Letters to the Editor | Jan. 25 edition

Readers write in about environmental health, and the 2024 election.


Research needed to thoughtfully control invasive knotweed

Vashon Nature Center’s grant to research salmon, bug, and watershed health is an opportunity to discuss chemical control of invasive plants that threaten salmon habitat. Streamside knotweed in particular “can significantly lower the biomass (up to 60%) of riparian macroinvertebrates”. Meaning, when knotweed crowds out native plants, there are fewer bugs to feed salmon fingerlings.

With roots 8-feet deep and thousands of nodes, knotweed can resprout for decades when manually pruned or covered with weed cloth. It can’t be dug out without eroding streambanks and smothering salmon nests. Erosion emulsifies smelter pollution — potentially into groundwater but mainly into stormwater that runs off into Puget Sound. Toxins then bioaccumulate up the food chain in salmon, orcas, and people who eat salmon.

Controlling knotweed requires “best practice” oversight from King County, Depts. of Ecology, Agriculture, and Fish & Wildlife. The past method was to inject glyphosate into knotweed, but crews are now directed to spray imazapyr, a “practically non-toxic” herbicide. The downside is that imazapyr is more mobile than glyphosate during rain events.

If we do nothing, knotweed will spread and salmon will suffer. And if we neglect acres of ivy, blackberry, laurel and holly, invasives will suppress natural regeneration of native forests necessary for clean watersheds. We can’t manually or mechanically uproot all invasives – we may do more damage than good. Equipment’s engine exhaust and erosion of arsenic are both worse than glyphosate according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The website, www.seedrain.org, offers organic control methods plus techniques to minimize herbicide when needed. It also explains the science behind the WHO report. Unfortunately, fear sells in our media, so science is often cherry-picked and portrayed misleadingly.

My plea to the locally trusted Nature Center is this: scrutinize the “eco-logic” of tradeoffs and the risks of herbicide compared to everyday products. Are certain chemicals less risk to groundwater than disturbance of soil pollutants? What are the risks of invasive neglect, and what practices will best preserve human and environmental health? We have to get this right.

Steve Richmond


Who pays the price of carbon auctions?

Dear Senator Joe Nguyen:

The other day I asked my 9th grade granddaughter what she thought would happen if the state of Washington did something that cost the oil companies fifty cents a gallon. Without hesitation, she said they would add it to the cost of what they sold. Why is it so difficult for you politicians to understand that basic concept?

Steve Snider from Snider Energy told the committee hearing that they are paying a fifty-cent surcharge for the cost of fuel because of the Climate Commitment Act. Did you legislators and our illustrious governor actually think the energy companies would just gladly pay the cost of your carbon auctions and not pass it on to us consumers?

Now you have your panties in a bunch and think you need to analyze the oil companies’ books to see why they are charging us more for fuel than other states around us. That is just what we need, another state agency with more well-paid state employees that have to hire outside experts to tell them what the oil company numbers mean. Let’s just keep this state bureaucracy growing, no matter what it costs us taxpayers.

You and your fellow members of our state legislature have failed the state’s taxpayers so miserably the last couple of years with your police pursuit laws, the totally inept long-term healthcare plan and many other things that came out of your last session. If you are going to pass something like the long Climate Commitment Act, please have the guts to tell us that it is going to cost us fifty cents a gallon more for fuel. One of the state’s own agency’s estimate was a forty-six cent a gallon increase, yet our governor told us two to three cents maybe.

When you brag about the billion dollars you raised with your auction, you should be thanking us fuel consumers. We paid it.

Ed Palmer


Get involved with Indivisible Vashon

I appreciated Harry Gerecke’s Letter to The Editor in last week’s issue of The Beachcomber on the importance of ensuring that Trump not win a second term. In my view, denying MAGA Republicans control of the U.S. House and keeping the U.S. Senate out of the hands of these extremists are also critical goals this election year.

For those readers who agree but are wondering what they might be able to do to help, I’d like to offer a suggestion: Indivisible Vashon maintains a Get Out the Vote resource where you can find opportunities to support candidates in the critical battleground states. Options include phone banking, texting, letter/postcard writing, voter registration, and donating. Just visit www.indivisiblevashon.org, and click the link at the top of the page.

Noah Roselander