Local Supporters Cheer House Passage of Wild Olympics Bill as part of NDAA

Olympic Peninsula Tribes, Sportsmen groups, business leaders, and local officials cite benefits to local economy, clean water, and salmon recovery

QUILCENE, Wash. (July 22, 2020) –The Wild Olympics Coalition cheered a major bipartisan vote in Congress yesterday that helped advance important public lands and rivers legislation forward, including the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act sponsored by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06), which passed with a number of other public land bills as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. The Wild Olympics legislation would permanently protect more than 126,500 acres of Olympic National Forest as wilderness and 19 rivers and their major tributaries – a total of 464 river miles – as Wild and Scenic Rivers. Designed through extensive community input to protect ancient forests and clean water and enhance outdoor recreation, the legislation would designate the first new wilderness in the Olympic National Forest in nearly three decades and the first-ever protected wild and scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.

The bipartisan vote in favor of the legislation included strong support from Washington and California representatives Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith who supported the amendment to the NDAA. The Wild Olympics legislation was passed by the House earlier this February. Given the few legislative days left in this legislative session, the NDAA offers an opportunity to advance the bill in both Houses of congress. A similar legislative strategy was used in 2014 by Senators Murray and Cantwell and Representatives Reichert and DelBene to attach legislation to expand Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers in the Alpine Lakes and Ilabott Creek, the last major wilderness & wild and scenic bills for WA, which were passed in the 2014 NDAA.

 

“As someone who grew up on the Olympic Peninsula, I learned first-hand that economic growth and environmental protection go hand-in-hand,” said Representative Kilmer.“Adding this practical, balanced strategy to today’s bill will help us protect some of the most environmentally sensitive places on the Peninsula. It will also ensure we can keep and grow jobs in our natural resource industries and other sectors. I am grateful for the years-long collaboration to create a proposal that works for folks across the community – including Tribes, sportsmen, conservation groups, timber communities, business leaders, shellfish growers, and everyone in-between.”

Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer spent years gathering extensive community input on the Olympic Peninsula to craft the carefully balanced legislation. It would permanently preserve ancient and mature forests, critical salmon habitat, and sources of clean drinking water for local communities, while also protecting and expanding world-class outdoor recreation opportunities like hiking, camping, boating, hunting, and fishing. No roads would be closed, and trailhead access would not be affected.

Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer worked extensively with local and regional timber interests to remove any currently viable timber base from the proposal to ensure the legislation would have no impact on existing timber jobs, as confirmed in a 2012 Timber Impact Study by the respected independent Forester Derek Churchill.

Aberdeen Forest Products Consultant and Former Timber CEO Roy Nott said in his July 10th testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee, “My own experience as a CEO and Entrepreneur is that our area’s natural treasures- which provide world-class outdoor recreation, clean water and our area’s high quality of living- are what give us a competitive edge over other regions in attracting and retaining the talented people new companies require.  Wilderness and wild and scenic river protections would help protect and grow the local jobs that depend on our ability to compete for talent against other regions, and they would enhance our recruitment efforts as we work to grow new businesses in the future. And as a former Timber Industry Executive, I appreciate that Senator Murray and Rep Kilmer’s final compromise proposal was scaled-back to ensure it would not impact current timber jobs.”

The House passage comes on a wave of support from over 100 new endorsements rallying behind the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. The new additions bring the total number of local Olympic Peninsula & Hood Canal region endorsements to more than”800” endorsers, including the Quinault, Quileute, Elwha and Jamestowns’ Klallam Tribes; over 30 local “sportsmen” organizations and fishing guides; the mayors of Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Ocean Shores and Elma; businesses and CEOs; farms and faith leaders; conservation and outdoor recreation groups; and many others. Additionally, more than 12,000 local residents have signed petitions in support.

 

TESTIMONIALS

 

Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe Chairwoman, Frances Charles: “The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (“Lower Elwha”) strongly supports the proposed Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and appreciates Sen. Murray’s and Rep. Kilmer’s sponsorship of this important legislation. We believe that it represents a fair compromise between potentially competing interests of preservation, economic use, and recreation. This legislation creates 126,600 acres of new wilderness and nineteen new wild and scenic rivers designations in the Olympic National Forest, the Olympic National Park and Washington State Department of Natural Resource-managed land. For Lower Elwha, the most important aspect of these new designations is the increased protection for salmon habitat. And we appreciate that it expressly acknowledges the fundamental interests and expertise of all treaty tribes in the restoration of fish habitat. This is an important complement to our ongoing successes, along with our federal and State partners, in restoring Elwha River fisheries in the aftermath of dam removal.”

 

Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp: Our Tribe urges swift passage of the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. As stated in the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission’s “Treaty Rights at Risk” report, “Salmon recovery is based on the crucial premise that we can protect what habitat remains while we restore previously degraded habitat conditions. Unfortunately, significant investments in recovery may not be realized because the rate of habitat loss continues to outpace restoration. The resulting net decline in habitat demonstrates the federal government’s failure to protect the Tribes’ treaty-reserved rights.” In an era where we are witnessing unprecedented rollbacks of environmental safeguards on federal public lands, the Wild Olympics legislation would permanently protect some of the healthiest, intact salmon habitat left on the Peninsula.

 

Quileute Tribal Council Chairman Douglas Woodruff Jr. “The Quileute Tribe supports passage of the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. It represents a well-crafted compromise that provides critical protections for fish and wildlife habitat and water quality, while also respecting the treaty rights and management prerogatives of the Quileute Tribe. Protecting the best remaining habitat is imperative as tribal, state and federal governments and citizens throughout the Olympic region commit millions of dollars and incalculable volunteer hours to restoration activities in the face of declining salmon populations, fishing closures, threats to Orcas, and the impacts of climate change.  The current version of the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is a significant and vital step forward to “protect the best,” and the Quileute Tribe urges swift passage of this legislation.”

 

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Chairman Ron Allen: “As stated in the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission’s “Treaty Rights at Risk” report, “Salmon recovery is based on the crucial premise that we can protect what habitat remains while we restore previously degraded habitat conditions.  Unfortunately, significant investments in recovery may not be realized because the rate of habitat loss continues to outpace restoration. “The resulting net decline in habitat demonstrates the federal government’s failure to protect the Tribes’ treaty-reserved rights. ”In an era where we are witnessing unprecedented rollbacks of environmental safeguards on federal public lands, the Wild Olympics legislation would permanently protect some of the healthiest, intact salmon habitat left on the Peninsula. It is our heritage and cultural principles to protect the lands and waters Nature provides, as well as the natural resources she sustains.  Therefore, we do continue to support and urge swift passage of the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.”

