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EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Tours Commencement Bay, Discusses Importance of Protecting Puget Sound

Aug 13, 2014
Press Release
Puget Sound Recovery Caucus co-founders Derek Kilmer and Denny Heck bring EPA Administrator to Puget Sound to raise national attention on need for restoration in region

Tacoma, WA – Today, the co-founders of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-6) and Denny Heck (WA-10) hosted Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy in Tacoma to detail the importance of restoration efforts for the Puget Sound.

Following a roundtable discussion with community stakeholders, Heck and Kilmer gave Administrator McCarthy a tour of Commencement Bay to highlight the environment and the investments the region needs.

“Today we affirmed the need to protect our nation’s home, the Puget Sound, because it defines our history, culture, and economy,” McCarthy said.

“I’m glad EPA Administrator McCarthy got to see why the future of the Sound is so important to our region,” Kilmer said. “If we don’t protect our resources from harm, we will only be able to tell future generations about how majestic the Sound used to be. I want to preserve the landscape for my children and to ensure people’s livelihoods don’t disappear. With this visit and the proposals we are laying out, we’re taking the next step to make the recovery of the Puget Sound happen.”

“As locals, we recognize and respect the importance of the Puget Sound, and it’s time for the federal government to match that,” Heck said. “We brought Administrator McCarthy to the Sound so that she could see how the EPA can ensure long-term structural steps are in place to aid Puget Sound recovery.”

At a roundtable discussion, Kilmer and Heck released a new white paper describing the Caucus’ coordinated action steps at the federal level and how best to collaborate with stakeholders on efforts to improve the health of the Puget Sound.

Legislative initiatives presented in the white paper include:

  • Formalizing Puget Sound Recovery efforts: Discuss a bill that would formally recognize Puget Sound recovery efforts to ensure coordination and action at the federal level. This would be accomplished by giving the Puget Sound “program” status like the Chesapeake Bay and other great bodies of water within the Clean Water Act.
  • Advancing innovative stormwater solutions: To prevent flooding and habitat destruction caused by stormwater runoff, create a partnership with the EPA’s Office of Water to drive new research investments. 
  • Supporting ocean acidification research and monitoring: To deal with one of the largest threats to saltwater ecosystems, Congress and federal agencies should utilize new approaches like the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act of 2014 to direct more private sector resources toward this pressing issue.
  • Restoring habitats through the Puget Sound: Habitat restoration is important to benefitting local communities, businesses, and ecosystems. State and local stakeholders, in partnership with the Caucus and the federal government can identify the area’s most in need, including Puget Sound beaches.
  • Promoting economic development and environmental protection: To protect biologically diverse and complex ecosystems, and a marine industry that grosses approximately $30 billion in revenue every year, identify financial mechanisms that allow businesses to invest in smart conservation practices, as well as expand energy efficiency loan programs and weatherization programs. 
  • Removing derelict vessels and creosote pilings: Similar to efforts advanced by Washington, create a federally coordinated program for states, designated local municipalities, and federally recognized tribes to apply for funds for the purposes of preventive measures on derelict vessels and the removal of creosote pilings.

Representatives Heck and Kilmer co-founded the Congressional Puget Sound Caucus last year to reflect their commitment to preserving the Puget Sound. The caucus is the only Congressional working group devoted exclusively to promoting Puget Sound cleanup efforts, and builds on the legacy left by former Congressman Norm Dicks, a longtime advocate for the health of the Puget Sound. The caucus continues to be focused on promoting the three region-wide Puget Sound recovery priorities: preventing pollution from urban stormwater runoff, protecting and restoring habitat, and restoring and re-opening shellfish beds.