Washington, D.C. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) today grilled Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan for his refusal to address toxic dumping in Puget Sound. Following their exchange in today’s Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change hearing, Rodgers released the following statement:
“The federal government has already spent millions of dollars to clean up Puget Sound, yet pollution and toxic conditions in the Sound continue to kill fish. Why? Because Governor Inslee and the Biden administration continue to look the other way while municipalities in King County illegally dump millions of gallons of raw sewage into the Sound. Now, Democrats in power want to throw another $89 million at the problem without actually enforcing the water quality standards on the books. This approach will ensure Puget Sound salmon, and the orcas who rely on them for food, continue on a path to extinction. It’s time for this administration and all of us to get serious about saving the Sound.”
CMR: “When you talk about laws being clearly violated, I wanted to draw your attention again to Puget Sound in Washington State. This is critical. This is a critical issue to orcas, to endangered salmon, taxpayer outlays, environmental justice.
“You’ve said that you’re committed to cleaning up Puget Sound, but cleanup will continue to be a constant problem if King County and the state continue to look the other way when there’s million of gallons of raw sewage being dumped into Puget Sound every year, endangering salmon runs and polluting the waters.
“If you look at Washington State’s latest ‘State of Salmon’ report, Snake River Fall Chinook are approaching their goal and steelhead are making progress, but the Puget Sound Chinook and Steelhead, those stocks that are most important to the Orca, are in crisis.
“EPA’s failure to act is eroding three federal efforts: protecting orcas from extinction, safeguarding the salmon that are essential to orca diets, and promoting salmon populations.
“Will you use your “backstop” authority to end this excessive sewage dumping by major municipalities?”
Regan: “What we’ve done is … what I believe to be a very strong job of enforcing the consent order that’s on the books … [and] we’re going to continue to work with the state to enforce that consent order.
“One of the good things that I can report is thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure law, we’ve got about 89 more million dollars to put towards projects like the Puget Sound, so that we can get the cleanup on the trajectory it needs to be. […] We can’t ignore that there has been progress but not enough progress.”
CMR: “The state continues to issue the permits. Millions of gallons of raw sewage every year [are] being dumped into Puget Sound, endangering salmon populations that are going extinct. I ask for you to give it more attention.”
CLICK HERE to watch the full exchange.