Washington’s water, wilderness, clean air, and mountains are a national treasure. They’re also a big part of the state’s economy, attracting millions of tourists each year, including 3.8 million to Washington’s ten National Park Service sites in just the first seven months of 2011. It’s in everyone’s best interest to preserve these treasures for future generations of Washingtonians and Maria has set out to do just that. She passed legislation to expand Mt. Rainier National Park and preserve one of the country’s last inland old-growth rainforests. She also succeeded in pushing for creation of the Wild Sky Wilderness area, the first new wilderness site in Washington state in twenty years, protecting 106,577 acres of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Additionally, Maria helped create the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park at the entrance to the Columbia River, which includes Clark’s Dismal Nitch, Station Camp, and part of Cape Disappointment.
In 2005, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation, pushed for by Maria after a corporate polluter in Ruston tried to file bankruptcy, found that polluters were using bankruptcy laws to avoid their cleanup responsibilities. Maria worked to make sure polluters didn’t leave taxpayers with the bill and she’s authored legislation to ensure the loophole is closed. She’s also held the Department of Energy’s feet to the fire to deliver on it’s responsibility to clean up the Hanford toxic waste site.
With 162,000 jobs at stake along Washington state’s coast, Maria has long fought against attempts to open west coast waters to offshore drilling and increased tanker traffic. For four years, Maria fought to pass legislation to protect Washington’s waters from oil spills, and in 2010 the persistence paid off when President Obama signed those safeguards into law. As a result, oil spill response equipment, such as booms, barriers, and tugs are now stationed throughout Washington ports including along the once-neglected, busy shipping lane of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. After the tragic Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, Maria introduced legislation that would prevent any future drilling off the west coast. In July 2011 she secured a commitment from the US Coast Guard to work toward developing a stronger oil spill response plan as Canada prepares to increase oil supertanker traffic through the waters around the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Indeed, Maria has consistently battled- and won- against Republican attempts to increase tanker traffic in Puget Sound and open the pristine habitats of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.
Pacific salmon are an icon of the Northwest, an indicator of environmental quality throughout the region, and an integral part of Washington’s recreational and commercial fishing industry. Maria has pushed for funding of the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, which has restored and protected over 700,000 acres of salmon habitat since 2000.
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the future of the economy in Washington state and the country. Pacific Northwest scientists say climate change will negatively affect Washington’s agricultural products, harm salmon habitats, leave forests more vulnerable to fire and pine beetles, and hurt shellfish production among other serious detriments. Additionally, the impact of climate change on the world’s oceans could be just as threatening. The rise of carbon in the world’s oceans due to greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere could irreversibly throw off the chemical balance in the ocean, a habitat to millions of species and lifeblood of Washington’s maritime industries. In 2007 a NOAA oceanographer reported that the Pacific ocean has 10% more carbon than the Atlantic ocean. To help fight climate change, Maria passed legislation in 2009 to better monitor the impact of greenhouse gases on oceans. In 2010 she introduced the bipartisan Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal (CLEAR) Act that would replace fossil fuels with clean energy sources while providing a direct rebate to taxpayers.
As one of the most beautiful states in the union–and one of the richest in natural resources–Washington has a special interest in energy and environmental policy. And Maria has fought hard to uphold the state’s conservation tradition, while also working to bring our energy policy into the 21st century.
Maria knows Washington’s business community – because, as an executive at an innovative software company, she was part of it. And as a Senator, she’s led the way in helping businesses large and small throughout Washington grow, thrive, and create jobs.
Maria has taken a leadership role on safety and security issues, including defending our borders, strengthening our military, cracking down on gangs, and taking on drug crime in Washington communities.
Middle-class families around Washington and across the country are facing tough times–and tough decisions about balancing the family checkbook each month. Maria has fought to strengthen the economic security of Washington families and cut taxes for middle-class families.