 

Aberdeen Forest Products Consultant & Former Timber CEO Roy Nott: “My own experience as a CEO and Entrepreneur is that our area’s natural treasures – which provide world-class outdoor recreation, clean water and our area’s high quality of living – are what give us a competitive edge over other regions in attracting and retaining the talented people new companies require.  Wilderness and wild and scenic river protections would help protect and grow the local jobs that depend on our ability to compete for talent against other regions, and they would enhance our recruitment efforts as we work to grow new businesses in the future. And as a former Timber Industry Executive, I appreciate that Senator Murray and Rep Kilmer’s final compromise proposal was scaled-back to ensure it would not impact current timber jobs.”

 

Dave Bailey, Past President of the Grey Wolf Fly Fishing Club in Sequim, WA & co-founder of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics: “People think that because our salmon streams on Olympic National Forest appear as they’ve always been, that they are safe. Unfortunately, that’s the furthest thing from the truth.” There are determined threats underway by Congress and the Administration to roll back current safeguards and open these sensitive spawning streams to small hydropower development, industrial clear-cutting and more road building once more.”That’s bad for fish, game, and sportsmen. This legislation is critical to preserve what we have.”

 

Casey Weigel, Owner & Head Guide of Waters West Guide Service (Montesano) and member, of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics: “Through hard work and our passion for our rivers and fishing, my wife and I have grown our small business enough to be able to help 3 other year-round and seasonal local guides support families, who love fishing just as much as we do. I support the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild & Scenic Rivers Act because our rivers and our salmon are our lifeblood and, without them, businesses like ours, the local jobs they support, and the dollars they bring into our local economy would dry up. The Wild Olympics proposal would simply make the current safeguards protecting our rivers on Olympic National Forest permanent. That’s all it does. It doesn’t change access or cost timber jobs. And if it did, I wouldn’t support it, because my family works in the timber industry. There are many challenges facing our rivers and salmon, with lots of debate and millions of dollars spent trying to help restore clean water and habitat downstream. But one basic, simple piece of the foundation we can put in place now that won’t cost any of us anything, is to permanently protect the healthy habitat on the federal lands upstream against any misguided attempts to develop them in the future. That’s why I am a proud supporter of the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. For Our Future.”

 

Ashley Nichole Lewis, Bad Ash Fishing Guide Service (Tahola) and  member, Sportsmen For Wild Olympics: “Conservation for me on the Olympic Peninsula means that the next generation and generations to come can come out here and experience the way that I experience it and the way my grandpa experienced it when he fished out here and that forever we always have this – what is wild and what is the Olympic Peninsula and our culture today.”

 

Bill Taylor, President of Taylor Shellfish Farms (Shelton): “Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer’s Wild Olympics legislation will help protect our state’s shellfish industry, including hundreds of shellfishing jobs in Hood Canal alone – and many more in related industries like processing, shipping and sales. It protects the rivers and streams vital to the health of our hatcheries and to the health and restoration of Puget Sound. Our oyster beds depend on the clean, cold, silt-free water that drains off Olympic National Forest into Hood Canal. Protecting these watersheds allows our industry to grow, expand and continue to benefit the economy and ecology of Washington State. We are grateful for their leadership.”

 

James Thomas, President & CEO Thermedia Corp/MasQs (Shelton): “The Wild Olympics legislation would help protect the outstanding way of life that is an important reason people choose to live, work and play here in Mason County with the stunning backdrop of the Olympic Mountains in our backyard. The ancient forests, wild rivers and scenic beauty of the Olympics are the foundation of our high “Quality of Life” that attracts visitors, entrepreneurs, new residents and investment in our communities, strengthening our local economy. In fact, these spectacular public lands were the final determinant when I chose the Olympic Peninsula as the new home for my medical device manufacturing company.  Ten years later my heart still sings when I round a corner or top a hill and the Olympics come into view.   I applaud Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer for working to protect the Peninsula’s economic future.”

 

Fred Rakevich, Retired logger and 49- year veteran of the timber industry (Elma): “I am a retired logger who worked for fifty years in the timber industry. I have also fished and kayaked most of the major rivers in the Olympics. I was born and raised in Grays Harbor, but have traveled half way around the world. In all my travels, nothing impressed me more than the natural beauty of the Olympic Mountain Range and the clear running waters that begin their journey flowing toward the lands below. Timber is and always will be part of the Olympic Peninsula’s proud heritage. But our ancient forests and wild rivers are the natural legacy we will leave to our children and grandchildren.  Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer’s bill protects our natural heritage while respecting our timber heritage. I thank them for their thoughtful leadership, and future generations will thank them too.”

 

State Representative Mike Chapman, 24th Legislative District (Port Angeles): “I have been very excited about the economic & recreational opportunities Wild Olympics will bring to the Olympic Peninsula. With REI and Patagonia’s support our corner of the world is now attracting visitors from all over. Wild Olympics is our future, for fresh air, clean water, pristine forests and future generations!”

 

Sarah Muszynski, Owner, Blue Horizons Paddlesports (Lake Cushman): “As an outdoor recreation business owner and an avid outdoorsman, my livelihood and lifestyle depend on clean, free-flowing rivers. Visitors to Olympic National Park and businesses like mine annually contribute $220 million in local economic benefits and support 2,708 jobs. This economic benefit depends on access to the high quality natural resources the Olympic Peninsula is known for and protection of those resources. Visitors from around the world come to experience the place we call home. Protecting these resources is an investment in our region’s economic future, and the smart thing to do.”

 

Michelle Sandoval, Port Townsend Mayor (Port Townsend): “This legislation will help permanently protect clean drinking water for local Peninsula communities. For example, one of the places proposed for Wilderness protection is in the Big Quilcene watershed, which filters the clean, cold drinking water for the city of Port Townsend. Protecting forests and rivers on federal lands upstream protects our investments in salmon habitat and water quality downstream. We are grateful for Representative Kilmer’s and Senator Murray’s help in protecting Port Townsend’s clean water.”

 

Harriet Reyenga, Independent realtor for Windermere Real Estate (Port Angeles): “The Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild & Scenic Rivers Act will protect and promote the same spectacular public lands and high quality of life that are helping to drive growth and create local jobs in real estate, construction and many other sectors of our economy today.  Our ancient forests, salmon, rivers and amazing landscapes are the north Olympic Peninsula’s competitive economic advantage over other regions. We should do all we can to protect and promote these natural treasures. The Wild Olympics legislation will do both.”

