she will help us advance our work toward a resilient Puget Sound.”Dean’s term on the Leadership Council runs through June 25, 2025. She fills the vacancy recently left by Stephanie Solien, who served on the council for seven years. Solien recently served as vice chair for the Leadership Council and was co-chair of the Southern Resident Orca Task Force. 

About the Leadership Council
The Leadership Council is the governing body of the Puget Sound Partnership. Its seven members are leading citizens chosen from around the Sound and appointed by the Governor to serve four-year terms. Jay Manning currently chairs the Leadership Council.

About the Puget Sound Partnership

The Puget Sound Partnership is the state agency formed to lead the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. Working with hundreds of government agencies, tribes, scientists, businesses, and nonprofits, the Partnership mobilizes partner action around a common agenda, advances Sound investments, and tracks progress to optimize recovery. For more information, go to www.psp.wa.gov.

Part 2 – Brinnon Resort’s unpaid bills to Jefferson County

In the first part of our short series, we explored the issue of the Statesman Group, an international developer out of Canada, and it’s unpaid bills to Jefferson County for work the county did for them on behalf of approving the Pleasant Harbor Resort. The resort, a large Master Planned Resort (MPR), has been the issue of contention since it was unveiled back in the early 2000s. The County gave a green light to develop, with numerous requirements to be met. In exchange, the County, because of the lack of employees due to the financial aftermath of the real estate crash of 2008-09 offered to do a great deal of work to expedite the approvals in exchange for being paid agreed upon sums for the work. It was a reasonable thing to do, given the financial situation the County was in at that time. Though the County did do a great deal of work it was paid for between 2008 and 2016, starting in 2016 Statesman started challenging the invoices. For some reason, this dispute has gone on for 6 years, totaling over $190,000, money the County can ill afford and a situation most of us would never be allowed to do as individuals or small time developers.

Since this dispute started, Statesman has received permission by the Department of Natural Resources to log the property, and according to my sources, they have. This logging activity most likely generated revenue for Statesman.

The County has been involved in negotiations with the Statesman group for many months now, records revealed through Public Records Act requests have shown that County attorney Philip Hunsucker and County officials have been going back and forth for years seeking to receive payments from Statesman. Mr. Hunsucker has stated the following in letters to Stateman’s attorney in May of 2021:

  • “Your client previously paid without question invoices with the same sort of detail in the so-called “block bills” he is now complaining about.”
  • “…when the County tried to get your client to pay invoices in January 2017, he refused”
  • “Some of the work the County did with tribes also was necessary to address your client’s missteps with the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe (PGST).”
  • “Significant work was required by the County to ensure that all MOU’s and environmental reports required by Ordinance No. 01-1028-08 were completed, including the Water Quality Management Plan and the Wildlife Management Plan. This issue also coincides with the need to coordinate with tribes. The PGST provided detailed and substantive comments to Water Quality Management Plan and the Wildlife Management Plan that had to be addressed”

Mr. Hunsucker also offered a 5% discount on the bill if they paid immediately.

The question that has been asked by many in the opposition to this MPR, is “What other business in Jefferson County would be allowed to not pay hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to the County for work done over six years and then offered a discount to pay these late bills?”

A logical follow up to this question is, “Why can’t the County issue a stop work order to Statesman until these bills are paid?

This reporter reached out to former County Commissioner John Austin, who was one of the commissioners that approved this MPR in the first place. His comment was, “It’s very distressing to me that they have not followed their agreement with the County.” He went on to state that he would likely have been reluctant to approve this MPR if he knew that this would have been the outcome.

It would be informative to get an official statement from the County as to why they have not issued a stop work order on this development until bills are paid. On Page 62 of the 2017 agreement with Statesman, it states:

(11) Violations and Penalties. The administrator is authorized to enforce the provisions of this article whenever he or she determines that a condition exists in violation of this article or permit issued hereunder. All violations of any provisions of this article, incorporated standard or permit issued. pursuant to this article are made subject to the provisions of Chapter 18.50 JCC, which provides for voluntary correction, notice and orders to correct the violation, stop work and emergency orders, and
assessment of civil penalties
(emphasis added).

https://test.co.jefferson.wa.us/weblinkexternal/ElectronicFile.aspx?dbid=0&docid=1899761&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

Additional investigations by the Brinnon Group have found the following brochure put out by Statesman. It raises the specter that Statesman does not have the financial resources to complete this project.

A redflag on Statesman finances was raised back in August, 2016, when the company distributed a flyer that proposed public financing of the Pleasant Harbor development…. Statesman proposed a $2,000,000 “Recreational Community Grant” from Jefferson County. A transfer of about 30 acres of the Pleasant Harbor site to the state for another Recreational Community Grant in the amount of $9,250,000 was proposed (a cost of over $308,000/acre of undeveloped, vacant land), as well as a $26,500,000 loan from the state. These requests totaled almost $38,000,000 in corporate welfare to Statesman. During this time in 2016, while Statesman was asking for public money for its project, it was not paying its bills to Jefferson County.

From email provided by The Brinnon Group

Additionally, according to a letter sent earlier this month to the County, raises the issue of whether the County is crossing a legal line by allowing this situation to continue. And at what point is it considered bad debt and written off?

Article 8, Section 7 of the Washington Constitution states: “No county, city, town or other municipal corporation shall hereafter give any money, or property, or loan its money, or credit to or in aid of any individual, association, company or corporation . . .” (emphasis added).

