Our region must stand for environmental protections

Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have launched unprecedented attacks on the institutions and laws that are holding the line against environmental catastrophe.

In Washington, we are privileged to have a heritage of majestic mountains, streams and forests. We are home to Puget Sound, the Columbia and Snake rivers and other natural treasures. Many choose to locate here to enjoy our natural wealth.

However, the threats to these treasures, both natural and political, have never been greater. On the natural side, the stress of climate change is evident in reduced snow pack, increased winter rainfall and flooding, and increased stream temperatures. Combined with habitat loss and stormwater from urban growth, our salmon stocks and iconic orcas are at risk of extinction.

At the political level, President Donald Trump, joined by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, has launched unprecedented attacks on the institutions and laws that are holding the line against environmental catastrophe. The administration is systematically rolling back environmental protections through a series of presidential executive orders and proposed administrative agency actions. Trump has loudly proclaimed he wants a return to 1960s regulatory levels.

Those old enough to remember know that we shouldn’t romanticize the environmental policy of an era that saw rivers like the Cuyahoga catching fire, thousands dying of severe air pollution and broad contamination of our lands. In response to these environmental disasters, the country stood up against unchecked environmental degradation and Congress passed landmark legislation such as the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, and Superfund. Our own Washington U.S. Sen. Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson was instrumental in passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires a “hard look” at the impacts of major infrastructure projects. A return to the…

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