Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Washingtonian Priorities in the face of a tight budget: Did we save our environment?

The higher value ascribed to the clean water bill under current budget debates on the house and senate floors, has less to do with managing storm water runoff pollution in the Puget Sound, but our priorities as Washingtonians under tight budget conditions and a contracting economy. We have often worked through challenging budget priorities in the past. The difference this time is the fact that we are facing a Nine billion dollars shortfall in our state budget. This reality to a great extent beclouds so many minds in the house and senate that some of our legislatures seem confused on what our priorities should be and where we needed to go. This essentially was borne out by the narrow results of the vote on the floor of the house: 51 Yeas; 48 Nays.
For those legislatures who voted in favor of HB 1614, there was certainly no confusion as to what our priorities as Washingtonians should be. Those who said nay, we thank them as is the case on any issue, there is often a second side to all stories! Supporters of House bill 1614, candidly and effectively said to our friends on the other side of the aisle that, despite the probable challenge of a tight budget, there are some issues that must never be compromised. The long-term slow motion risk to human health of the extensive pollution of the Duwamish River and Puget Sound is one of such priorities. Scientists have documented the alarming rate of environmental pollution and its compelling impact on fishery and wildlife in the Puget Sound. The potential consequence of storm water runoff pollution to human reproduction system, including issues of breast cancer, low sperm count in males and mutation to human anatomy due to exposure to chemical compounds, is one that must not be ignored. We can either stand up to do something now, when the problem is not completely out of control, or wait until our hospital starts to find mutations in the reproductive systems of Washington State residents before we start to wake up to our responsibility: to protect human life and preserve our environment for generations to come.
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