Tag: Patty Murray
With industrial safety in the news after the horrific April 17, 2013 fertilizer plant blast in West, Texas, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen and other members of the Washington congressional delegation are pressing for results from a federal investigation into the April 10, 2010 refinery explosion that killed seven Tesoro workers in Anacortes.
Here is a link to the letter that the Everett Democrat sent to Rafael Moure-Eraso, chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, also signed by U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.
UPDATE: After he saw this blog post, State Rep. Jeff Morris, D-40th, alerted us to the fact that he also sent a letter to the Chemical Safety Board dated March 28, calling for the board to get moving and finish its report on the Tesoro tragedy.
The Washington Department of Labor and Industries fined Tesoro $2.4 million in October, 2010, alleging “willful violations.”
The company appealed that fine,
but my efforts to determine the result of that appeal have not yet borne fruit. UPDATE: Jan Raish, spokeswoman at the state’s Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, said the appeal is still pending. The state and the company have been filing motions in the case but no hearing has yet been held. Raish said the typical case gets through the board in less than a year, but this one is a lot more complex.
The federal Chemical Safety Board apparently did announce some investigation findings in April 2011. In this Reuters report via Insurance Journal, the board blamed an improperly-maintained heat exchanger for the blast. The company denied that finding.
By John Stark
U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have joined Whatcom County’s two U.S. House representatives, Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene in urging President Barack Obama to designate a national monument in the San Juan Islands.
Here is the joint press release from the four Democrats, which includes the text of their letter to Obama:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a joint letter sent Monday, the Northwest Washington Congressional delegation called on President Barack Obama to take action to conserve close to 1,000 acres of federally owned land on the San Juan Islands with a Presidential National Monument designation.
U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representatives Rick Larsen (D-WA-2), and Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1) urged President Obama to make such a designation prior to the departure of Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar later this year. Salazar has led the Administration’s efforts on conserving the federally owned lands in the San Juan Islands, including holding multiple community forums in Washington state over the last several years. Salazar announced on January 16 that he would leave the post and return to Colorado later this year.
In the letter to President Obama, Cantwell, Murray, Larsen and DelBene also announced their intention to reintroduce legislation in the 113th Congress that would conserve the land through a Congressional National Conservation Area (NCA) designation. Currently, there is no long-term comprehensive management plan for these lands, which the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversees.
“As the 113th Congress and your second term commence, we write to renew our support for the dual-track approach to conserving certain federally owned land parcels in the San Juan Islands that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM),” Cantwell, Murray, Larsen and DelBene wrote. “While we will continue to push for the swift passage of our legislation to conserve these areas, we want to make clear that we believe a National Monument designation offers another pathway that could expedite our shared goals. Before Secretary Salazar leaves office, we urge you to consider designating a National Monument in the San Juan Islands, bringing his and our efforts to fruition.”
The citizen-driven effort to preserve these lands has generated widespread, passionate support from the community. In February 2012, Cantwell, Salazar and members of the community held a public meeting in Anacortes to discuss federal efforts to preserve the land. In July 2011, Cantwell and Larsen held a community listening session in Friday Harbor to hear feedback on the effort to create a National Conservation Area. In April 2011, Salazar held a meeting in Washington state with state and local leaders to discuss San Juan Islands conservation efforts.
Permanent protection of the approximately 1,000 acres of federally owned lands would ensure it remains in its current state and publicly accessible, despite higher use. The federally owned lands include over 60 locations that range from pine forests to lighthouses and are visited by more than 70,000 people every year.
“A National Monument designation will protect the sensitive and beautiful BLM lands in the San Juan Islands and would make a lasting impact of the hundreds of hours of service made by local volunteers to care for the land,” said Tom Reeve, a member of the Islanders for the San Juan Islands National Conservation Area. “We applaud the leadership of our Congressional delegation and urge President Obama to act now to meet the call of San Juan islanders to preserve these cherished lands for future generations of islanders and visitors.”
Full text of the letter is below.
January 28, 2013
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As the 113th Congress and your second term commence, we write to renew our support for the dual-track approach to conserving certain federally owned land parcels in the San Juan Islands that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). While we intend to reintroduce legislation to protect these cherished lands permanently through a Congressional National Conservation Area designation, we fully support your alternative efforts to conserve these same lands through a Presidential National Monument designation (an authority that Congress granted as part of the Antiquities Act of 1906) if such a designation ensures the same level of community involvement as the legislative effort.
The BLM manages approximately 1,000 acres in the San Juan Islands that are important wildlife habitat and draw thousands of tourists every year. Secretary of the Interior Salazar has been particularly helpful to our efforts to preserve these lands. We greatly appreciated his visits in April 2011 and February 2012 to engage local stakeholders and discuss the best way to protect and preserve public access to these unique federal parcels. His willingness to listen to our local constituents and their concerns about the legislation and National Monument designation was instrumental in gaining local support for the dual-track approach. The volunteer community group that first developed the idea of a National Conservation Area, in addition to local, state and tribal stakeholders, now supports a National Monument designation as well. While we will continue to push for the swift passage of our legislation to conserve these areas, we want to make clear that we believe a National Monument designation offers another pathway that could expedite our shared goals.
Before Secretary Salazar leaves office, we urge you to consider designating a National Monument in the San Juan Islands, bringing his and our efforts to fruition. Thank you for your interest in the San Juan Islands. We look forward to working with you to protect these areas for future generations.
By John Stark
U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen. will be at Squalicum Boathouse this morning (Thursday, Nov. 1) at 11:15 to discuss their “Jobs for Washington” program.
In case you just joined us, all four are Democrats. Cantwell and Larsen are campaigning for reelection. Inslee is in a close raise to fill the seat of departing Gov. Chris Gregoire, facing Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna.
