Letters to the Editor

Puget Sound, Canadians and environmental rhetoric | Federal Way letters

Chris Carrel and his fellow environmental alarmists need to do some basic math and logical analysis ("Car washing: Talkin' dirty," Aug. 5).

It's hard to believe that environmentalists can talk with a straight face and lecture us about the horrors of washing our cars in light of the massive raw dumping of every imaginable pollutant just to our north into Puget Sound. Per a report published by the Sierra Legal Defense Fund, of the 22 cities documented in the report, eight (Victoria, Vancouver, Montreal, Saint John, Halifax, Charlottetown, St. John's and Dawson City) continue to dump some or all of their sewage, either raw and untreated or with primary treatment only, directly into the Sound. Victoria alone dumps more than 9 billion gallons of untreated sewage into the Sound each year. That's over 24 million gallons a day. If the average at-home car wash uses 5 gallons of water, it would require 4.8 million cars in Puget Sound to be washed in a single day to equal that same volume for just one of the cities cited.

If I had a choice, I'd pick the water from my car wash over what our PR savvy hollow green Canadian friends do to the Sound every single day. Victoria's sewage outfalls discharged 9,920 metric tons of oil and grease, 9 metric tons of copper, and 2.5 metric tons of cyanide as well as lead, mercury and silver. Meanwhile, we are led to believe that 190 gallons of gas and oil, 14 pounds of dissolved copper and 400 pounds of nitrogen is reason to spend what must be millions of dollars on a media blitz and mitigation. If there ever were a better example of pure environmental rhetoric and hyperbole, this would be it. 14 pounds of copper is 0.07 percent of what one single city cited in the report dumps into our water. That's an amount 1,417 times larger that what Chris Carrel cites as our guilty burden. The comparative analysis for petroleum is even more insane.

The most telling point in these types of campaigns is that this preposterous imbalance is never pointed out. It's literally and figuratively the largest dirty little secret in the environment community. Wouldn't all this money that spent making us the guilty party be better spent uniting people in applying pressure to our "waterfront neighbors" to stop what ends up on our shore? Please don't tell us that we have to lead by example. Canada is no Third World nation, and while we spend billions putting tertiary treatment in every community, they do nothing and have zero commitment to actually do anything. It's like worrying about the CO2 from a candle while standing next to a 1,000-MW coal-powered power plant. A new term needs to be coined for this type of rhetoric: Environmental Theater.

Scott Lee, Federal Way

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