Let’s try this again: Washington state Senate passes a bill limiting the use of BPA

Mothers take great care to provide the best for their children, choosing nutritious formula and food for their young. So why is a chemical that may hinder a child’s development allowed in baby bottles and sippy cups?

That was the sentiment behind a 36-9 vote in the Washington state Senate today for a bill (SB 6248) to ban bisphenol A, or BPA, from food and drink containers for young children. Similar legislation passed the House earlier this week 95-1, but that bill (HB 1180) went further by also banning the chemical in bottles containing sports drinks such as Gatorade.

BPA is widely used in shatterproof plastic containers for food and drinks, as well as a plastic lining in cans for food and soda. Studies have shown that when these containers become hot, whether through microwaving or by pouring hot liquid into them, BPA can seep into the food or drink. This is also occurs when the plastics get scratched over time.

Federal safety regulators have expressed concern about the harmful effects the chemical could have on fetuses and young children’s brains, reproductive systems, pituitary glands, and behavior. The chemical has also been linked to a variety of cancers, diabetes, and obesity.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration “believes there are great causes for concern, especially among the youngest,” said Rep.

Thousands of lost crab pots in Puget Sound harm marine wildlife

Sitting on the floor of Puget Sound are thousands of pounds of derelict fishing gear. Lost fishing gear in a large body of water doesn’t really sound like a big deal at first, but when looked at a bit more closely the effects can be shocking.

“Derelict fishing gear in Puget Sound is a problem. There is an estimated – maybe – 15,000 crab pots that have been lost in the last 5 years in Puget Sound,”  Rep. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, told the Agriculture and Natural Resources committee earlier this week, in support of House Bill 2593.

If passed, the measure would direct the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to solicit a $2 donation every time a recreational fishing license is purchased. The money would go into a grant program that would fund organizations to remove derelict shellfish pots.

In addition to being essentially garbage at the bottom of Puget Sound, derelict crap pots have an enormous impact on the marine ecosystem. Lost crab pots continue to catch and kill crabs long after the bait is gone, as well as other marine life, for up to two years. Crab larvae is also a large portion of Chinook salmon diet in certain areas of Puget Sound.

“The average lost crab pot will catch 30 crabs in a year and will kill 21 of those crabs,” Ginny Broadhurst of the Northwest Straights Commission told the committee. “That amounts to about 256,000 crabs that are wasted annually.”

The Northwest Straights Commission has received $4.6 million in stimulus money to retrieve derelict fishing gear in Puget Sound.

Towns fighting back against gang violence run into civil liberties opposition

Are civil liberties at risk if we implement laws that might bring relief to communities terrorized by out-of-control gangs?

A delegation of Yakima Valley residents appear willing to put those civil liberties on the line, telling lawmakers that they simply can’t take it anymore.

One high school senior told members of the House Judiciary Committee that she and her siblings have been forced to crawl around on the floor of their home to avoid gunshots aimed at a neighboring house, Beth Leah Ward reports in the Yakima Herald online.
“I don’t think it’s fair that I have to be afraid for my little brother and sister,” Anna Aburto, a senior at Davis High School, told the House Judiciary Committee. “I’m afraid to go out in my neighborhood.”
I recently wrote about this problem in Outlook, a small town in rural Yakima County, where one six-block area is home to as many as 150 gang members, where one in every five residents is said to be in a gang. The unincorporated town is only sporadically patrolled by Yakima County Sheriffs’ deputies, and has been plagued by shootings and assaults. There are few community resources for dealing with kids lured by gangs.

At least eight of two dozen homicides in Yakima County last year have been linked to gangs.