Campaign aides say the Bellingham stop will focus on federal support for higher education, and Western Washington University students will be there to talk about Pell Grants and related programs that help students and their families pay for college.
Sen. Patty Murray, a longtime defender of federal social spending, might seem to be an unlikely choice for the new “super committee” in charge of finding more ways to cut the federal debt.
As soon as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Murraay as one of his three nominees to the committee, GOP groups fired off press releases saying that Murray’s selection showed the Dems were not serious about tackling the challenges of curbing spending on Medicare and Medicaid.
But one could just as easily argue that having Murray on board as a co-author will help Reid sell what is likely to be a painful budgetary package to other Senate Democrats whose views align with Murray’s.
The super committee was one of the features of the deadline debt ceiling compromise between President Obama and Congressional Republicans. I’m still trying to figure out why anyone thought that the creation of another budgetary doomsday machine would be a good idea, but that’s exactly what this is. The Seattle Times calls it a “poison pill:”
“It has to agree on an unprecedented $1.5 trillion plan to reduce the deficit, through cuts, tax increases or both. Otherwise, automatic spending cuts to defense, Medicare and other programs will kick in — triggering a kind of a mutual fiscal poison pill for Democrats and Republicans.”
So we’ve reached a point where leaders in both political parties have to take the federal government (and the citizen taxpayers it is supposed to serve) hostage in order to motivate themselves to do what they are being paid to do.
This seems to be the perfect way to produce still more budgetary policy pigs wearing the lipstick of compromise. But what do I know?
After weeks of excruciating, sometimes nauseating political maneuvering over the debt ceiling, a deal has been struck. Or has it? According to this story in the Washington Post, GOP Presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney has come out in opposition to the deal, a top Tea Party official has denounced it, and Michelle Bachman says she will vote no.
(As of 10 a.m. PDT, I see no comment yet from our own delegation, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen and Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.)
But amid all the commentary about who scored a political victory and who suffered a political defeat– written by D.C. reporters who cover national government as though it were a sporting event–it’s pretty hard to sort out how this deal will impact our economy and the people who depend on it.
Who could defend a government that depends on ever-increasing levels of debt to finance its operations? That approach, on a household level, caused the Great Recession we’re still trying to survive. It would, in the not t00 distant future, lead to a disaster in government financing as well.
But the relatively sharp cuts in government spending that are now in the works may have some awfully unpleasant side effects too. People who think this deal will help revive the economy may be in for a shock. As of this moment the Dow Jones is down another 100 points.
Lummi Nation has released a written statement responding to the letter sent to the Bureau of Indian Affairs by U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, expressing concern over the statemate in negotiations beween Lummi Nation and Whatcom County over a new lease for the mainland Lummi Island Ferry dock on the Lummi Reservation.
The statement reiterates tribal concerns about traffic safety and the need for a hefty county expenditure on safety improvements in the area as part of any new lease deal.
The statement also refers to a 2009 traffic study prepared for both the county and tribe. In general, the study tends to downplay the safety issues arising from ferry operations.
The emailed statement also includes an interesting chronology of ferry history from the tribe’s perspective. Among other things, the chronology mentions unsuccessful efforts to get funding for traffic safety improvements.
Here is the text of the tribe’s statement, which is silent on the question of whether the tribe is prepared to take steps to stop ferry operations after April 10, 2011, when the tribe’s deadline expires:
The Lummi Nation appreciates Congressman Larsen, Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell engaging in this complex, longstanding issue.
For ten years the Lummi Nation has worked to resolve these issues and obtain a lease that is fair for everyone.
Safety is of paramount concern to the Lummi Nation.
There are numerous safety issues associated with the ferry traffic through the Lummi reservation: increased traffic volume, increased speeding that has contributed to fatalities, delayed access to the roadway because of traffic volume, and fear that our families and our community feel for their safety.
There are numerous safety issues at the side of the ferry dock that is on the Lummi Reservation: ferry line-up interferes with fishermen’s ability to exercise Treaty rights, and ferry line-up impacts pedestrians, including school children and families trying to go to the grocery store. Treaty-protected fishermen often find the boat ramp blocked by the ferry line-up, and ferry wake has damaged boats and led to injuries.
“At the Lummi Nation’s request Whatcom County has studied traffic safety and boat safety related to the side of the Gooseberry Point ferry dock, and these studies identified simple solutions that improve safety for everyone,” Lummi Nation Chairman Cliff Cultee said. “The Lummi Nation has participated in negotiations with Whatcom County for 10 years. The county need only review the findings in its own studies to understand our safety concerns.”
Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen’s effort to get federal help in resolving the Lummi Island ferry stalemate appears to be bearing fruit.
Both Kremen and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, have shared a March 2 letter sent to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, over the signatures of Larsen and U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, concerning the ferry situation.
The letter, addressed to BIA regional director Stanley Speaks in Portland, Ore., seems mild enough. The three say they are “concerned about this matter,” and they ask the BIA to respond to the county and provide “guidance and clarification on the BIA’s role as it relates to the lease of the tidelands held in trust.”
In an accompanying press release, Larsen uses somewhat stronger language:
“The bottom line is, we can not cut off access to the island for residents who depend on the ferry to go to school, shop for groceries or commute to work. Shutting down the ferry is not a solution to this problem. Negotiations on this issue must resume so a productive solution to this issue can be reached without hurting the local community.”
By coincidence, both Kremen and Lummi Indian Business Council Chairman Clifford Cultee are in Washington D.C., and Kremen said he expects to meet with Cultee on Friday, March 4 to discuss the ferry situation.
Up to now, the BIA has shown no inclination to get involved in the ferry issue. Agency officials have said their only role would be to review any new lease agreement between Lummi Nation and the county before it is approved. Here’s an earlier story on the BIA’s role.