 

State Representative Steve Tharinger, 24th Legislative District (Sequim): “It is easy to see and understand the ecological value of the Wild Olympics idea, conserving clean and free flowing rivers, but what is sometimes missed is the economic value that maintaining places like Wild Olympics brings by attracting people to the special outdoors of the Olympic region. I want to thank REI and Patagonia for engaging local community leaders like myself to help design the map, and for recognizing that encouraging people to get out and enjoy the special places in the Wild Olympics proposal brings economic benefits to the communities I represent.”

 

Mark and Desiree’ Dodson, Owners Westport Marina Cottages (Westport): “We’re one of the hundreds of local Peninsula businesses backing Wild Olympics because it would protect & promote the same priceless natural treasures that are cornerstones of our economy.  Our ancient temperate rainforests & wild rivers are iconic one-of-kind outdoor recreation destinations that draw visitors & new residents from around the world.”

 

Douglas Scott, Owner of Exotic Hikes and The Outdoor Society (Hood Canal): “Outside my door, the river, forests and mountains of the Olympic Peninsula beckon me to hike and climb. In the Northwest corner of the contiguous United States, far from the hustle and bustle of the big cities, our glacial-fed rivers, full of salmon and surrounded by majestic eagles constantly inspire millions of locals and visitors to the region. Each year, over four million outdoor recreation enthusiasts head to the region, hoping to find a slice of natural beauty in pristine forests and impossibly gorgeous river valleys. As an author, tour guide and advocate for the Olympic Peninsula, I have witnessed the importance of nature and outdoor recreation in the Pacific Northwest. Thanks to the support outdoor enthusiasts from all walks of life, passing the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act will help ensure that even more of the stunning scenery will be protected and accessible for all. I am proud to Support the Wild Olympics. Come visit and fall in love with the beauty of rainforests, wild rivers and breathtaking adventures and you will too.”

 

Contact: Connie Gallant, Chair, Wild Olympics Campaign / connie@wildolympics.org

Wild Olympics Campaign / PO Box 214, Quilcene, WA 98376

Voting in Olympia

Current voting status from our Legislators. Culled from the great folks at Washingtonvotes.org. The Democrats are capitalizing on their majority and governor. They are passing a lot of bills to help the environment. While I am not wild about taxing carbon, (I’d rather see better support for purchasing electric vehicles and power recharging stations), as carbon taxes really don’t change behavior from what I’ve seen, simply make people pay more. Setting quotas on how many electric vehicles are imported for sale here simply penalizes the car dealers if they don’t sell. That’s just dumb. They are already paying taxes on gross sales, which is also a bad tax system. I’d much rather created incentives for people to buy! That will drive demand. It’s all about demand and alternative choices (i.e. mass transit).

I took a bus for many years from North Seattle to Redmond. I did it because there were frequent busses and it was convenient. I knew I could leave early and return early or late. I don’t see anything being done to create more incentive for people to take mass transit on the Olympic Peninsula. As an example, it would seem we need more busses serving PT to Sequim, where people may work, or go to medical appointments. There are only four busses,the first leaves at 8:30 AM. No working person will take that bus. They have to drive to near the airport to catch the earlier bus. Coming back the last bus leaves Sequim at 6:40, so if you have to stay late, you are stuck. The first bus leaves Sequim for PT at 6:52, so you can certainly catch that bus if you work in PT, but again, your last opportunity out is at 5:50. It appears we could easily do one more bus on each end of the day. One leaves early to Sequim from Haynes and one leaves later from Sequim and returns later from PT. That is what creating demand can accomplish. However you also need to advertise the service.

There are people though that will never take the bus, and for them, we need to drive demand for longer range electric vehicles. Maybe a service that would allow people to ‘rent’ an electric car at the Haynes P&R and drive it to Sequim, etc. and return it when done to Haynes. That seems to be a technology that is available. It certainly has worked in Seattle. ReachNow, ZipCar, Car2Go.

So here’s your local legislator’s votes


House Bill 1110, Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels

Passed the House on March 12 by a vote of 53-43

This bill would direct the state Department of Ecology to impose low-carbon fuel limits on gasoline and other transportation related fuels with a “clean fuels” program. Under the bill, carbon emissions of transportation fuels would have to be reduced to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. The mandatory program would begin Jan. 1, 2021. During floor debate, opponents argued that the bill would harm Washington residents by raising gas prices, which are already among the highest in the nation, and raising other costs, including food prices. A Republican amendment to allow a public vote at the next general election was defeated, and the bill passed along party lines by a 53-43 vote. Bi-partisan opposition to the bill included all Republicans and three Democrats. The bill was referred to the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee for further consideration

Rep. Chapman Yes

Rep. Tharinger Yes

This bill would impose California’s automobile emission rules on vehicle owners in Washington. Under the bill, car makers would be assigned credits based on the kind of fuel efficient cars they bring into the state. Those credits would then be used to set quotas for how many zero-emission vehicles manufacturers must ship into the state and for dealers to offer for sale, regardless of whether consumers want them or not. The stated goal of the bill is to have about 2.5 percent of all cars brought into Washington be the equivalent of zero-emission vehicles. The bill is now before the House Environment and Energy Committee for further consideration.
Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (Sequim) (D) ‘Voted Yes’
If enacted into law, this bill would ban stores from giving single-use plastic carryout bags to their customers. The ban includes paper and recycled plastic bags unless they meet stringent recycled content requirements. Under the bill, retailers would also be required to collect an 8-cent per bag tax for each recycled content large paper or plastic carryout bag provided. These provisions would supersede local bag ordinances, except for ordinances establishing a 10-cent per bag charge in effect as of January 1, 2019. Passage of SB 5323 by the Senate is the furthest statewide bag-ban proposals have advanced in the legislative process, since the idea of regulating and taxing shopping bags were first proposed in 2013. The bill was sent to the House Environment and Energy Committee for further consideration.
Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (Sequim) (D) ‘Voted Yes’
Under this bill, Washington’s electric utilities would have to eliminate all coal-fired energy sources by 2025 and meet 100 percent of its retail electric load using non-emitting and renewable resources by January 1, 2045. ?In support of the bill, Democrats said the state has an entrepreneurial economy that can move toward a clean energy economy. Solar and wind are the future, and this bill provides a common sense framework for bold actions toward a carbon-free electricity, they said. Republican senators offered nearly two dozen amendments to the bill, pointing out that Washington utilities already rely heavily on clean hydroelectric power and that the bill’s provisions would really only result in additional costs and rate increases to be borne by consumers. Most of the amendments failed, and the bill passed along strictly partisan lines, with one Republican and one Democrat member excused. The bill was sent to the House Committee on Environment and Energy, which has scheduled a public hearing for March 5th.
Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (Sequim) (D) ‘Voted Yes’

Plastic Oceans Plastic Bags State Kicks off Campaign for a Statewide Reusable Bag Bill – PRX and others

Washington State Lawmakers are poised to work with environmental groups to push for a ban on plastic non resuseable or recycleable plastic bags this year. Australia just announced that they have reduced plastic bag use (think those white bags used at grocery stores for casual shopping) by 80% for the year. Given how much plastics we are finding in *all* our waters, as well as in our fish, this is a small but critical thing *everyone* can do. Let’s just do it!

