Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Another chance to protect Maury Island

Remember last year's bill to protect Maury Island and Puget Sound from harmful development that failed to pass the state House?

There's a new version this year that just passed the Senate - and it needs your help to make it to the governor's desk:
Summary of Substitute Bill: The DNR [Department of Natural Resources] is prohibited from leasing any state-owned aquatic lands located within the Maury Island Aquatic Reserve until a Washington appellate court enters a judgment as to who owns the proper title to the sand, gravel, and rock resources located on identified parcels of Maury Island. The prohibition on leasing applies only to leases for industrial uses or for the transportation of materials from a surface mine or other mining operation.

The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee must contract with an appropriate entity to review and analyze the conveyance documents from the original grant to the state and subsequent conveyance documents, for compliance with applicable statutory requirements in effect a the time of each sale for the use and the reservation of mineral rights and the title to sand and gravel.
Naturally, the suits at Glacier Northwest, a division of the Taiheiyo Cement conglomerate, don't like this bill at all. That's because they want to expand their operations and establish a bigger gravel mine on Maury Island - gouging out nearly ten percent of the land in the process! The mine itself would have a detrimental impact, but the ramifications could be even worse than that, considering that Taiheiyo and its subsidiaries have a dismal environmental record.

The state Senate's report on this year's bill (SB 6777) lists only Glacier lobbyists as persons testifying against protecting Maury Island:
CON: Steve Gano, Glacier Northwest; Peter Stoltz, Glacier Northwest; Steve Roos, Glacier Northwest.
Imagine that. It seems they're really the only ones who are against halting harmful and irresponsible industrial development.

In an editorial last year, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer concisely explained the stakes and the choice before the Washington State Legislature:
What would you miss more: Maury Island's Madrone trees, Chestnut-backed Chickadees and a reasonable supply of fresh water or an even larger gravel mine on the south end of the island?

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.
The Senate has acted. Now it is time for the House to take up this bill and vote on it. We have a supermajority, this is a critical piece of legislation, and Chris Gregoire is ready to sign it. It needs to go to the floor. Excuses from House Democratic leadership won't cut it.

Please contact your representatives today and urge their support for SB 6777. You can call the legislative hotline at 1.800.562.6000. Or, find your lawmakers using the legislative directory and send them an e-mail.


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