Inside Opinion

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Tag: Environmental Protection Agency


Don’t threaten salmon habitat with huge Alaska mine

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Two foreign companies want to open an immense gold and copper mine in Alaska that would create 2,500 construction jobs and generate up to $180 million annually in taxes and royalties.

That’s great — for Alaska. But the Pebble Mine could harm West Coast salmon fisheries by threatening key Bristol Bay habitat. And that’s if everything goes right with the mine. If something were to go wrong, the effects would be devastating to a $500 million industry that provides full- and part-time jobs for more than 14,000 workers in commercial and native

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South Sound faces a reckoning over wood-burning

Wood smoke is a major air pollutant in the South Sound. (Staff file photo)

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

We do love our wood fires in the South Sound.

We savor the crackling sound and romantic atmosphere they create in our fireplaces. We enjoy the camraderie of gathering around an outdoor fire pit on a chilly evening. And we really like how burning wood can take the chill off the house on a cold night without running up the utility bill.

But that love affair is getting us a bad reputation. The unusually high number of people who burn wood – for whatever reason – is a big reason the Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia metropolitan region ranks 18th on the American Lung Association’s list of U.S. communities with the highest fine-particle pollution, which can pose a serious health threat to people with asthma and heart conditions.

It’s also why the greater Tacoma-Pierce County area is the state’s only “nonattainment area” – which means it persistently exceeds federal Environmental Protection Agency air standards. And unlike the lung association’s ranking, the EPA’s formal designation comes with consequences.

It means that state and federal regulators will be more insistent that the community take steps to improve air quality. When the biggest, controllable culprit is wood smoke, it’s not that hard to figure out what’s going to happen: Rules are likely to be tightened over who can burn, when they can burn and how they can burn. Read more »