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February 9, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Norm Dicks's use of federal money to the Puget Sound Partnership

Don’t ignore more than 40 years of commitment

Editor, The Times:

The The Seattle Times article “Dicks channeled federal money to Puget Sound project his son ran,” [Local news,], was part of a story on congressional earmarks from The Washington Post. The story suggests that Rep. Norm Dicks’ support for protecting Puget Sound was motivated by family and self interest. That is simply wrong.

Dicks did not become a supporter of Puget Sound recovery because his son became the executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. The truth is Dicks has been an ardent champion for Puget Sound before David Dicks was born.

Beginning in 1968, Dicks served on the staff of Sen. Warren G. Magnuson, who led many efforts to protect the Pacific Northwest’s environment. He worked on a key amendment to the Marine Mammal Protection Act that banned oil supertankers from Puget Sound.

In Congress since 1976, Dicks has made continued protection of Puget Sound a major focus. He supported funding to study contamination in Puget Sound, including Tacoma’s Commencement Bay. That led to his co-sponsoring the original Superfund legislation in 1980, and he worked with the Environmental Protection Agency to direct clean up funds to Superfund “hot spots.”

Dicks was also successful in including Puget Sound as one of the original estuaries designated in the National Estuary Program in 1987.

When Dicks became chairman of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee in 2007, he was able to increase funding for most of the nation’s great waterways — including the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes, and Puget Sound.

To suggest that Dicks came late to his concern for Puget Sound or that he took advantage of his position in Congress is to ignore over 40 years of commitment and does a great disservice to an exemplary public servant.

— William D. Ruckelshaus, former chairman of the Leadership Council of the Puget Sound Partnership, Seattle

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