Friday, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Denny Heck (WA-10), co-founders of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, spoke out against a draft plan from the Trump Administration that would slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget for Puget Sound cleanup by 93 percent to $2 million.
“Puget Sound is an iconic body of water that is vital to our economy and to who we are as Washingtonians,” said Kilmer. “Unfortunately, the Trump Administration’s previewed budget proposes cutting funding to restore the Sound by 93%. On the heels of a speech in which President Trump committed to working for clean water and good jobs, this proposal would devastate efforts to restore shellfish beds, revitalize salmon runs, and recover the Sound for future generations. The federal government should be a partner in making the Sound healthy again, and as Vice Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee I will fight back against this completely irresponsible proposal.”
“President Trump and EPA Administrator Pruitt come from business backgrounds, so they know the true costs behind missed opportunities,” said Heck. “When the federal government fails to invest in the health of critically important bodies of water like our Puget Sound, environmental problems become environmental disasters. It is in our nation’s best interest to continue an adequate level of funding for Puget Sound restoration. The return on investment is strong and the price of doing nothing is costly beyond our imagination.”
Clean water in Puget Sound is essential to support 3,200 shellfish jobs that generate $184 million in revenue each year. 80 percent of statewide tourism and recreational dollars are tied to Puget Sound. The state’s marine industry – which includes fishing fleets, ports, and seafood processors – generates $30 billion annually.
The Puget Sound Geographic program provides grants to state, local, and tribal governments to implement projects to improve water quality, enhance fish passage, increase salmon habitat, and protect shorelines. Every EPA dollar spent on Puget Sound recovery efforts has leveraged more than $24 in matching funds from other federal agencies and local partners, including the state, tribes, and non-profits.
Examples of projects these investments have funded include:
- Kitsap County Health District’s Shellfish Restoration and Protection Project: Kitsap Health and local partners identified and cleared up pollution to improve water quality and restore shellfish areas. The initiative also led to the establishment of a community shellfish farm.
- Pierce County Shellfish Watershed Project: The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department took on a comprehensive examination of water quality for the county, focused on shellfish areas most at risk to long-term harvest restrictions.
- Protecting and Restoring waters important to Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe: Channel restoration was required to restore the Lower Dungeness floodplain. Protective dikes were moved away from nearshore areas and large woody debris was re-established in the upper watershed.
- Chico Creek Estuary Restoration Project: Fish passage blockages were removed, 2.3 acres of salt marsh and 1.1 acres of nearshore uplands were protected and 1.1 acres of estuarine and riparian habitat were restored. Stormwater runoff to the estuary from contaminant-laden impervious surfaces was also reduced and water quality protections for a shellfish growing area in Chico Bay were improved.
Congressmen Kilmer and Heck co-founded the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus in 2013 as part of their ongoing commitment to preserving Puget Sound. The three priorities of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus are: preventing pollution from urban storm water runoff, protecting and restoring habitat, and restoring and re-opening shellfish beds.