From email provided by The Brinnon Group

The Brinnon group is asking that the County take steps to ensure that Statesman can finance this project. They ask, quite reasonably it would seem to most individuals here, that the County require financial security or a bond for payment to the County, such as an irrevocable line of credit from an established financial institution. The question also might be asked, “Why hasn’t the County already done that?”

How much longer are the taxpayers of this county expected to wait before the bills that are due them are paid? Who else would get this kind of kid glove treatment by county officials?

A great deal more background on this can be found on the website of The Brinnon Group, the citizens who have been opposing this development since the beginning. http://www.brinnongroup.org/

Conservation Groups Challenge Washington’s Artificial “Fix” to  Southern Resident Killer Whale and Salmon Recovery 

This in from the Wild Fish Conservancy. After trying to move the needle with the WDF&W they have decided that the courts need to get involved. The State should not be allowed to ignore the very laws that it imposes on everyone that lives here, simply to try scientifically dubious efforts to appease special interest groups. To be clear, see the items I’ve boldfaced below to highlight the criticality of this lawsuit.


October 13, 2021— This week, conservation organizations Wild Fish Conservancy and The Conservation Angler  filed suit against the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for its repeated refusal to follow state  environmental laws when setting statewide hatchery policy, including when it recently embarked upon a massive  expansion in the production of hatchery salmon that could cause irreparable damage to fragile wild fish  populations and to endangered Southern Resident killer whales. 

Filed in King County Superior Court, the lawsuit alleges that the Department has been ignoring the requirements  of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) since 2018, when it suspended key components of a science-based  hatchery reform policy designed to prevent state hatcheries from continuing to contribute to the decline of wild  populations of salmon and steelhead and from impeding their recovery. This significant action to abandon  science-based hatchery reform was taken without any public notice and was widely criticized, including in a  letter signed by 77 prominent fisheries and orca scientists and advocates, who called on Governor Inslee to  reinstate the science-based policy recommendations and another letter delivered to the Washington legislature by  five former Fish and Wildlife Commissioners responsible for implementing the hatchery reform policy in the  early 2000’s. 

After neutralizing the safeguards provided by this hatchery reform policy, the lawsuit alleges, the Department  began to massively increase hatchery production of Chinook, coho, and chum salmon at state run facilities,  purportedly to provide more food for Southern Resident killer whales. However, the Department did not support its hatchery expansion plan with any evidence that the Southern Resident killer whales would actually eat or be  sustained by hatchery salmon. Killer whale scientists agree the whales subsist primarily upon older and larger  Chinook that are found almost exclusively in the native Chinook populations that hatcheries have failed to  produce, protect, or restore.  

Even worse, the Department refused to engage in the SEPA process, including drafting an environmental impact  statement that would have assessed any and all potential adverse impacts of the proposed hatchery expansion on  both threatened wild salmon and steelhead populations and on the starving Southern Resident killer whales.  Hatcheries have long been recognized as one of the four primary threats to wild fish populations.  

“The Department took a big gamble, with the only certain payoff going to Washington’s fishing industry, while  all the risks are borne by our orcas and wild salmon populations,” said David Moskowitz, Executive Director of  The Conservation Angler. “But state environmental law does not allow the Department to risk the future of our  fish and wildlife on such an unproven strategy—it requires our agencies to make well-informed decisions based  

on a careful analysis of the potential adverse environmental impacts of their actions.” 

In 2020, at the same time the Department was actively implementing massive hatchery increases without  environmental scrutiny, the Department released a report titled ‘A review of hatchery reform science in  Washington State’ that found “hatcheries have potential for large magnitude ecological impacts on natural  populations that are not well understood, not typically evaluated and not measured” and that “…a focus on  efficiency and maximizing abundance prevents widespread implementation of risk reduction measures.”  

What’s more, the report recommended that prior to increasing hatchery programs, more environmental review  was necessary to evaluate cumulative hatchery effects and to ensure increases wouldn’t harm wild fish recovery,  warning large-scale hatchery production “can magnify the political pressure to take advantage of abundant  hatchery runs at the expense of natural populations” and concluding that increasing program size can raise both  “ecological and genetic risks”. The authors warned that “a rigorous justification for program size is essential for  implementing scientifically defensible hatchery programs.” 

“No doubt, many people supported the state’s ‘Orca Prey Initiative’ with the best of intentions, because it  was presented to the public as a scientifically-credible and rigorously vetted solution to feeding the  starving population of Southern Resident killer whales. The problem is that scientists know that producing  more hatchery fish is not going to solve the problem, and will likely make this crisis worse”, said Kurt  Beardslee, Executive Director of Wild Fish Conservancy. 

“As ridiculous as it sounds, reducing overharvest of the whales’ primary food wasn’t even considered as  an acceptable solution by the Governor’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force and other resource managers.  Instead, the plight of the Southern Residents provided an opportunity for powerful commercial and  recreational fishing interests to push for massive increases in hatchery production, putting our orcas and  wild salmon at even greater risk”, Beardslee says. 

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Wild Fish Conservancy is a conservation ecology organization dedicated to conservation, protection, and  restoration of wild fish ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest. wildfishconservancy.org 

The Conservation Angler fights for the protection of wild Pacific anadromous fish populations throughout the  Northwest, all the way to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. theconservationangler.org 

Wild Fish Conservancy and The Conservation Angler are represented in this matter by Animal & Earth  Advocates, PLLC of Seattle, Washington.

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