Budget deal snags on Boeing’s appetite for seafood study

One reason state lawmakers cannot land an agreement on a new budget centers on a dispute over how much seafood Washington residents devour.

Boeing Co. is concerned at the prospect of changes in state rules which would increase estimates of the amount of fish residents eat.

Any increase would likely trigger stricter limits on the levels of allowable pollutants in water discharged from their industrial facilities. Compliance could require millions of dollars in renovations at the facilities.

The Senate-passed budget calls for a comprehensive study — see Section 302 (12) –– of the number and type of fish consumed in Washington as well as where they fish are caught and by whom. The cost is estimated at around $1 million and it would need to be finished before any rule-making began.

House Democrats and Gov. Jay Inslee oppose the study which they view as an attempt to delay the process of updating the rules.

This afternoon, compromise language is being drafted that would result in gathering data for the regulatory process and help secure a budget deal.

Under Gov. Chris Gregoire, the state Department of Ecology was on course to revise the rules in a way that would toughen pollution standards but Gregoire derailed the effort. If you want a good idea of the issue check out this story by Jordan Schrader of The News Tribune.

As Robert McClure reported, Gregoire relented under heavy lobbying from Boeing and other businesses. Her ecology director at the time, Ted Sturdevant, is now a key advisor to Inslee.

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