Is there a connection between Sen. Ericksen's gratis meals from lobbyist's and the desire to close/cut our local Department of Ecology? Ericksen, R-Ferndale, accepted more meals and drinks from lobbyists than any other elected official in Olympia during the first four months of this year. According to the Seattle Times (June 2, 2013) "many of the lobbyists who treated Ericksen represented energy and oil companies...". Ericksen leads the Senate's environment committee and wields influence on policies.
The State Department of Ecology has a Bellingham office. This department focuses on water and air quality, waste disposal, toxic spills and very timely, will be involved with reviewing permits for the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point. Having a local office allows for faster response time in emergency cases and is a convenience for local people needing their service. We now have people involved in our county, familiar with issues important to us. Closing this office would require employees to drive to Whatcom County from Bellevue to handle local issues.
I believe we would be naive to think that Sen. Ericksen's attention from energy lobbyists and his voting interests aren't connected. Oil and energy interests would prefer less government oversight and Washington's budget concerns may be the catalyst to close this office. This is our water, our air, our way of life and we must protect it.