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September 19, 2013 at 4:22 PM
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell on Thursday sought a commitment from the Obama administration’s nominee to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that she would make ocean acidification a significant priority.
But the exchange briefly turned, albeit obliquely, to an issue at the heart of the debate about the U.S. response to ocean acidification: funding.
In response to a Seattle Times’ series examining the current and projected effects of changing sea chemistry in the Pacific Ocean, Cantwell asked Kathryn Sullivan, acting chief at NOAA, how the agency would respond to acidification’s growing threat to marine resources.
Follow the discussion here at 2:37.
“As you know very well, Senator, ocean acidification is one of the creeping threats of global change and the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Sullivan said during her confirmation hearing Thursday. “It’s a very difficult problem. It’s going to be a very difficult problem to monitor and provide foresight about to coastal communities.”
Sullivan said the agency had “made some progress” by adding warning systems to alert coastal communities and shellfish growers about incoming corrosive water or harmful algal blooms caused in part by rising carbon-dioxide emissions. Those systems already have helped the Northwest oyster industry — the first business in the world to feel the effects of acidification – avoid pumping sour water into hatcheries when young oysters are at their most vulnerable stages of development.
But “it’s a large-scale, truly global problem, as you know,” Sullivan added, “systemic in affecting the Earth’s systems but it’s also patchy and has very patchy local consequences. We will certainly continue to work forward with you, if I am confirmed, to make sure that we can put in the right sort of observing, forecasting and monitoring systems to help us be as alert and aware and provide as much foresight as possible on this condition.”
The exchange turned slightly more adversarial, however, when Cantwell sought more definitive answers.
“So you will develop sensors in critical areas,” Cantwell asked. “You will continue to do research? You will continue to deploy adaptive breeding programs, recommend management?”
Sullivan said, “Within the resources available to us, Senator, we will certainly do that. All of those are components of our current ocean acidification program as you know.”
Cantwell, in response, said, “OK. Within resources. That’s an interesting way of phrasing it.”
“I guess I would say we had to come up with the resources to get that initial program that you said pays dividends,” Cantwell continued. “And without it I think three or four or five generations of shellfish growers would have been wiped out. And we grow something like 25 percent of the shellfish in one bay in our state. So this is a very serious issue. So I hope that we cannot predicate it based on resources but on the urgency for this industry and for the resources to have this information.”
When scientists first tentatively linked the deaths of billions of oysters to changing sea chemistry back in 2009, Cantwell was one of the early backers of efforts supporting more research and monitoring, particularly for the hard-hit industry.
But the Seattle Times’ series, “Sea Change: The Pacific’s Perilous Turn,” showed that ocean acidification, caused by CO2 emissions, is happening faster than scientists initially predicted and poses a significant threat to marine resources, particularly commercial shellfish and fishing in the Northwest and Alaska. And it revealed that federal government spending on acidification research and monitoring across a half-dozen different agencies, including NOAA, is roughly $30 million a year — less than scientists have told Congress they need, and less, even, than the federal government has spent in some years just studying sea lions in Alaska.
See the stories here: www.seattletimes.com/seachange
November 6, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Washington state has found an issue that makes mincemeat of the famed Cascade Curtain: marijuana.
Unlike many Northwest issues, the vote on Iniatitve-502 did not break along traditional east-west lines. Instead, weirdly, it broke along a north-south axis.
Voters across the northern half of the state seemed supported the pot initiative, while counties to the south (with the exception of Skamania) voted it down.
Hardly the typical Washington voting map.
November 6, 2012 at 9:10 PM
Update: 9:12 p.m.
John Urquhart unseated Sheriff Steve Strachan Tuesday to become King County’s top law enforcement officer.
Urquhart jumped out to a big in initial returns.
Initial counts showed Urquhart leading 57 percent to Strachan’s 42 percent.
November 6, 2012 at 9:09 PM
Update: 9:08 p.m.
Longtime appellate attorney Sheryl Gordon McCloud defeated former state Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders for a six-year term on the state Supreme Court.
McCloud was leading with 56 percent of the vote, including more than 64 percent in vote-heavy King County.
Sanders served on the court for 15 years before losing his seat two years ago amid controversial remarks about certain minority groups having a crime problem.
Both candidates portrayed themselves as passionate defenders of constitutional rights.
But in their battle to replace Justice Tom Chambers, who is retiring from the court, McCloud criticized Sanders for making what she called “intemperate comments” when he served on the bench was a justice.
