Washington state should prepare to challenge President Trump over environmental issues, similar to the way it’s challenging his immigration orders.
Washington state has proven to be a formidable opponent to President Trump’s misguided and harsh immigration orders.
The state should next prepare to challenge the Trump administration over environmental issues.
Of particular concern are potential cuts to Puget Sound restoration work and rule changes that could affect threatened salmon and waters statewide.
Trump should recognize what a bad deal his administration could be making.
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The federal government has spent billions restoring waterways and fish populations. This environmental infrastructure — protecting water and habitat — supports thousands of jobs.
Why risk public investments that provide such a tremendous return?
Shredding rules and gutting restoration budgets is just begging for a fight, and squanders the new president’s opportunity to make lasting policy changes.
Bureaucracy and regulations need a fresh look periodically, just as gardens must be tended so they don’t become overgrown. This is accomplished partly by cycling through leaders with different perspectives.
Yet in his rush to cast himself as a disrupter and appease extremist supporters, Trump isn’t pruning, weeding and replanting. So far his environmental proposals look like bulldozers and napalm.
Washington and other states will fight back if these draconian proposals become reality and threaten natural resources they’ve worked hard to protect and restore.
As with immigration, this will hit a wall of bipartisan resistance.
Actually, it’s more like a thicket — woven of court rulings, treaties and agreements, negotiated over decades and rivaling Obamacare in complexity. It will take more than executive orders and bullying tweets to slice through.
That’s just one funding source, but it doesn’t bode well. Salmon habitat work around Puget Sound and the West receives more than $100 million a year from the feds, which may be at risk.
Then there’s funding for NOAA’s science and climate research. U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell notes this affects Washington’s maritime, fishing and shellfish industries, which depend on NOAA data.
Trump also wants to cut President Obama’s 2015 water-protection rules, which supplemented the Clean Water Act.
Washington state officials and tribes will weigh in as these changes proceed. They’re holding a summit this week, at which a primary topic will be responding to Trump.
Northwest tribes have shown a willingness to aggressively defend their treaty rights, including access to endangered salmon runs that could suffer if clean-water rules and restoration budgets are gutted.
The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission is discussing how to respond with sister organizations in other regions.
“Everybody’s gathering the troops,” said Justin Parker, executive director, “and will do our best to make some headway.”
That’s a good game plan for all Washingtonians concerned about the health of our salmon, Puget Sound and other natural resources.