YAY: NEEDLE DROPBOX
In a perfect world, the city of Olympia wouldn’t need a dropbox for people to dispose of dirty needles. But it’s a reality that we need the new 24-hour dropbox installed outside the Capital Recovery Center and Thurston County Needle Exchange Program offices on Cherry Street. We hope it works as intended and reduces the number of used syringes strewn around the city’s parks and alleyways.
YAY: A COAL-FREE STATE
We applaud Gov. Jay Inslee’s long-term goal of weaning the state from coal-generated electricity. The state currently gets 30 percent of its supply from coal-fired plants. But it’s a tricky matter in the short term because shutting off coal would cause a spike in consumer energy rates. Still, we like that Inslee nudges us sternly in the right direction.
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YAY: DAN O’NEILL
South Sound businessman Dan O’Neill has engaged the Tumwater community in monthly conversations about its public schools for 22 years. Now he’s stepping down from his leadership role in the Community Roundtable. After serving under four superintendents and through numerous school safety and building issues, he’s turning the gavel over to Christy Upton. Thanks, Dan.
DUH: OIL SPILL RISK
The surprising, unexpected results are in! If three marine terminals are built on the West Coast, bringing increased oil tanker traffic to Puget Sound, the risk of an oil spill will spike by 68 percent. We poke fun at the obviousness of the study just released by the Puget Sound Partnership, but it documents a serious threat. The study analyzed the possible impacts of a terminal in Vancouver, British Columbia, to ship Alberta tar sands oil, and two coal terminals at Cherry Point and Delta, British Columbia.
We haven’t had a major spill in Puget Sound since 27,000 gallons of diesel were spilled near Anacortes in 1994. We fear adding nearly 900 additional cargo/container ships through the Strait of Juan de Fuca makes a major spill inevitable.
BOO: PAID TESTIMONY
The Environmental Priorities Coalition has fought unsuccessfully for several years for the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act, which would eliminate the Tris flame retardant from consumer furniture, toys and baby crib materials. Turns out, the deck was stacked against them.
Dr. David Heimbach, a former chief of Harborview Medical Center’s burn unit, has testified to lawmakers here and in other states against banning the toxic chemical. Last week, he surrendered his medical license for unprofessional conduct in not disclosing that he was a paid consultant for retardant chemical manufacturers. We hope lawmakers consider this fact in 2015.
YAY: SHELLFISH REPRIEVE
The South Sound shellfish industry gave a huge sigh of relief when China lifted its ban on imports of live shellfish from Puget Sound. It imposed the ban five months ago due to alleged high levels of inorganic arsenic and paralytic shellfish poisoning. The state’s Department of Ecology, which monitors the industry, disputed China’s findings.
The ban adversely affected businesses like Shelton’s Taylor Shellfish because China is our key export market. We’re glad that Taylor and others are getting laid off workers back on the job.
BOO: MENTAL HEALTH CUTS
Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Penn., understands that cutting state mental health budgets by a nationwide 40 percent has left seriously ill people without any treatment. “We have replaced the hospital bed with the jail cell, the homeless shelter and the coffin,” he told USA Today. OK, he gets it. But can he convince his Republican colleagues to do anything about it?