November 6, 2012 at 8:52 PM
In the race to replace retiring Washington Sate Auditor Brian Sonntag, Democrat state Rep. Troy Kelley was leading Republican businessman James Watkins by 53 percdent to 47 percent in initial returns.
Meanwhile, Democrat Kathleen Drew and Republican Kim Wyman were in a dead heat in the race to replace retiring Secretary of State Sam Reed. With more than 1 million votes cast, both had roughly 50 percent of the vote.
If Drew wins, she would be the first Democratic secretary of state since Vic Meyers, who lost a re-election bid in 1964.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Brad Owen was leading former state Senate Republican Leader Bill Finkbeiner 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent in the race to hold onto his seat.
Owen has been lieutenant governor since 1997. The lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate and takes command when the governor is out of state.
Finkbeiner is a moderate Republican who provided a key vote needed to pass a landmark gay-rights bill in 2006.
November 6, 2012 at 8:45 PM
Both Democrats in the 6th and 10th congressional districts jumped out to comfortable leads in initial returns.
Democratic state Sen. Derek Kilmer was leading Republican Bill Driscoll 59 percent to 41 percent in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks in Washington’s 6th Congressional District. Dicks said in March he would not run for a 19th term in Congress.
The district stretches north from Tacoma and includes most of the Kitsap Peninsula and Bainbridge Island.
In the newly created 10th Congressional District, Democrat Denny Heck had 55 percent to Republican Dick Muri’s 45 percent in initial results.
The 10th District, created after the 2010 Census, is centered around Olympia and includes Lakewood and Puyallup.
November 6, 2012 at 8:39 PM
In the state’s most expensive and perhaps ugliest attorney general’s race, Democrat Bob Ferguson held a sizeable lead over Republican Reagan Dunn with 1.4 million votes cast.
Ferguson was leading 54 percent to Dunn’s 46 percent in initial returns.
The contest featured two rising political stars and showcased the importance of the open seat they’re seeking; outside partisan groups spent more than Ferguson and Dunn combined trying to influence the election.
Both Ferguson and Dunn are members of the Metropolitan King County Council, where they sit next to each other in chambers.
They even claim to like one another — at least that’s what they said at the start of a campaign later rife with nasty, personal attacks.
The race to succeed Rob McKenna and become the state’s 18th attorney general got off to a pugnacious start with its first televised debate in June. Dunn went on the offensive in his introductory statement, stressing his crime-fighting experience as a federal prosecutor, a credential Ferguson lacks.
Ferguson countered by pointing out the attorney general’s job is focused mostly on civil, not criminal law. He noted he had more experience than Dunn in civil law.
In the August primary, Ferguson won 52 percent of the vote and called the result a “dream start” for his campaign. It soon turned into something else.
November 6, 2012 at 8:36 PM
An initiative that reimposes a law requiring a two-thirds vote in the state Legislature, or voter approval, to increase taxes passed Tuesday.
Initiative 1185, sponsored by Tim Eyman, was leading 64 percent to 36 percent in initial statewide counts.
The measure comes at a time when the state budget and the economy are still struggling and the state Supreme Court has mandated increased funding for public schools.
Eyman contends I-1185 is needed, because the last two-thirds requirement was approved by voters in 2010. Under state law, it takes a supermajority in the Legislature to change or repeal an initiative the first two years after passage — a near political impossibility.
But after two years have elapsed, only a simple majority vote is required. That’s an easier task, and lawmakers in the past have suspended the two-thirds rule to increase taxes.
Critics of the initiative argue the two-thirds requirement allows for minority rule — giving a relatively small group of legislators the ability to block any attempt to boost revenue.
November 6, 2012 at 8:15 PM
Watching the results come in on Tuesday night with supporters at an Everett restaurant, 1st District Congressional candidate John Koster said he felt good about his chances of winning.
“There were 13 self-funded candidates who ran in 2010 and three got elected,” he said. “We’ll trust the voters.”
Before arriving at the Everett restaurant, Shawn O’Donnell’s, he and his wife enjoyed a private dinner at another restaurant, a chance for some reflection. “It’s been a long haul,” he said.
Looking at his supporters, Koster said he was confident they were going to win.
“We ran a great grass-roots campaign,” he said. More than 100 volunteers were walking through precincts on Election Day, urging people to vote.
The restaurant held special meaning, Koster said: “This is where we started the campaign, and this is where we’re going to finish.”
November 6, 2012 at 8:11 PM
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell clinch her third term in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, defeating Republican Michael Baumgartner, according to the Associated Press.
Cantwell had led from the beginning against the lesser-known Baumgartner and had amassed more than $8 million in her campaign.
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