Keep Our Seafood Clean: Russ Hepfer explains why we need a strong rule

Over at Keep Seafood Clean, you should read an essay by Lower Elwha vice-chair Russ Hepfer about why a strong water quality rule would protect all Washingtonians:

State government has wrestled for decades with updating the standards that are supposed to protect us from toxics in our water that end up in the food we eat. The more fish and shellfish we eat, the cleaner the waters must be.

But Washington continues to use the same outdated and inadequate water quality standards developed about 40 years ago. Current water quality standards really don’t adequately protect any of us, the state admits.

That’s because business and industry, led by companies like Boeing, have successfully stalled any progress in updating the standards, claiming it would increase their cost of doing business.

A rule proposed recently by Gov. Jay Inslee would have properly increased our fish consumption rate from an embarrassing nationwide low of 6.5 grams per day (about one bite) to 175 grams per day, the same as Oregon’s. But that improvement would have been canceled out by a tenfold decrease in protection under the current cancer risk rate, from one in one million to one in 100,000.

Further complicating the issue, Inslee tied the rule to a $12 million statewide toxics reduction proposal requiring legislative approval. Legislators promptly stripped the most protective parts of a funding bill (HB 4217) for the program, leaving us all pretty much where we started: Unprotected and still waiting.

That’s too bad, because a toxics reduction program is a good idea. But to make it truly meaningful, it must be anchored by a strong rule of law.

Read the entire piece here.