Schoesler says labor has good reason to dive into water-quality discussion

Sen. Mark SchoeslerSen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville and Senate Republican leader, offered the following comment after organized-labor representatives stepped forward today to discuss how changes in state water-quality standards could cost jobs and hurt Washington families. The issue is known among legislators as “fish consumption” because water-quality standards are influenced by the amount of fish people in Washington consume annually.

“Our Senate majority coalition wants to encourage job creation across our state, which is why we’ve adopted reform after reform that would help Washington’s employers be more competitive and put more people back to work. Labor unions want their members to be working too, which is why some of their representatives stood up today to point out the connection between water-quality standards and jobs. They have good reason to dive into this discussion publicly, and to do so now, before the governor takes a position.

“We all want clean water. I want the fish I catch, and any fish taken from Washington waters, to be safe to eat. At the same time, people need jobs, and services that are reasonably priced. The city of Bellingham has estimated that what is now a 35-dollar monthly sewer bill could exceed 200 dollars a month depending on how the water-purity standards change. It isn’t difficult to understand how devastating an increase like that would be to the families of union members and non-union members alike.

“The union representatives who spoke out today recognize, as our coalition does, that any changes in the water-quality standards need to be levelheaded, attainable and affordable. They raised valid questions; the question now is whether Governor Inslee and his people at the Department of Ecology will seek changes to suit certain political forces or propose levels that make sense for our state as a whole.”