Does Our State Need its Own Environmental Regulations?

Pitting the environment against the economy is based on a false presumption: that you can’t have both.

When I’m out on my stand-up paddleboard or hiking, it’s pretty easy to understand how clean air, water and soil contribute to our quality of life.  But until a few years ago, I didn’t quite get the connection between a healthy environment and a strong economy. 

Turns out, these basics – clean air, water and soil - are also an important economic driver.  One-third of our state’s economy is tied to natural resources -- through agriculture, forestry, fishing, outdoor recreation, waterborne trade and other activities.  http://www.ecy.wa.gov/economy.html/ 

Some people think weakening state environmental protections will help the economy by promoting job growth.  But pitting the environment against the economy is based on a false presumption:  that you can’t have both.  Solutions that help the environment and bolster the economy not only make sense, they are essential to quality of life in our state.

For examples on how well this can work, read Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant’s article, Conversations on Washington’s Future (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/about/ECOnverse02.html). 

To learn why state environmental regulations are sometimes more protective than federal regulations, see http://www.ecy.wa.gov/pubs/1201002.pdf.

To learn more about Washington’s environmental laws, see http://www.ecy.wa.gov/about/quality_laws.html.

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Nathan Ellis March 20, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Help! We’re suffocating from over-regulation as it is! I don't know anyone opposed to a common sense, balanced, environment policy. In government too often common sense yields to the extreme, and the fulcrum skewed so far to one side balance is rendered impossible. We need a government that compliments business growth and economic development, not sets itself up as an adversary.
Christie Anderson March 22, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Agreed Nathan!
Karen Harbaugh August 18, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Problem is, if a growth management ordinance says that you can't have anything except certain small retail stores, arts-and-crafts and tourism businesses, or farms under a certain small acreage, only one house/human habitation on land under 5 acres all in the name of protecting the environment, that's going to restrict job growth and security in a huge way in a rural area. Those kinds of jobs on average aren't enough to promote a healthy middle-class lifestyle for a community, especially without broadband internet access. Farming is a precarious business that is never guaranteed a steady income on a small scale. Retail jobs don't pay much over minimum wage. As for art-related jobs--you'll never be able to pay the rent or the mortgage if you decide to go into art/craft as a career. Been there, done that. I don't think it has to be an either-or situation with regard to a healthy rural economy and the environment, but I think those who live in largely rural areas have to strike some hard bargains in exchange for what they're giving up. If I were living in such an area (and my mother lives in Lakebay, so I KNOW how difficult it would be to run a business out of your home over there--I have to stand in the middle of the street just to get--maybe--minimal cellphone access), I'd negotiate with legislators and demand that the infrastructure to enable business-class broadband internet and wireless access be built in every town in the Key Peninsula...among other things.


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