Gov. Jay Inslee believes he eats about 12 pounds of fish per month. At least that’s what he said while outlining his new proposal for clean water standards during his press conference today in Olympia. That’s a bowling ball of fish. Each month.
At issue are the water quality standards, which are directly tied to how much fish is consumed by residents per month. The level of fish consumed dictates how polluting industries are regulated. Since 1992 that level, set by the federal government, has been 6.5 grams per month, or one serving size, too low for critics who claim that Washingtonians are more voracious piscivors than that. Inslee has proposed that amount be raised to 175 grams per month, which is equal to a 6.5 gram serving each day.
“It is clear to me that Washington state needs to reach beyond the confines of our historical regulatory approaches and recognize how water pollution has changed in the 40 years since the Clean Water Act became law,” said Inslee.
The proposal, which would raise the fish consumption rate to the same amount that Oregon did in 2011, has pitted local tribal groups and environmental organizations against businesses such as Boeing.
The environmental organizations and tribal groups have been pushing for tougher standards for a while. Tribal groups have been known to eat a higher amount of fish than most residents and are exposed to more of the chemicals within them. They believe that the current level of one serving per month does not accurately represent them or most Washingtonians, and consequently puts their health at risk.
Businesses opposed to the measure believe that the proposal would drive businesses away due to the higher costs that would come with the new technology required to reach acceptable water standards.
Inslee has tried to appease both sides by proposing the increase in the estimated level of fish consumtion, along with an increase in the cancer risk rate by 10 times the current amount for certain chemicals.
Inslee has also said he would like Legislature to pass a toxic reduction bill in 2015. He believes that the proposed update to the Clean Water Act “still wouldn’t do anything to protect our children from exposure to too many toxics that cause neurological and reproductive damage.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given the state until the end of 2014 to finalize new clean water standards before it will take over the process.
The full press release can be found here.