According to the Washington State Environmental Coalition:

Thin plastic bags are used for only a few minutes and discarded. Only 6% of these bags are ever recycled. Plastic bags blow into our waterways and the ocean, clog the stomachs of wildlife, and break down into smaller pieces that also get eaten. Plastic bags also clog recycling equipment – costing money because they have to be extracted – and are the major contaminant in our commercial compost. The Reusable Bag Act would eliminate thin carry-home plastic bags at all retail establishments and include a pass-through charge to motivate people to bring their own reusable bags and help cover the stores’ cost of more expensive bags.

and from PRX

The campaign for a reusable statewide bag bill kicked off this month. Environmental organizations and their legislative allies hope to build off existing 23 local ordinances already in place in Washington and introduce the bill in the 2019 legislative session. Proponents say there are more than 86 million metric tons of plastic in our oceans with the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash for every foot of coastline spilling into oceans annually. Martha Baskin reports. (PRX)

Plastic Oceans Plastic Bags State Kicks off Campaign for a Statewide Reusable Bag Bill

 

Fight against bill attacking Marbled Murrelet habitat. HB2300 – NO

Was sent to us yesterday:
I wanted to update you on a few things. First, the hearing for HB 2300 went long and the committee wasn’t able to hear testimony from the public on 2300 specifically. The hearing has been rescheduled for January 10 at 8:00 am.
 
We’re concerned that this bills might be passed, and WEC is doing everything we can to get the language and intention of the bills right. However, we need the public to speak up on these issues and let legislators know that, not only are these bills unfairly blaming marbled murrelets for the economic struggles of rural communities, but they are really unhelpful. Those of us at WEC care about rural communities and want to see them thrive, but logging more state lands is not the way to achieve that. We want DNR and Hilary Franz to take a leadership role in her Solutions Table process and not have the legislature meddle in the process. And more importantly, your government leaders need to know that their constituents care about wildlife, forests and ecological systems, and about this little chunky bird that is teetering on extinction.
 
If you live in the 19th or 24th district—your voice is especially important since these areas are rural and heavily timber-dependent. Please take the time to review some of our talking points and email the legislators on the committees considering the bills. See attached document for more information.
 
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE—PLEASE SEND YOUR EMAIL(S) BEFORE THURSDAY, JANUARY 11.
 
As always, let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
 
Thanks, 
Arianne
 
Arianne Jaco • Evergreen Forests Program Associate
 
 Washington Environmental Council  wecprotects.org
1402 Third Avenue | Suite 1400 | Seattle, WA 98101
 

Senate blocks legislation to undercut EPA clean water rules – AP

Another reason to support Democrats in your local and national elections. The Republicans continue to push to remove all environmental restrictions on our waters, as the Conservatives under Harper in Canada did in the last dozen years there. With the general population supporting environmental laws in the abstract, they continue to vote for people who don’t in the real world.

Democrats have blocked a Senate bill that would have forced the Obama administration to withdraw new federal rules to protect smaller streams, tributaries and wetlands from development and pollution. Supporters of the legislation — and opponents of the rules — did not get the 60 votes needed Tuesday to stop debate and consider the bill. The vote was 57-41, meaning Democrats have blocked the bill, for now. Most Democrats argue that the Obama administration rules will safeguard drinking water for 117 million Americans and say they should remain in place. The White House threatened a veto of the bill, saying the regulations are “essential to ensure clean water for future generations.” Mary Clare Jalonick reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.seattlepi.com/news/medical/article/Senate-legislation-would-block-EPA-clean-water-6607613.php

After 25 Years Of Pollution Prevention, Wash. State Working Toward Greener Chemicals – KPLU

A good quick overview of the next wave of pollution control. Focusing on engineering right from the start. The only way to really fix the problem, frankly.

It has been 25 years since the federal government passed the Pollution Prevention Act. The 1990 law is credited with reducing industrial waste by as much as 60 percent since it was enacted, by getting companies and governments to look upstream at what goes into the manufacturing process and stopping pollution at the source. But the effectiveness of that approach appears to have limits. With many toxic chemicals remaining, especially in consumer products, additional strategies are needed. And that’s where states come in. Washington is considered a pioneer. Ken Zarker, a section manager for pollution prevention with the State Department of Ecology,  says Washington has 8 or 9 laws on the books that are looked to by experts as model legislation for the reduction of toxic chemicals. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

http://kplu.org/post/after-25-years-pollution-prevention-wash-state-working-toward-greener-chemicals-0

Jefferson County Dems Adopt Marbled Murrelet Resolution

The Jefferson County Democrats adopted, on Tuesday, a resolution urging the Board of Natural Resources to adopt the strongest of the alternatives it is considering for protection of marbled murrelet habitat. As a federally listed threatened species, the murrelet is protected on federal lands, but not on private lands. The bird has been protected on state trust lands under an interim conservation strategy since 1997, years before most research on the murrelet’s ecological requirements took place.

“The state’s own scientists showed in 2008 that this threatened species is still declining because of our logging practices,” said Bruce Cowan, Chair of the Jefferson County Democrats. “If this species is going to survive, we can’t just keep cutting the trust lands where these birds nest.”

The meeting followed a presentation by Kevin Schmelzlen of the Murrelet Survival Project. Not until 1974 did scientists discover that, unlike any other seabird, the murrelet nests in forests, flying as far as fifty miles inland to nest on large branches high in old growth forests. Breeding pairs switch places daily, with one parent feeding on small fish while the other incubates their single egg.

The Washington State Board of Natural Resources is currently considering five alternatives for habitat protection on state trust lands. According to Shmelzlen, only Alternative E responds to the 2008 Science Report, developed by researchers for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The issue of murrelet habitat conservation has been contentious. In 2013, the courts halted a DNR approved harvest of 12,000 acres of timber in Southwest Washington. The Forest Resources Council, an advocate for the timber industry, was unsuccessful in its attempt to have the murrelet de-listed as a threatened species.

“We’ve waited long enough for action,” said Cowan. “Adopting a clear policy based on the 2008 Science Report will make it easier for DNR to do its work. With fewer lawsuits, the flow of timber revenues to state and local governments will be more predictable,” said Cowan. “The set aside is not huge, and it could save a species from extinction.”

