Yesterday, the state Department of Ecology released a draft water-quality rule, known as the “fish-consumption rule,” based on how much fish people consume. The new draft rule’s adoption depends on lawmakers’ willingness to grant the agency “new authority to ban certain toxic chemicals to prevent water pollution.”
The fish-consumption rule would dramatically raise the current fish-consumption rate to 175 grams a day, following the plan proposed by Jay Inslee. As Shift reported previously, fish consumption rates directly correlate with clean water rules. Simply put, higher fish consumption rates mean higher clean water standards based on a theory that the more fish people eat, the cleaner water in which the fish live must be. Unfortunately, Inslee and the bureaucrats at Ecology have unwisely elected to take their cue from a failed policy in Oregon and now seek to set an absurdly high fish consumption rate in Washington State.
The high fish consumption rate threatens to damage economic growth. Businesses—and cities across the state—would be saddled with an impossible burden to attain the new technology needed to meet unrealistic standards. So impossible that, in fact, the technology needed to meet the high standard doesn’t actually exist.
The Seattle Times reports that Inslee is also “seeking support for new legislation aimed at reducing toxic pollution at its source” as part of his plan to improve water quality in Washington State. His proposal would allow Ecology to “identify chemicals that are most problematic and ban their use if safer alternatives are found.”
Granting more authority to bureaucrats at the Department of Ecology has become a point of contention for Republican lawmakers—Inslee’s proposal is bound to face opposition in the Legislature. According to the Washington Policy Center Todd Meyers, the problem with Inslee’s plan is the “unintended consequences.” He told the Seattle Times, “Often what you get is people moving to more toxic chemicals.” He noted that it is “difficult to know if a safer alternative exists since those tend to be newer and less tested.”
The new draft water-quality rule released by the Department of Ecology is, in the end, another grab of power by Inslee and Olympia bureaucrats. It is a clear example of the Inslee administration’s disrespect for legislative authority.