The Trump Administration has proposed cutting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding for Puget Sound restoration by 93 percent, and that could be bad news for businesses that rely on the continued water cleanup efforts. Funding would drop from $28 million to $2 million.
Bill Dewey is director of public affairs for Taylor Shellfish Farms, a company that has harvested in Puget Sound for more than a century. He says the cuts would be devastating for water quality in the region.
“The federal funding that we’ve been getting into the Puget Sound estuary under the National Estuary Program has been invaluable for addressing pollution sources that have been impacting our shellfish beds,” he said.
Dewey says the funds have helped clean up historically-polluted shellfish areas. The administration’s budget includes a 25-percent cut to EPA funding overall. Trump plans to submit the budget to Congress next week for approval.
Dewey says the shellfish industry in Washington state supports more than 3,000 jobs and generates $180 million dollars annually.
“While that may not seem like a lot when you think about Seattle and Microsoft and Boeing, when you get out to the rural counties in Washington state, shellfish farming and shellfish aquaculture provides a tremendous amount of jobs in those rural economies, and really fuels those rural economies,” he explained.
A 17-percent budget cut to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is also proposed.
Mindy Roberts, Puget Sound director for the Washington Environmental Council, says NOAA and the EPA are critical for monitoring Washington’s waters, yet monitoring programs are often the first targeted for cuts.
“I think of monitoring programs like having headlights on your car,” she said. “You’re not going to barrel down the highway without any headlights on. They help us figure out what path we need to take.”
In Washington, NOAA operates National Marine Fisheries Service, National Ocean Service and National Weather Service offices, to name a few.
Proposed cuts to Puget Sound restoration could hurt Washington’s shellfish industry. (Ingrid Taylar/Flickr)
Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He's also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.