Event: JeffCo Democrats discuss Marbled Murrelet Resolution – 10/27

Tuesday, October 27, JCD Membership Meeting, Program and Business Meeting on Murrelet Resolution, 
Port Townsend Community Center, 7 p.m.
Following a presentation by Kevin Schmelzlen (Murrelet Survival Project) and Peter Bahls (Northwest Watershed Institute

), the members will meet to discuss a resolution regarding Survival of the Marbled Murrelet. Here are the meeting agenda, minutes of last meeting, and the resolution.
The Marbled Murrelet is more than a cute little bird. This threatened species is in decline in Washington, partly because our state has taken a very long time to adopt public policies for managing our mature and ancient forests, a source of revenue for the state and local governments, in a way that provides for its long-term survival.
If passed, the resolution calls on the state to immediately adopt a long-term survival plan for the marbled murrelet, and it calls on the  Board of County Commissioners to speak up, as well. If passed, the resolution would also go forward to the Washington State Democrats for their consideration in January.

Republicans kill the Land and Water Conservation Fund

One of the most successful conservation programs in the Federal Government, The Land and Water Conservation Fund, has been allowed to sunset by the Republican controlled Congress. This program, which has been supported for 50 years by both parties, up to now. What is it? What good has it done? Why not let it die?

According to the Land and Water Fund Coalition,

The LWCF state assistance program provides matching grants to help states and local communities protect parks and recreation resources. LWCF funding has benefited nearly every county in America, supporting over 41,000 projects. From building hiking and biking trails, to improving community parks, playgrounds and ballfields, this 50:50 matching program is the primary federal investment tool to ensure that families have easy access to public, open spaces.

Rep. Rob Bishop, a Republican from Utah who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee is the person responsible for this change, even though his state benefits from it.

If we just focus on Washington State, this program has used some of the royalties from off shore oil and gas leasing, (not tax dollars from US citizens) to fund a wide variety of projects, from maintenance of Mount Rainier’s Carbon River bridges, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, The Moses Coulee, North Cascades National Park, Mt St. Helens, the list goes on and on and can be found here http://www.lwcfcoalition.org/washington.html.

Closer to home, here on the Olympic Peninsula, this program has funded, over the last 50 years, the Bogachiel River Boat Launch repair, maintenance at Clallam Bay, Clallam Bay Spit development, Freshwater Bay development, Snow Creek Renovation, Salt Creek County Parks renovation, and the Shane Park Playground in Port Angeles. Remember, Clallam County usually votes Republican, and this is what you are getting folks for your support of that party, which now controls the purse strings at the Federal Level.

In Jefferson County, Fort Worden State Park was funded with over $156, 000, The Hoh River Boat Launch, Kai Tai Park, Fort Worden Breakwater, and the Point Whitney (south in the county on Hood Canal) acquisition all were supported by funding from this program. You can find the entire list of funded projects here: http://www.nps.gov/lwcf/index.htm

What did Congress want to use the funds for? They want to give this money to the oil and gas industry for employee training. You read that right. They want to give the money to private enterprises to offset their employee training, which will make them more profitable by not having to spend that money themselves.

What can you do? There is a letter called the “Dear Colleagues” that is a method that Congress uses to show support for various funding programs.  Representative Derek Kilmer has yet to sign one, while most of our other representatives have. (see the list at the bottom of the page here (http://www.lwcfcoalition.org/washington.html). Call or email Derek and ask him to sign one now.  UPDATE: Representative Kilmer’s Olympic Peninsula Field Representative Judith Morris wrote back this morning to let me know that Representative Kilmer has in fact signed a letter sent by 129 Democratic members of the House ( and a similar letter was penned by many Republicans), to reauthorize the Fund.

In the letter sent last week, the members wrote: “LWCF is our nation’s premier program to help local communities protect the places they love. It has conserved iconic landscapes in every state and is responsible for more than 40,000 state and local outdoor recreation projects such as playgrounds, parks, refuges, and baseball fields.”

It goes on to state that Rep. Kilmer is a cosponsor of a bill that would permanently reauthorize the LWCF.

If you happen to live in a county that has a Republican representing you at the Federal level, give them a piece of your mind. If you belong to an organization that supports outdoor recreation in any form, get them to act nationally. And vote idiots like Rob Bishop out next year. He has wasted an enormous amount of time from Congress for an idea that no one but him and other oil and gas funded Congresspeople wants to see implemented.

Coordinated Assault on Endangered Species Act – Audubon

We’ve known that the Republican controlled Congress has been working to catch up with the Canadian government’s destruction of environmental regulations. Now Audubon puts it in context.

America’s strongest and most important law for protecting wildlife, the Endangered Species Act, is under a coordinated assault. Since January, over 30 bills and amendments have been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate that would dismantle the Act, including eight extreme bills in the Senate that received a hearing last week.

http://www.audubonaction.org/site/News2?abbr=aa_&page=NewsArticle&id=6293&pgwrap=n&autologin=true&utm_source=action&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2015-05-14-advisory#skip_interests

Move to Amend and our environment. It’s all about people, not corporations

Port Townsend – Tonight a crowd of about 100 listened to the very animated Move to Amend spokesman David Cobb discuss the movement to amend the Constitution to overturn the misguided Supreme Court decisions allowing corporations to be considered people and that money equals free speech.  What has this got to do with Olympic Peninsula environmental issues? Well, it’s pretty simple. This ruling has put corporations in the driver seat of all real decisions regarding the environment. Since the ruling,a corporation has just as much rights as a human being, to exploit our limited resources. But far more resources to bring to bear solely for the purpose of making profits for shareholders. And to spend as much money as needed to elect people to do their bidding. Think about that a minute. Corporations do not breath air, but they pollute it. They excrete waste but it isn’t often processed to the same standards as ours is. They exist only as a legal figment of our imagination, because we willed them into existence with laws. Sort of like Frankenstein?  And they are severely affecting our ability to continue to survive as a species. Sounds like aliens! They are not recognized in the Constitution, and in fact, were extremely limited by our founding fathers. As Cobb pointed out, the only tea destroyed at the original Tea Party, was corporate tea, of the East Indian Company (a good place to find some of this info is at http://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-boston-tea-party.

So the notion is that the people who are supposed to be in charge of not only this democracy, but this environment, need to take back the ability to be considered the only rulers of our government.

Now some of you might argue that it’s “too hard’ and that what the Supreme Court says, goes. But as Cobb pointed out tonight, it’s not that unusual. Once the Supreme Court thought that slavery was ok. And that women were legally chattel of men. Those antiquated notions of past Supreme Courts who were out of touch with the people governing the country were eventually overturned. We can do this, because it’s been done before. 

