November 28, 2016
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Kitsap Sun: New EPA water quality rules complicate the issue, set up potential litigation

Kitsap Sun environmental reporter Christopher Dunagan took a deep look at the new water quality standards approved this month by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The bottom line: Washington state leaders will be pressured to appeal the EPA standards to federal court. Cities, counties and employers are required under the new rules to clean water to standards that are unattainable with current technology or any technology likely to be available in the foreseeable future.

The new EPA limit for PCBs in surface water, for instance, is 7 parts per quadrillion. That's 1,000 times smaller than 7 parts per trillion, and cannot be measured with current technology. Even the Department of Ecology's proposed limit of 170 parts per quadrillion -- the same limit as has been in place -- can't be detected by normal methods.

“There is no wastewater-treatment technology available today or in the reasonably foreseeable future that can treat to the levels that EPA has adopted,” said Chris McCabe, executive director of the Northwest Pulp and Paper Association.

The EPA standards include "implementation tools" that include variances, additional time for compliance and "intake credits" for manufacturers, but those tools could come under legal fire that would leave dischargers with a no-win situation.

“What EPA has given us,” McCabe said, “is a big litigation nightmare.”

For more on the clean water rule, contact Brandon Houskeeper, AWB government affairs director for environmental issues.

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A Lack of Effective Training

Too many Washington kids are not college- or job-ready

By Steve Mullin, president of the Washington Roundtable

Students in Washington classrooms today will soon enter a job market bursting with opportunities. New research from The Boston Consulting Group and the Washington Roundtable projects 740,000 job openings in our state in just the next five years. State job growth over that period is expected to be nearly triple the national average.

Increasingly, Washington students will need a postsecondary credential -- such as a technical or industry certification or license, apprenticeship, associate degree or bachelor's degree -- to access the best job opportunities our state has to offer.

A survey of Washington Roundtable member companies shows a universal preference to hire Washington kids for Washington jobs. We have no doubt other employers feel similarly.

The challenge is this: Just 31 percent of the students who attend a public high school in our state go on to attain a postsecondary credential by age 26. Less than a third are prepared for the jobs of the future. 

That's not good enough.

Read the full op-ed in The Seattle Times
Supporting the Snake River Dams

Our dams support us; it's time to support them

By U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Following Judge Michael Simon's recent decision to require a full review of the Columbia and Snake River systems, there has been a movement to reevaluate what our dams mean to Eastern Washington.

Here in our region, the four lower Snake River dams provide renewable, reliable, affordable energy and act as a superhighway for barges to transport goods. As a community, we need to let our federal partners know that we want to continue to invest in and improve our dams.

Currently, the Army Corps of Engineers is undertaking a public "scoping" period through January 17, 2017, providing an opportunity for Eastern Washington residents to voice their support for dams and the benefits they offer to the region.

Read the full op-ed from The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
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