Statement from Lorraine Loomis:
Draft water quality standards released today by Gov. Inslee are a step forward but not as protective as those already put forth by EPA.
The treaty Indian tribes in western Washington are encouraging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stay strong in their oversight in the development of water quality standards that protect everyone who lives in Washington.
The federal agency stepped in last year after the state failed to update water quality standards as required by the Clean Water Act. The state admits that the current 20-year-old standards don’t adequately protect our health. Tribes are especially concerned because tribal members routinely consume far more fish and shellfish than most residents.
EPA’s proposal would more strictly regulate some of the most toxic chemicals such as PCBs, arsenic and mercury. These three chemicals are responsible for many fish consumption health advisories in the state.
EPA’s proposal also uses the best available science and follows the most recently updated federal guidance on those toxins.
Inslee’s proposal is based on outdated science, especially in accounting for all sources of toxins and how toxics move through the food chain.
If the state adopted EPA’s proposal we would have a rule that protects everyone. Instead, Inslee is proposing a rule that is less protective and allows more pollution.
Given the state’s track record, we are not confident that Inslee will successfully complete this rulemaking effort. That is why it is still important for EPA to complete their rulemaking as soon as possible.