December 2, 2019
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Passages: William Ruckelshaus, former head of EPA and founder of public policy center

William Ruckelshaus, who was the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency, then defied President Nixon during Watergate, and went on to become a leader in finding solutions to complex public policy issues in Washington state, has passed away. He was 87.

Ruckelshaus was the first head of the newly created Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, pushing through health-based standards for air pollutants and car emissions, as well as banning the pesticide DDT.

Three years later, he defied President Richard Nixon's order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Ruckelshaus was one of several people pushed out of office in an episode that became known as the "Saturday Night Massacre."

In 1975 he moved to Seattle to become senior vice president of Weyerhaeuser Co. In 1983, Ronald Reagan's chief of staff, James Baker, persuaded Ruckelshaus to return to the EPA. He left government in 1985 and moved to Seattle to work in the private sector.

He later moved back into the public policy arena through the William D. Ruckelshaus Center, which works with both the University of Washington and Washington State University to "help parties involved in complex public policy challenges in the State of Washington and the Pacific Northwest tap university expertise to develop collaborative, durable and effective solutions."

"This center establishes an invaluable neutral forum for addressing some of our state’s most complex and pressing challenges," Ruckelshaus said.

Among its recent work was the Road Map to Washington's Future, which was cited by speakers at the 2019 Housing Forum that AWB and other statewide groups held in Bellevue.

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Good Building

Cross-laminated timber can help the Northwest lead on the Green New Deal

By Seattle City Councilmember Abel Pacheco and his director of communications, Conor Bronsdon

We live in a region of pioneers and conservationists in a land built on the back of the timber industry. The idea of sustainable working forests fits not just our historical industrial strengths, it fits our regional ethos. In the Pacific Northwest, we want to live green. It's time for Seattle to take the lead on mass timber. With cross-laminated timber (CLT) and other mass timber products we can move to solve our housing crisis, develop needed density, and address climate change -- all while staying true to our regional culture and history.

By using CLT in the development of much-needed housing we will actively remove and store carbon from the atmosphere -- every cubic meter of timber growth captures one ton of carbon from the atmosphere. Construction would simultaneously emit less carbon.

Encouraging CLT usage could also jump-start stalled rural economies that have languished since the logging industry slowed down. Construction startup Katerra opened the nation's largest capacity CLT manufacturing facility in Spokane and Vaagen Brothers Lumber, which has been in Washington for four generations, is expanding CLT production operations in Colville. With the state making code changes fall that allow for the use of mass timber in buildings as tall as 18 stories, the region is primed to use CLT to address our affordable housing crisis.

Read the full op-ed in The Puget Sound Business Journal
A more resilient workforce

Prepare students for technical careers

By The Seattle Times editorial board

Once, all it took to secure a satisfying and well-paying job was a high school diploma and a good work ethic. But that story has largely changed.

That's why Washington's public schools must offer robust, high-quality Career and Technical Education programs to help prepare the state's vocationally minded students for career success.

A college education should be within reach of all students with the aptitude and interest to pursue a four-year degree, but not everyone wants to follow that path. At the same time, there is a high and consistent workforce demand for skilled tradespeople, without whom Washington's economy would shudder to a halt.

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times.