Mr. Cobb is headed around Washington on a speaking tour, including Seattle, Olympia, Bellingham, Spokane and other stops. What I would ask of any of you reading this is to check out the web site and read up on what they are trying to do. The City Council  of Port Townsend and the Washington State Democrats have already passed resolutions supporting an amendment, along with many other groups (see the list here https://movetoamend.org/resolutions-map).

Once you have read up on them, go hear him speak if you can. If you can’t the web site has lots of videos and info.

The Move to Amend has gone from 5 people in a living room in 2009 to support from hundreds of organzations and hundreds of thousands of people. This can succeed.

So if you are interested in legally protecting our rights as citizens to run this country, and decide the laws that protect our environment, see about supporting this movement. Or at least learn more. That’s something any of us, regardless of political affiliation, can get behind. It’s all part of the way forward to a sustainable planet. Not a lot of time left to put all the pieces in place to make that happen.

Funny how it didn’t appear that neither the Leader or the Peninsula Daily News was covering this.

Shellfish growers support effort to reduce ‘bad oyster’ illness – Skagit Valley Herald

I wonder what the downsides of this possible bill are. Would it hurt smaller growers who maybe can’t afford to wait out the closure? Any growers want to comment?

Vibrio can be bad news for those who savor raw oysters — and the businesses that sell them. Vibrio is a naturally occurring bacteria that thrives in warm temperatures and can cause intestinal distress to those eating contaminated shellfish. While cooking can kill Vibrio in oysters, many consumers prefer them raw…. historically, closures don’t happen until after people get sick. Now, the state is proposing a change to proactive regulations that would base closures on weather conditions favorable to Vibrio parahaemoliticus bacteria, rather than waiting until illnesses are confirmed. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

http://www.goskagit.com/all_access/shellfish-growers-support-effort-to-reduce-bad-oyster-illness/article_59a8fbcd-e929-5797-af3c-1f91bfcd94bb.html

Outdoor enthusiasts outraged over plan to restrict state waterways -KIRO

Another incredibly stupid idea for a law proposed in the State House. The legislature often wants to pass bills that are unfunded, or create unenforceable laws for local jurisdictions. (Correction to an earlier post .. I previously misrepresented Representative O’Keefe’s position, I meant to say Rep. Larry Haler seemed to be protecting wealthy landowners on river fronts. My apologies to Rep O’Keefe! He’s one of the good guys!)

Just think about the ramifications here on the Salish Sea. Good idea to call your Representatives and make sure they are opposed to this nonsense.

Thomas O’Keefe said when he heard about House Bill 1056 he immediately got upset. “The bill would make it basically illegal to access a public waterway if there’s no parking,” said O’Keefe — who is an avid kayaker, scuba diver and canoeist. Rep. Larry Haler (R-Richland) is the primary sponsor of the bill that says “the governmental entity which has jurisdiction of the land must provide adequate public parking for persons utilizing the land to access the water.” If a parking lot isn’t near an access point of a waterway, violators could face a misdemeanor. David Ham reports. (KIRO)

http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/outdoor-enthusiasts-outraged-over-plan-restrict-st/nj42h/

House looking to pass a bill banning some flame retardants- Crosscut

Representative Kevin Van De Wege continues to attempt to get the ban on flame retardants through the legislature for a third year. Kevin has been the champion on this bill, which aims to get these cancer causing chemicals out of our home furniture (like your family couch and beds), along with getting them out of our waters. They have been found to be in Puget Sound and the fish we eat from it.

A bill to ban two flame retardants from children’s products and upholstered furniture is taking its third trip through the Washington Legislature. Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, introduced the bipartisan bill, which went to a House Environment Committee public hearing Monday. John Stang reports. (Crosscut)

http://crosscut.com/2015/01/20/under-the-dome/123669/flame-retardants-children-furniture-legislature/

Leaked Internal Presentation Details the Oil Industry’s Campaign to Stop Clean Energy – Renewable Energy World

More bad business practices by the petroleum industry. WSPA operates up here in Washington, and is often lobbying our State legislators to stop progressive clean energy proposals. I’ve passed them in Olympia going to our representatives in the halls.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) — whose members include Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips, BP, and others — was caught red-handed late last month when a leaked internal presentation revealed a coordinated campaign to stomp out climate and clean energy progress in California, Oregon and Washington by propping up over 15 front groups that purport to represent the views of concerned citizens and the broader business community.

read the rest of the story at:

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/12/leaked-internal-presentation-details-the-oil-industrys-campaign-to-stop-clean-energy?cmpid=SolarNL-Saturday-December6-2014

Nitrates, fecal coliform from dairies linked to tainted shellfish, tap water -KOMO News

As the work continues to craft a Critical Areas Ordinance in our county, one of the key new issues is including Agriculture in it. (they were exempted in previous versions due to political pressure as mentioned in this report). This quick report highlights the concerns of those in the environmental community for crafting buffers from streams that work. Our county has been a leader in cooperative work between the farmers and those trying to restore streams such as Chimicum Creek. Hopefully we can leverage that work into something even more productive, without being heavy handed. But we also can’t just “give away the farm” so to speak. Here’s why:

Shellfish, swimming beaches, and the tap water for thousands of people in certain areas of Washington state are being contaminated by pollutants running off farms, and critics say dairy cows are the chief culprit, according to a KOMO 4 Problem Solvers investigation. Government regulators are failing to halt that pollution largely because of insufficient laws, pressure from the agriculture industry and too little enforcement, the Problem Solvers review found. Voluntary compliance and good intentions from many dairy farmers have not been enough to prevent dangerous contaminates generated by manure from getting into waters of Washington state. Only one percent of Washington’s roughly 700 dairy farms – some with thousands of cows at one facility – have a permit to pollute, say state agencies. Jeff Burnside reports. (KOMO)

http://www.komonews.com/news/problemsolvers/Nitrates-fecal-coliform-from-dairies-linked-to-tainted-shellfish-tap-water-283557361.html

Environmental Tech Startup Demonstrates New Mapping of Elwha

These guys are doing some very interesting new technology. Check them out.

The Elwha Project

Flying FishViews Announcement, November 12, 2014

This morning Flying FishViews Inc. (F2V) released an innovative approach for interacting with rivers,coasts and shores, demonstrated by the first-ever panoramic tour of Washington State’s Elwha River.

