With a hat tip to Ken Lederman at Foster Pepper for getting the release in my inbox before my  twitter feed blew up on the subject:

This afternoon, Governor Inslee announced a deal with Boeing that involves a special legislative session starting Thursday to implement a number of items in exchange for Boeing producing the 777x in Washington State. The package negotiated by the Governor’s office includes a number of commitments on tax incentives, education policy, transportation infrastructure, and streamlining permitting requirements. Relevant to this blog, it also includes a commitment by the Governor’s office on the fish consumption issue–an issue big enough to Boeing that they held up the last legislative session seeking funding for studies related to fish consumption rates. The language of the press release is promising:

  •  Develop balanced, practical solutions that achieve water quality goals, limit permittee costs and footprint requirements, minimize the risk of third-party litigation and ensure the state’s ability to retain and attract business.
  •  Final rules will be based on sound science, produce environmental and human health benefits, provide feasible compliance pathways and ensure a competitive economic climate.

The devil is still in the details here, but reading between the lines, I’m hopeful the “sound science” commitment ends up being something along the lines of what Boeing was working towards during the budget negotiations last June–i.e., a state-wide survey on fish consumption rates, or the development of a framework that considers those rates on a waterbody-by-waterbody basis. That is an incredibly daunting task to be sure, but one that Ecology may need to tackle to end up with “balanced” water quality criteria and “practical solutions.” I’d also be interested in state funding of research on bioaccumulation of toxics in surface waters for a few contaminants that have the potential to drive regulatory gridlock. My guess is that some of the assumptions underlying the current water quality criteria for toxics are overly conservative, an issue that becomes more pronounced as you raise fish consumption rates. That type of research would be a great compliment to more data on fish consumers–and plays into Washington’s strength in terms of its research institutions.

Earlier today I mentioned that I vowed a while back to blog on topics other than coal exports. Then this happens–fish consumption is another issue that has dominated the blog the last few years. I suppose I should consider changing the name of this blog to “Fish and Coal in the Pacific Northwest.” Stay tuned.