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How much fish can a Washingtonian eat?

Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled his new, higher target for fish consumption. Meeting it means lowering industrial pollution. Can lawmakers - and polluters - get down with 175 grams per day?
Can we clean up our waters enough to eat 175 grams of fish a day?

Can we clean up our waters enough to eat 175 grams of fish a day? Credit: hey skinny/Flickr

Olympia has a new number to fight over: 175.

That's the number (of grams of fish per day) state permitting officials will plug into a proposed - and extremely complicated - formula designed to help the state regulate industrial discharges into Washington's waters.

Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled the fish consumption number Wednesday along with the broad outline of a plan to regulate industrial discharges into the state's rivers, streams and bays. Needless to say, lots of eye-glazing details still have to be hammered out.

The weight of fish eaten daily is just one variable that will help lawmakers set limits on industrial discharges into state waterways. Some local corporations, Boeing chief among them, contend that raising the discharge standard significantly would make it too expensive to do business in Washington.

The current fish consumption standard is 6.5 grams per day. That’s roughly the weight of a saltine cracker or one fish meal every 27 days. The proposed standard of 175 grams per day translates into one fish meal per day. As a concession to industry fears that discharge targets might not be technologically feasible, Gov. Inslee proposes to increase the assumed likelihood of getting cancer from polluted fish from one in 1 million cases to one in 100,000 cases. (Like fish consumption, cancer-risk standard is another variable in the formula for industrial discharge levels.)

Inslee said an underlying concern is not to increase actual cancer risks with the revised likelihood of cancer and fish consumptions numbers. So if those new numbers are plugged into the new complicated master formula, and other variables show that an increased allowable pollution level leads to an actual increase in cancer cases, the new formula would not be used.
The state would look at the new and old formulas pertaining to an individual facility's discharge permit, and go with the one that has stricter health safeguards.

A key component in the discharge limit formula is how a human body absorbs and retains specific chemicals. So the final allowable discharge levels will vary chemical by chemical, and chemical combination by chemical combination. Increasing the fish consumption number will automatically make every discharge permit stricter.

"The bottom line is this,” said Gov. Inslee: “We are getting more protective, and in no instance will the real risk of cancer or any other harm go up. In fact, for 70 percent of these chemicals, the new standards will be more protective."

The governor dismissed past criticisms about stricter standards handicapping the state’s economy, because Wednesday was the first time his administration had floated a solid fish consumption number to study and debate.

Ted Sturdevant, Inslee's outgoing executive director for legislative policies, explained that the state hasn’t yet calculated a fish consumption figure for a so-called average Washingtonian. The current cancer-risk calculations are based on people in the highest risk categories, such as Native Americans and Pacific Islanders who eat fish that they catch themselves. (This is similar to the way air pollution regulations are based on high-risk groups such as people with asthma.)

At least one tribal representative believes the governor’s 175-gram-a-day consumption figure is too low. "My tribe eats over 800 grams of fish a day,” said Russ Hepfer, vice-chair of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, which is based in Port Angeles. "175 grams is a starting point. We think it should be higher."

The tribe, said Hepfer, had been frustrated for years because it did not know what fish consumption rates state government would propose. Now that the number is out there, he said, the tribe can work on getting the state to increase it.

The state health and ecology departments are supposed to use the 175-gram-a-day figure to map out proposed industrial discharge regulations by September. Gov. Inslee wants these and other proposed regulations ready for feedback and tweaking during the 2015 legislative session. The governor wants the Legislature’s buy in. But if the proposed regulations and legislation die in the session, inslee said he would make some sort of move. He declined to say what that move might be.


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Comments:

Posted Thu, Jul 10, 1:51 p.m. Inappropriate

If the tribes are eating 800 grams of fish per person per day then they need to foot a much bigger share of the recovery funding because they, then, are the ones wiping out the resource.

But in reality, public health is the trojan horse for Inslee's real agenda: payback to public sector unions, environmental groups and indian tribes; all big campaign contributors.

By enacting UNATTAINABLE water quality standards, Jay serves his paymasters thusly:

Public Sector Unions get to add members. Higher standards, especially those not met, require government problem solvers. The bureaucracy is grown. The union bosses profit and - with their auto pass through of union dues to the Democrat Party - The Party profits. Win/win!

