Serving Franklin County, WA

GAO: Bad water is the problem

Aren’t you sick and tired of hearing Gov. Jay Inslee and his ilk blaming Columbia and Snake River dams for the decline in Puget Sound salmon and orca populations?

Despite voluminous information to the contrary, Inslee, Sen. Patty Murray and other extremist environmental politicians continue to push a narrative on salmon decline that is patently false. There should be penalties for being so disingenuous.

While there isn’t a penalty for false statements made to appease political donors and powerbrokers, there is the federal Government Accountability Office.

Last week, the agency released a report documenting the real reasons for Puget Sound salmon population decline – and thereby orca decline. According to the GAO, water quality is to blame.

Elevated water temperatures and toxic chemicals in Puget Sound are the main reasons Puget Sound salmon are struggling. The toxic chemicals are a direct result of runoff from roads and other property in communities in King, Pierce, Snohomish and other Puget Sound counties.

In short, it’s not our dams. It’s Western Washington’s chemical-laden stormwater runoff flowing directly into Puget Sound.

The failures date back to about 2012 – about the time Inslee became the top Democrat in the state. For the record, he took his first term in the gubernatorial office in January 2013.

Since then, from his bully pulpit in Olympia, the governor has pushed a false narrative blaming our dams for the Puget Sound salmon decline, even though the agencies under his direction had knowledge of the poisons flowing into the Sound.

In the report released last week, the GAO said the federal Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Ecology had routinely failed to meet deadlines on water quality assessments, and therefore failed to take the necessary steps to stop the poisonous runoff from affecting salmon and orca populations.

The agency also said Puget Sound’s issues extend to habitat degradation, overfishing, hydropower development there and predation.

Rather than address problems with Puget Sound issues over the last decade, the governor and other politicians like him have blamed Columbia and Snake River dams.

As you know, our dams are a long way from Puget Sound. Heck the Columbia River watershed doesn’t even empty into the sound or anywhere near it.

The GAO just blew the top of subterfuge pushed by the governor and the executive branch agencies under his direction.

If Westside politicians weren’t so quick to point their collective fingers at us here in Eastern Washington, maybe they could’ve had a decade’s head start on rectifying Puget Sound issues truly at the center of salmon and orca declines. If only they would’ve looked in the mirror before looking to Eastern Washington.

Let’s be honest about the issue – Puget Sound salmon and orca declination is a result of bad water.

Now that the GAO has settled that, maybe the governor and his ilk will pursue the real problems and clean up Puget Sound.

— Roger Harnack is the publisher of Free Press Publishing. Email him at [email protected].

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

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Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


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