We respectfully request raw sewage in Puget Sound

Al Franken was on Fresh Air yesterday, and he said one thing that ratcheted up my dismay level one more notch.

GROSS: Things are so divided now in America and in government, in the Senate, in the House, do you feel like it’s possible now for you to have friendly relations with people in the government who are, you know, like, 180 degrees away from you on politics, on science, on climate change?

FRANKEN: Oh, man. There is stuff going on in the EPA right now on science where they’re just getting rid of the scientific boards that oversee the science, and it’s really awful. It’s really – this administration does not believe in science, it seems. And they’re getting, you know, people from industry. And they think there’s too much regulation. And they have – we have someone who is – Meredith’s (ph) a professor from the University of Minnesota, who I just talked to yesterday, who sort of oversees all these scientific boards.

And she is really alarmed. This is very, very bad. It’s hard for me to have very good relations with people who are doing that.

It drives me nuts.

Here’s a little experiment for you: Google “Trump administration epa” and see what comes up.

Under Top Stories right now I get

EPA halts Obama-era rule on methane pollution

President’s EPA counsel calls meeting over boat discharge in Puget Sound

Rule to limit mercury and arsenic in waterways is delayed by EPA

Those are all dated today.

The middle one could be benign, but of course it isn’t. This president’s counsel calls a meeting to talk about not preventing boat discharge in Puget Sound. More raw sewage for the Sound! Shut up and stop complaining!

The Washington Department of Ecology is near the end of an effort to ban boats from discharging raw and partially treated sewage into Puget Sound. Except, the waters may soon muddy.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s senior counsel called a meeting with Ecology Director Maia Bellon Wednesday morning.

“I typically work with the Seattle office of the Environmental PA to talk about these issues. I’m a ‘glass is half full person.’ I’m going to look at it as an opportunity to talk about Washingtonians want the Puget Sound to be treated with the utmost of respect,” Bellon said.

The Regional EPA director has already approved the designation of a “No Discharge Zone.” The process is still awaiting a public comment period, and boats will get five years to comply. Still, Bellon was confident the NDZ would become a reality.

Not so fast! What about all those cruise ships that might want to save money by dumping all that sewage? Won’t somebody think of the shareholders?

President Donald Trump’s EPA counsel is reacting to a petition from Washington maritime stakeholders. They’re critical of the NDZ designation, arguing it will be too costly for maritime business and doesn’t do much to stop pollution. It will require some boats spend $175,000 in upgrades for storage tanks.

The petition reads: “We respectfully request that EPA rescind the February 21 determination to allow for a thorough review of Ecology’s petition by you and your staff. The final determination was hastily promulgated and disregarded legitimate stakeholder concerns in favor of an expedited review designed primarily to avoid scrutiny by the Trump Administration. We respectfully request that you publish in the Federal Register a notice rescinding EPA’s February 21 determination and provide direct notice to the Washington Department of Ecology to cease any NDZ rulemaking pending EPA’s reconsideration. Thank you for your attention to this matter.”

Will they comply? Of course they will. The “stakeholders” always come first.

“I think it’s unprecedented. I’ve not heard of any No Discharge Zone petitions across the United States in 26 states we’ve looked at this,” Bellon said.

Bellon says her office has taken extra time to work with stakeholders, and believes if the Trump administration reverses the regional EPA ruling, it would be illegal.

“We have a lot of swimming beaches where our families and our kids swim and recreate,” she said. “We fish out of the Puget Sound. We collect shellfish out of the Puget Sound. So, having those human pathogens or bacteria are problematic, and we should be eliminating those sources of pollution.”

Any bets?

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