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
September 10, 2013 at 11:30 AM
WASHINGTON — King County Sheriff John Urquhart said his deputies will vigorously enforce Washington’s new marijuana law, especially against underage pot smokers.
Urquhart is testifying today before the Senate Judiciary Committee on how to reconcile the state’s legalization of pot and the still-on-the-books federal prohibition.
In an interview before the hearing, Urquhart said he sees little conflict between state and federal laws except for one: lack of legal banking services for marijuana vendors and growers. Urquhart said keeping recreational pot a cash-only business will make it vulnerable to robberies, wage fraud and other crimes that afflict the state’s legal medical marijuana industry.
Other than that, Urquhart said, his 700 deputies should be able to carry out the Justice Department’s guidelines under which the federal government gave tacit blessing to Washington and Colorado’s new recreational weed laws.
That among other things means sheriff deputies will show no tolerance for anyone under 21 caught with marijuana. They also will confiscate pot from adults who smoke it in public, though Urquhart said he would allow some discretion to skip the $103 fine for those caught far from crowds.
“We’re on the same page here” with federal regulators, Urquhart said. Legal recreational pot “is going to reduce law-enforcement workload significantly.”
Urquhart, a narcotics detective for 12 years, strongly backed last year’s Initiative 502 to legalize pot. He said he hopes the new industry remains mainly a mom-and-pop operation. Such small growers and vendors, he said, would have less clout than big marijuana operations to push to allow public advertisement for pot, which he opposes.
“The war on drugs has failed,” he said. “It’s time to try something new.”
August 8, 2013 at 5:43 PM
Updated at 6:50 p.m. with a comment from a Reichert spokeswoman.
U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert is apparently again thinking about running for statewide office.
Reichert, a former King County Sheriff and fifth-term Republican representative in the 8th Congressional District, said in a Thursday interview with C.R. Douglas of Q13 FOX News that he is considering running for governor or U.S. Senate in 2016.
“I’m thinking about all those options,” he said. “I still feel like I’m young and energetic. And, you know, we’ll see how Mr. (Gov. Jay) Inslee does, and if he continues on the path that he is, it doesn’t look too good for him. So I’ll keep an eye on that. And who knows what Patty Murray does in the next year or two?”
Reichert, 62, is a popular politician who represents a safe Republican seat. He has toyed with running for statewide office in the past.
In the run-up to the 2012 election, he for months remained coy about possibly challenging U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell before ultimately seeking re-election.
Reichert spokeswoman Leighanna Driftmier said that “the congressman is focused on serving the 8th District of Washington right now. That’s his top priority.”
“But,” Driftmier said, “of course he does consider all opportunities as they come.”
June 27, 2013 at 4:10 PM
WASHINGTON — The suits are as conservative as ever, but a lot more women are in ‘em.
A pair of portraits featured in Sen. Patty Murray’s first Instagram photo Thursday captures the remarkable rise of women in Congress. The first image, taken in 1993, shows five of the then-record six women serving in the Senate.
Murray, a Washington Democrat, swept into office that year along with Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California and Carol Mosely Braun of Illinois — tripling the Senate’s female population. California became the first state to have two female senators.
Today, the Senate includes 20 women. Four of them are new members who Murray helped to elect in 2012 as chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Three states — Washington, California and New Hampshire — have all-female Senate delegations.
The 113th Congress also has a record 81 women in the House.
June 10, 2013 at 3:30 PM
WASHINGTON — Federal approval for an open-pit copper and gold mine near Alaska’s Bristol Bay should weigh how it might endanger the $1.5 billion commercial salmon fishing industry that flows from the pristine watershed 150 miles southwest of Anchorage.
That was the message sent Monday by five West Coast Senate Democrats, including Washington’s Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, to President Obama about the huge Pebble Mine project. The lawmakers — joined by Oregon’s Jeff Merkley and California’s Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer — signed a letter to the administration urging it to protect thousands of jobs along the coast that depend on the fish.
Bristol Bay is home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. But the region also contains large mineral deposits, which a private consortium hopes to tap. The Environmental Protection Agency is finishing a draft assessment about Pebble Mine’s potential impact on fisheries and wildlife.
The letter cites a report from the University of Alaska’s Institute of Social and Economic Research estimating that Bristol Bay salmon fishing and processing is worth $674 million to the three states, responsible for 12,000 seasonal jobs as well as 6,000 full-time jobs.
Pebble Mine’s backers say the project could generate $1 billion in annual economic activity. But the proposal has been controversial among Bristol Bay residents, and faces opposition from Native American groups.
March 19, 2013 at 12:17 PM
WASHINGTON — The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote Thursday on Sally Jewell’s nomination as Interior secretary. The vote comes two weeks after the REI chief executive’s sometimes-pointed confirmation hearing before the committee’s 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans.
Jewell’s ties to conservationist causes drew sharp questions from committee members who support more aggressive energy exploration on federal lands.
Still, her nomination is expected to clear the panel. A vote by the full Senate is expected shortly after, clearing the way for Jewell to replace Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has said he plans to leave at the end of March.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, most controversial of President Obama’s recent Cabinet nominees, won a 14-11 partisan vote before the Senate Armed Services Committee before winning final confirmation.
February 26, 2013 at 6:05 PM
WASHINGTON — With millions of federal workers facing possible unpaid furloughs from mandatory budget cuts slated to start Friday, Sen. Patty Murray took to the Senate floor Tuesday to point out the culprits: Republicans.
The Washington Democrat spoke out against the $85 billion in spending cuts while standing next to a chart labeled “Republican Plan for Sequestration.” A red WARN NOTICE was stamped on it.
That was a reference to a 30-day notice of furloughs that are expected to go out starting March 1 at most government agencies, from the Pentagon to the Bureau of Prisons to the Food and Drug Administration. The Federal Aviation Administration, for instance, has announced that in order to cut $483 million from its operating budget, all of its 40,000 workers will have to take 11 unpaid days off this year.
Murray contends Republicans’ refusal to accept any new taxes in order to offset the spending cuts is directly to blame for the coming furloughs. Republicans counter that they’ve already agreed to raise income taxes on families earning more than $450,000 a year and won’t agree to more.
February 11, 2013 at 6:00 AM
The State of the Union address. President Obama will spend part of the week practicing his remarks, which, political junkies surely know, will be delivered Tuesday evening. These speeches often have someone referring to them as the most important of — what? — the year, a term, a presidency. Here’s one bit of analysis from The Washington Post that calls Tuesday’s oratory the most important state of the union of Obama’s two terms, because he has an ambitious legislative agenda on everything from gun control legislation to immigration reform.
The Sunday New York Times said the speech will focus on boosting the economic prosperity of the middle class, while mentioning a few initiatives in education, infrastructure, clean energy and manufacturing.
The official Republican response to the president will come from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and the less official tea party response will come from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky.
U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are busy on the Violence Against Women Act. Murray and Cantwell both are involved in the debate over reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, and both are especially vocal about the law as it relates to Native Americans. The matter comes up for a vote Monday. Murray spoke last week on the Senate floor. The first few minutes of the video below give a flavor of what Cantwell has to say.
All this talk of gun control. In the ongoing back and forth on gun control, President Obama recently said, tweeted, to be more precise, that as many as 40 percent of guns are sold by private unlicensed sellers — without background checks. Obama has been challenged for saying that, but here is a pretty interesting take on this angle of the discussion.
PolitiFact says the claim is based on old data from the 1990s and rates it half true
Dennis Kucinich Road Tour.Former Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich is heading out on a speaking tour, discussing his views of his time in Congress and other topics. And, guess what, he’s not coming to the Northwest. That is so last year. Kucinich is going to Santa Barbara and Oakland, Calif., and Madison, Wis.
Tuesday is the last day to mail ballots in the Seattle school levy election. There are two levies, one operating, one capital. King County Elections will announce the first batch of results around 8:15 p.m.Tuesday.
Our relatively new Facebook page is up and running, looking for likes and friends.
December 6, 2012 at 11:00 AM
WASHINGTON — Maria Cantwell and her fellow Senate Democrats are ramping up their opposition to a pending federal proposal to ease restrictions on cross ownership of newspapers and broadcast outlets in Seattle and other large markets.
Cantwell and Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, held a news conference Thursday morning on Capitol Hill to blast a draft plan by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to drop a 37-year-old rule that has prevented newspaper owners from also operating a television station or a radio station in the same market.
This is the FCC’s third attempt since 2003 to rewrite media cross-ownership rules it says need updating in an era when more people are getting their news on the Internet. Twice before, courts have thrown out the FCC’s decisions for lack of public input.
Cantwell has been sharply critical of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s recent attempt to relax the ban. Specifically, the FCC is preparing to allow the same owner to operate a daily newspaper and a television station or a radio station in the same market.
Some critics say that would accelerate media monopolies by allowing conglomerates like Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which owns The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Fox News Channel and more than two dozen local TV stations.
Cantwell also is concerned about shrinking diversity in media ownership. As it is, minorities control just 39, or 2.2 percent, of full-power commercial TV stations in the nation, according to the FCC.
Sen. Patty Murray also has cited “abysmally low levels” of media ownership by women and minorities in calling on the FCC to justify its proposal.
But supporters of lifting the ban, including the Newspaper Association of America, say such action could help the ailing print industry by opening new business opportunities.
The Blethen family, majority owner of The Seattle Times, however, has long opposed easing cross-ownership rules.
November 30, 2012 at 6:00 AM
Good Morning. Happy Friday.
Who’s running for Seattle mayor in 2013? Lots of people. And some are just toying with the idea before, well, likely running. Former Seattle City Council member — or should I say, friends of Steinbrueck — have launched a beg-Peter-to-run Facebook page. Publicola has more details. Scroll down a bit. The other candidate who may not be able to resist the mayoral temptation is former King County Executive Ron Sims. Don’t miss the inside-baseball fight over where and how City Councilmember Tim Burgess made his announcement for mayor this week.
Running Olympia: As Olympia watchers have probably heard, state Sen. Ed Murray was elected by fellow Dems to be Senate majority leader. That sounds so simple, until you consider two other events, the squeaky close, gotta-do-a-recount race in the 17th Legislative District in Vancouver. State Sen. Don Benton, a Republican, is currently ahead of Democrat Tim Probst, by 78 votes. The recount is next week. So, I know, who is staying awake at night wondering if Benton wins or loses? Murray, probably. A couple of moderate Dems are threatening to join Republicans in the Senate and install one of the Dems, Sen. Rodney Tom of Medina, as the majority leader of some sort of coalition group in the Senate.
Sen. Murray is obviously trying to work around that while keeping himself as majority leader. So he offers committee assignments to folks he wants to keep, win over, whatever.
The world according to Grover Norquist: A bunch of Republican members of Congress are having second thoughts about their never-raise-taxes pledge with anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist. Seattle Weekly has an interesting piece tying that development to an alleged weariness of anti-tax crusaders in general, i.e., Washington’s own Tim Eyman. But, but, but. Didn’t voters just say yes in big numbers to Eyman’s latest offering, Initiative 1185, the measure that re-instates the two-thirds requirement to raise taxes in our Legislature? Yes, they did.
Politico has a piece arguing that Grover’s not over.
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