The Pacific Northwest is one of the most environmentally diverse areas of the United States. From Puget Sound to the millions of acres of untouched forest, it is home to rich wildlife habitat and unique ecosystems. Those living in the Pacific Northwest support strong environmental safeguards and remain among the most environmentally conscious populations in the country. Throughout his service in the Washington State Legislature and as a representative of Washington State in the U.S. Congress, Jim has been an ardent and unwavering supporter of conservation and strong environmental protections.
In 2010, the crew of the Ocean Watch sailed from Seattle and circumnavigated North and South America. This feat was especially remarkable because Ocean Watch sailed completely through the Northwest Passage – a passage normally blocked by severe weather and thick ice. Climate change has made passage possible – another persuasive indication that global warming is having a significant impact on our environment.
Jim knows that we must end our dependence on fossil fuels. He introduced carbon tax legislation to gradually increase taxes on greenhouse gas-emitting substances. This legislation received broad support in the past Congress from both environmentalists and the oil and gas industry, who viewed it as a viable option for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
Salmon and steelhead populations have major economic, environmental, and cultural significance to the Pacific Northwest. Generations of fishermen have relied on salmon as an integral part of their communities along the west coast. However, since the construction of four federal dams on the lower Snake River in Washington State, certain salmon species have become extinct, and others continue to see drastic declines in numbers. Today, thirteen salmon and steelhead species in the Columbia and Snake River Basins are listed for protection under the “Endangered Species Act.”
If we do not change current trends, we stand to lose this valuable resource forever, which is why Jim has introduced the bipartisan “Salmon Solutions and Planning Act.” The federal government and ratepayers in the Pacific Northwest have spent more than $10 billion in salmon recovery efforts on the Columbia and Snake River Basins. These efforts, though well-intentioned, have done little to help salmon populations recover. Jim’s legislation commissions studies that will focus efforts so that all factors are taken into account when considering how to best help the salmon population grow. It is critical that our salmon recovery efforts are grounded in the very best available science so that they are cost-effective and successful.
Capital Construction Funds
The Pacific Northwest has been home to some of the most successful catch share programs in the country. These programs allow fishermen to share among themselves specific amounts of fish that each boat can catch. In conjunction with the federal government, these voluntary agreements ensure that our fisheries are not over-fished and continue to provide a sustainable source of fish well into the future.
Jim has introduced bipartisan legislation that would help fishermen who wish to leave the fishing industry but have put away savings in funds that grow tax-free to be used for the purchase of new boats and maintenance. Rather than building more boats, or wasting resources renovating boats that are not needed, the legislation would allow fishermen who wish to retire to withdraw these funds without penalty, and ensure the best use of resources.