F2V’s digital maps (called FishViews) offer a unique perspective for navigating rivers online. Using street view-style panoramic imagery, collected from the surface of the water and fused with other location-specific information like water quality data, F2V is delivering a comprehensive visual and data-driven experience that enables science, recreation and conservation. Available on the website F2V.me, the Elwha River FishView tour shows F2V’s commitment to our waterways by demonstrating online access to digital maps of aquatic environments. (Go directly to the Elwha River tour at: http://F2V.me/elwha-river.html)

F2V is a Seattle-based tech startup that spent the last 18 months developing technology to capture FishViews, a fresh way to tell the story of our rivers, coasts and shores. This new approach enables users to view and navigate within panoramic, river-level imagery. FishViews are captured thru HD photography on, over and under the water, and fused with concurrent measurements of the physical properties of the waterway – all synchronized by time and location. FishViews provide users with a rich, immersive browsing experience that enables greater understanding of a specific location or area.

“Like many new, revolutionary data products, once it is available people will recognize the remaining data gaps even more – driving demand for more extensive coverage with this product.” John Mickett, PhD Senior Oceanographer, University of Washington Applied Physics Lab.

Dam removal began on the Elwha River in mid-September 2011. Today, the Elwha Dam is gone, all of Glines Canyon Dam has been removed, and the Lake Mills and Lake Aldwell reservoirs have drained.

The Elwha River now flows freely from its headwaters in the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca for the first time in 100 years. The dam removal process was completed in late August of this year and F2V was there to capture the state of the river two days after the last dam came down. Thru Elwha River FishViews, users can virtually float and snorkel the river, and with F2V-collected data and call outs to important physical and biological features on the river, users can check out conditions before visiting the river – and even zoom in on important features.

Prior to being dammed in the early 20th century, the Elwha River was home to some of the largest Chinook salmon in the northern hemisphere. During F2V’s Elwha data collection, Chinook salmon were imaged spawning in the Elwha above the dams for the first time in over 100 years.

F2V aims to assist in the monitoring and assessment of the Elwha recovery to benefit scientific research, natural resource management, conservation, recreation and education. Looking to the future, F2V intends to work with Elwha River stakeholders to catalogue the recovery process and extend the project further upriver, eventually capturing the entire 45 miles from source to sea.

More broadly, the Elwha project represents the leading edge of a Puget Sound Region initiative to collect and present FishViews for 300 miles of Puget Sound Region rivers, coasts and shores – and prove out commercial viability for providing web-access to aquatic environments. Stay tuned for more FishViews of rivers and waterways throughout Washington State and the US, including tours of Texas’ Spring Lake,

San Marcos River and Lady Bird Lake.

For Inquiries, please contact:

Brian Footen 206.235.9286 or Scott Gallagher 210.516.5910

Sportsmen for Wild Olympics Announce New Endorsements & Video

sportsmen-for-wild-olympicsHundreds of Local Sportsmen Endorse Wild Olympics, Video Highlights Threats, Rivers & Local Support

(Sportsmen for Wild Olympics Video “Salmon Streams for Our Future” )

 

January 31st, 2014 – Today the group of Olympic Peninsula hunters, anglers, and guides of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics delivered signatures from more than 300 local sportsmen and women on a petition to Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer in support of their new legislation to permanently protect headwaters and salmon streams on Olympic National Forest and enhance access.  The signers urge the lawmakers to keep the ancient forests and free-flowing rivers wild, because “Peninsula salmon, trout, and steelhead rely on cold, clean water from upper reaches of rivers & streams on Olympic National Forest. These headwaters & streams are at risk as private industry and small hydro developers try to roll back temporary safeguards on our public lands.”

This new support comes on the heels of new endorsements by over two dozen major hunting and fishing organizations and local guides, including nineteen leading sportsmen groups and Peninsula guides who recently sent a joint letter to Sen. Murray and Rep. Kilmer urging action to safeguard this area.  Those signing the letter include Piscatorial Pursuits (Forks), Waters West Guide Service (Montesano), Angler’s Obsession (Forks), Little Stone Fly Fisher (Port Townsend), Johnson Guide Service (Sequim), Anadromy Fly Fishing (Forks),Game On! Guide Service (Shelton), Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics (Forks), Able Guide Service (Seiku), Gray Wolf Fly Fishing Club (Sequim), Peninsula Sportsman (Port Townsend), Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, the Wild Steelhead Coalition, the Northwest Guides & Anglers Association, the Washington Wildlife Federation, Izaak Walton League, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Association of Northwest Steelheaders and others.

Both the petition and the letter state that “Only full, Congressionally-designated Wilderness and Wild & Scenic River safeguards will permanently protect backcountry elk habitat and sensitive salmon and steelhead spawning grounds against future development.” The group further notes that the final compromise legislation removed all roads from the proposed wilderness boundaries, ensuring Wild Olympics will not close roads or affect any road or trailhead access.

 

Sportsmen for Wild Olympics also released a new video:”Salmon Streams for Our Future” to spotlight the headwaters, rivers and salmon that would be protected under the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, and the threats they face without permanent protection. It highlights the long list of support for Wild Olympics from 27 leading hunting & fishing organizations and local guides, and features stunning footage of spawning salmon shot by acclaimed local filmmaker John Gussman. An interview with Sequim fishing guide & Sportsmen for Wild Olympics co-founder Norrie Johnson explains how the legislation is vital to protecting the headwaters, rivers & streams on Olympic National Forest that local anglers depend on for salmon & steelhead fishing. The video closes with a call for hunters & anglers to visit the Sportsmen for Wild Olympics website and sign their online petition in support of the Wild Olympics legislation.

Dave Bailey, Past President of the Grey Wolf Fly Fishing Club in Sequim, WA and a co-founder of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics says the group is releasing the video to show people that the threats to local salmon streams are real and that Wild Olympics is broadly supported in the local sportsmen community.

“People think that because these areas appear as they’ve always been, that they are safe.  That is the furthest thing from the truth,” said Bailey. “There is a determined effort in Congress to roll back safeguards on our public lands and open these sensitive spawning grounds to small hydro development, industrial clear-cutting and more road building once more.  That’s bad for fish, game, and sportsmen” said Bailey.

The Sportsmen are concerned that without immediate action on this issue, extreme logging legislation before Congress and the renewed push for small-hydro project development in Washington State are putting the remote backcountry headwaters and salmon streams on Olympic National Forest at risk.  (Click here to read the Sportsmen for Wild Olympics threats report, “Our Rivers & Headwaters at Risk”)

Aaron O’Leary, a member of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics and owner and head guide of Angler’s Obsession (Forks, WA),  put it plainly; “Supporting Wild Olympics will help preserve the salmon and steelhead fishing on the Olympic Peninsula for future generations.”  (Click here to see profiles of all the members ofSportsmen For Wild Olympics “About Us” )

Many area hunters and anglers have long been supportive of legislation introduced earlier by Senator Murray and former Representative Dicks, and participated in the four year public process initiated by local stakeholders and the lawmakers to craft a balanced protection plan for upper watersheds on Olympic Forest.

