Share “Unions join fight over Washington fish...”

Unions join fight over Washington fish consumption

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 16, 2014 at 7:09 pm •  Published: June 16, 2014
Advertisement

SEATTLE (AP) — Unions representing Boeing machinists and mill workers are siding with businesses in a bitter fight over how much fish people eat, and thus how clean Washington state waters should be.

The Machinists union and others are worried a new water quality standard being developed by the state would hurt jobs and economic development — concerns that Boeing Co. and other industry groups have also raised.

The unlikely allies have found common ground, uniting over the topic of environmental regulations.

"We have some common interests because we want to save jobs. I think we have the same goal," said Tanya Hutchins, a spokeswoman for the Machinists union, which represents more than 32,000 workers in the Puget Sound region. She added, "We just want to make sure it's a proposal that works for everyone."

Officials from the Machinists union, the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers, and others held a news conference Monday in Olympia to urge Gov. Jay Inslee to take a balanced approach.

The state Department of Ecology appears ready to sharply increase Washington's fish consumption rate, an obscure number that has huge implications because it helps set water quality standards. A higher number means fewer toxic pollutants would be permitted in waters.

The agency has been deliberating for months, with tribes, commercial fishermen and environmental groups lining up on one side to argue for more stringent regulations, and Boeing, business groups and municipalities on the other.

A draft rule is expected this summer that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must approve.

The EPA has told Washington that its current rate doesn't sufficiently protect those who eat the most fish, particularly Native Americans and Pacific Islanders. The federal agency also has warned Washington officials it plans to take over the process if the state doesn't come up with a final rule by the end of 2014.

Continue reading this story on the...