Indian tribes get to continue to play their Professional Victim role. Again, to much profit. Unattainable standards ensure these campaign contributors are forever rewarded as aggrieved parties, forever mitigated, forever paid. Cha-ching!

Environmentalists get to feel good about themselves (so important). By disallowing industry, they will feel they are stopping degradations of our waterways. Feelings are what matter. Any thinking "environmentalist" will realize that - by lock-stepping with the Democrat Party - they are supporting that Party's illegal immigration policy and that policy will undo ANY environmental gains otherwise made. Unfortunately, the majority of the Dems' "environmental" supporters live on buzzwords and grant money. They stay in step so long as they are paid, the environment be damned.

No, Jay's water quality standards are not based on public health, not based on science, but based on politics; pursuing agendas and rewarding Party supporters. If that comes at the expense of Washington's citizenry and environment well, that's politics. The Party's disparate factions will all be paid and, so, they will all sing from the hymn book, they will all stay in step. And, together, they will trod the taxpayer, the environment, and the credibility of the government they currently hold.

BlueLight

Posted Thu, Jul 10, 1:51 p.m. Inappropriate

If the tribes are eating 800 grams of fish per person per day then they need to foot a much bigger share of the recovery funding because they, then, are the ones wiping out the resource.

But in reality, public health is the trojan horse for Inslee's real agenda: payback to public sector unions, environmental groups and indian tribes; all big campaign contributors.

By enacting UNATTAINABLE water quality standards, Jay serves his paymasters thusly:

Public Sector Unions get to add members. Higher standards, especially those not met, require government problem solvers. The bureaucracy is grown. The union bosses profit and - with their auto pass through of union dues to the Democrat Party - The Party profits. Win/win!

Indian tribes get to continue to play their Professional Victim role. Again, to much profit. Unattainable standards ensure these campaign contributors are forever rewarded as aggrieved parties, forever mitigated, forever paid. Cha-ching!

Environmentalists get to feel good about themselves (so important). By disallowing industry, they will feel they are stopping degradations of our waterways. Feelings are what matter. Any thinking "environmentalist" will realize that - by lock-stepping with the Democrat Party - they are supporting that Party's illegal immigration policy and that policy will undo ANY environmental gains otherwise made. Unfortunately, the majority of the Dems' "environmental" supporters live on buzzwords and grant money. They stay in step so long as they are paid, the environment be damned.

No, Jay's water quality standards are not based on public health, not based on science, but based on politics; pursuing agendas and rewarding Party supporters. If that comes at the expense of Washington's citizenry and environment well, that's politics. The Party's disparate factions will all be paid and, so, they will all sing from the hymn book, they will all stay in step. And, together, they will trod the taxpayer, the environment, and the credibility of the government they currently hold.

BlueLight

Posted Thu, Jul 10, 9:07 p.m. Inappropriate

Environmental standards should be based on a three day rotation of Filetofish, McChicken, and a Big Mac. Cheerios for breakfast and PBJ for lunch. I think that's about as close to science as you're gonna get.

Posted Fri, Jul 11, 5:25 p.m. Inappropriate

Inslee believes that we each eat 175 grams -- more than 6 ounces -- of fish per day.

He also believes that public policy should be based in science.

Where is the science for the 175/day average? Present it, sir. Otherwise we shall suspect hypocrisy.

simorgh

Posted Sat, Jul 12, 6:51 a.m. Inappropriate

"Inslee believes that we each eat 175 grams -- more than 6 ounces -- of fish per day."

That would explain most of Inslee's actions, heavy metals and other toxins have impacted his brain...or what is left of it.

Cameron

Posted Sat, Jul 12, 12:06 p.m. Inappropriate

According to today's Seattle Times the Governor has now done what he does well—split the baby. Or at least I think that's what the Times said he did, very complicated—this getting tough—the wisdom of Solomon!

afreeman

Posted Sat, Jul 12, 5:01 p.m. Inappropriate

We all eat (and drink) stuff we shouldn't, right? by this time we sort of know what eating chips and Big Gulps do; they make us fat and shorten our life span… we eat it anyway. So please tell us what mischief eating 6 oz. of fish is going to do to us relative to all the other bad stuff. It makes little sense to stop eating fish and substitute corn dogs.

kieth

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