The Sportsmen for Wild Olympics Leaders have also updated their website to help dispel some of the myths about Wild Olympics & access, highlighting the fact that it will not close one single mile of the 2,250 miles of roads on Olympic National Forest and that Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers protect and enhance hunting & fishing access (Click Here to Read Wild Olympics Protects & Enhances Access Without Closing Roads).   “Wild Olympics will not only protect water quality and fish, but enhance public access,” said Roy Morris, Jr., a co-founder of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics and Owner/Head Guide for Able Guide Service out of Seiku, on the northwest corner of the Olympic Peninsula. Dave Bailey added that “Wild and Scenic Rivers are managed to protect and enhance the values that make them eligible for designation that include recreational pursuits such as sportfishing.”

“We must not lose this critical opportunity to conserve and protect the headwaters and watershed forests that are vital to our wild fish, birds and wildlife,” said Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing GuideBob Triggs of Port Townsend — one of the co-founders of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics. “It is far simpler and less expensive to conserve the wilderness habitat that we have, rather than to attempt to restore these places later. The value of some wild places cannot be measured in money.”

“Only Congressionally-designated wilderness and Wild & Scenic River safeguards will permanently protect core backcountry elk habitat and critical salmon and steelhead spawning grounds against future development,” said Dave Bailey.  “The Wild Olympics legislation would give our fish, wildlife and salmon streams the gold standard of protection they deserve.”

·             Sportsmen for Wild Olympics Video “Salmon Streams for Our Future”

 

·             Sportsmen For Wild Olympics Threats Report “Our Rivers & Headwaters at Risk”

 

·             Sportsmen for Wild Olympics About Us

 

·             Sportsmen for Wild Olympics Website:www.SportsmenForWildOlympics.org

Representative Van De Wege signs onto bill to ban & label GMO Salmon

Republican State Representative Condotta (R) co-sponsored  by Representative Van de Wege, have put forward bill HB 2143,  to ban genetically modified salmon in the State. This would ban net pen operations in state waters from farming any genetically modified salmon. It does not ban raising them in upland closed container sites. Additionally it calls for identification of farmed GMO fish vs. commercially caught salmon. Background on this is that Washington was the first state in the country, in 1993,  to make it a law to label salmon as wild or farmed. It was heavily opposed by the same industry coalition back then. But it passed. We led the way in salmon labeling, and the arguments are again being made that labeling and banning of these fish should be a Federal issue, not a State issue. They also say it will cause consumer confusion. I  personally don’t know many consumers who are confused as to wild vs. farmed salmon labels. In fact, it seems to have spurred purchase of wild salmon, as consumers know that they are getting what they want, as opposed to not knowing if it is or isn’t. That confusion is more likely to lead to other choices of protein.

The reasons for this bill that have been put forward is to codify the rules on avoiding cross contamination on GMO salmon and to add a simple label on GMO fish when they are sold in Washington State stores.

At the January 17th Public Hearing, testimony was hot and heavy. Industry spokespeople were out in force to attempt to stop the bill. Also citizen activists testified in favor of it. Industry is attempting to muddy the waters by claiming that this will ban research and development of genetic fish, some of which could be hampering work on human disease development. To be clear, the bill does not ban that research. It bans farming GMO salmon in State Waters. That is defined as navigable waters in the state. The Sound, Strait, Outer Coasts and freshwater rivers and streams are usually what is meant by that term. 

Some of the testimony (pardon me if the names are spelled wrong, they were not always clearly identifiable):

A panel opposed to the bill showed up to testify:

Alan Cook of Icicle Seafoods. They opposed  the bill claiming that GMO salmon are already banned in State waters.

John Dentler Director of Troutlodge. They are the oldest company in aquaculture in America. They  grow Sable Fish (Black Cod) and Shellfish. He claimed they have no plans on rearing GMO salmon and trout.  They want to  carve out an exemption  specifically for triploid (sterile) fish in the bill. Labeling aspect is troubling to them. If we specifically label to this State, they are faced with labeling requirements. National and State environmental policy acts handle these issues, he said.

John Bialka Pacific Aquaculture on the Columbia. They produce triploid trout for restaurant business. Not interested in raising GMO salmon. Opposed the bill.

Also in opposition to the bill.

  • Dan Swecker ex-salmon farmer and ED Washington Salmon Growers Assoc.
  • JIm Jesernig ofWashington Association of Wheat Growers –
  • Tom Davis Farm Bureau
  • Heather Hansen – Friends of Farms and Forest.  “True intent is to stigmatize genetically modified food”
  • NW Grocery Association
  • James Curry NW Food Processors Assoc. – Opposed to the bill.
  • Dan Coin – Biotechnology Industry Association – Opposed.

Showing up in favor of the bill

  • The Yakima Nation
  • Doug Milholland of Port Townsend. He brought up Salmon Confidential and the work going on in British Columbia against farmed and GMO salmon.
  • Senator Marilyn Chase 32nd district (D)  testified in favor of the bill.
  • Ann Mossmiss – Ex-Alaska Fisherman. Food and Society Policy Fellow Institute of Agriculture and Trade Culture. Very concerned about the new genetically modfied  National Academy of Scientists are very skeptical and concerned on this. She was a very convincing speaker with a great deal of background on the subject.

The bill will encounter stiff opposition in the House and Senate,if it even passes out of committee. I highly recommend that any of you wanting to weigh in on this bill do so now. Send emails to Representative Kevin Van De Wege’s office.

Watch the whole testimony here:

http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwplayer&eventID=2014010063

The Bill itself:

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2013-14/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/2143.pdf

Bill Analysis:
http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwplayer&eventID=2014010063

Peninsula lawmakers back new legislation banning toxic chemicals

kevinvdwegemtg

Representative Kevin Van de Wege (along with Rep. Steve Tharinger  and Senator James Hargrove who was not in the photo) talks to PT folks, helping roll out the latest “Toxic Free Kids and Families Act”. The latest version of the bill (ESHB 1294) will help stop the ‘toxic treadmill’ of chemicals, banning toxic flame-retardants like Tris in children’s products and furniture. Rep Van de Wege was a skeptical when this was first introduced in 2007, but as a firefighter asked to be convinced, and came around to support this whole heartedly. Thanks to Rep. Van de Wege an earlier version passed, but now needs to be strengthened. This bill was sponsored by Washington Toxics Coalition, over 20 NGO’s who are working to rid the Sound and our bodies of these toxins. 

%d bloggers like this: