Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Maury Island debate isn't over yet

Legislation to stop mining expansion on Maury Island couldn't make it out of the House earlier last week, but the debate is far from over:
A bill that prohibited expansion of a Maury Island sand and gravel mine passed in the Senate but died in the House. Senate leaders resurrected it in the form of a budget amendment, but House leaders have rejected that move and the entire budget process has ground to a halt.

Sen. Erik Poulsen, D-West Seattle, said it defies logic to begin the restoration plan and create the Puget Sound Partnership -- the agency that will lead it -- while allowing a gravel mining company to expand its operations in an area home to eelgrass, salmon and seabirds. He is behind the push to revive legislation that would prohibit the expansion.
Some House Democrats are upset that the Senate has made the Maury Island provision a sticking point. Said Majority Lynn Kessler: "It's just a terrible precedent to set, putting failed bills into our budget document."

The bill did pass the state Senate, so it's not exactly a failure. It didn't make it out of the House, but then again, it never came to a vote. The Puget Sound Partnership effort to clean up our inland waters is valuable legislation, but to pass it while leaving Maury Island unprotected doesn't make much sense. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer opined a few weeks ago:
The odds of anyone looking back 100 years from now and saying, "It's a crying shame we never expanded that sand and gravel mine," are slim.

We can't say the same thing for further harming more of our region's natural beauty and the vital habitat it affords our plants and wildlife.
House Democratic leaders should do what they can to build support for the Maury Island provision in the caucus. We've got a Democratic supermajority. Acting to protect valuable ecosystems shouldn't be difficult.

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