Even though I live on the west coast, when I think about Washington State my head fills with images of Capitol Hill, Congress, and the White House. Of course, I’d much rather be thinking about salmon, oysters, and the rocky shores of the Pacific Northwest. Fortunately for me and for all of us who care about the oceans, today, the two Washingtons are colliding.
Just this week, Ocean Champions announced endorsements for a bipartisan quartet of Members of Congress from the Evergreen State. We are once again supporting Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1), Denny Heck (D-WA-10), and Derek Kilmer (D-WA-6), each of whom is running for a second term in Congress. And we’re particularly thrilled to announce the endorsement of a new ocean champion: Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA-3), who we hope will join her colleagues for a third term.
All four of these legislators understand how critical healthy oceans and coasts are to their state’s economy, as well as their constituents’ quality of life. Representatives Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck, and Derek Kilmer joined forces as part of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus—a coalition of legislators who prioritize the health of one of America’s most vital marine ecosystems.
They have seen first-hand the economic and environmental devastation climate change and ocean acidification is inflicting on Washington’s iconic oyster industry. As Washington Governor, Jay Inslee, said in the New York Times last weekend, “It used to be the canary in the coal mine. Now, it’s the oyster in the half-shell.” Washington’s ocean champions have recognized this threat and acted on it, leading the charge on legislation to authorize federal funding to combat the influx of acidification. They have also promoted polices to advance a renewable energy economy to reduce the carbon emissions, which are the root cause of this maritime scourge.
This group was fundamental to passage of Ocean Champions’ top legislative priority this year - legislation to modernize work on hypoxia and harmful algal blooms - like the bloom that has poisoned drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people in Toledo, Ohio. They’ve also taken a strong collective stand against misguided policies proposed by Ocean Enemy #1, Congressman Steve Southerland (R-FL).
We’re particularly thrilled to be supporting our newest ocean champion, Congresswoman Herrera Beutler, who has been a strong voice for the oceans in the Republican Party. Following in the footsteps of now retired GOP ocean champions like Senator Olympia from Maine, Jim Saxton From New Jersey, and Wayne Gilchrest from Maryland, we’re looking forward to helping her advance the cause of the oceans within her caucus.
If we want Washington, D.C. to pay more attention to the ocean resources that epitomize Washington state, we must support legislators like Representative DelBene, Heck, Kilmer, and Herrera Beutler. I hope you’ll join us in our efforts to ensure they maintain their seats and keep driving Congress toward a sustainable economic and environmental future for Puget Sound, and all of America’s invaluable marine resources.
For the oceans,
P.S. We’re working harder than ever to win the fight to build an ocean majority in Congress. Tell your friends to join our email list and to consider a contribution today so that they’ll know how to “vote the ocean” too!