Promoting Trade Doesn’t Have To Sacrifice Oil-Spill Prevention

Editorials & Opinion: Saturday, March 01, 1997

Letters To The Editor

Office Of Marine Safety —

There have been a series of proposals to un-merge the Department of Trade from the Department of Community Development by a number of trade and economic development officials, including consideration by Gov. Locke himself. The rational behind dividing up the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, which was merged by Gov. Lowry in his efforts to streamline government, is to allow the state to provide more focus on trade promotion.

Unfortunately, the maritime interests that would benefit from the state’s enhanced abilities to promote trade with a small agency’s focused attention are calling for the merger of the Office of Marine Safety, which runs the state’s oil-spill prevention program, into the much larger Department of Ecology. While it seems reasonable for a trade-dependent state like ours to want to put focused attention on trade promotion, the biologically and culturally rich waters plied by the merchant fleet also need the benefit of focused attention. This is especially true as the risks of oil spills grows with the expansion of trade.

However, there needs to be a proactive piece of legislation passed this session to remove the existing sunset clause on the OMS. Unfortunately, the Republican-controlled Legislature will only allow a hearing on HB 2096, sponsored by Rep. Gary Chandler, who chairs the Agriculture and Ecology Committee, which calls for a full-scale merger of OMS into DOE. This is despite the fact that Rep. Mike Cooper has introduced HB 2005, which preserves an independent OMS and enjoys bipartisan support.

Perhaps of greatest disappointment is the lack of leadership by Gov. Locke’s office on this issue. It is inexcusable for a Democrat to be elected, in part, on his commitment to accommodate growth in our region, and then turn a blind eye on the very agency which can keep his trade policies from compromising our state’s rich marine heritage. Perhaps if enough people express interest in this issue it will make it on the governor’s radar screen before we have an accident. Fred Felleman Seattle

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

~ by fredfelleman on March 1, 1997.

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