Puget Sound recovery continues despite unknowns with Trump presidency

KING 5's Alison Morrow reports.

As environmental activist groups react to a Donald Trump presidency, at least one is hopes attention returns to local need.

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance leads cleanup work after July 4th fireworks pollute Lake Union. They're also suing BNSF railway over coal contamination – all of which they did before Tuesday's election and will continue long after.

"Clean water is a basic human right. We know the people of Washington value clean water and a healthy Puget Sound. We're going to hold the federal government accountable to that," said Executive Director Chris Wilke.

With any change in presidential leadership, their work faces the possibility of change too, especially as it relates to the federal Clean Water Act.

"So, we'll be closely watching that. We'll be looking for signals of changes in the way that environmental laws are administered. We'll be watching very closely," Wilke said.

In mid-October, lawmakers announced nearly $600 million in federal funding for Puget Sound recovery and fish habitat restoration. But it all depends on congressional approval. When KING 5 asked Congressman Denny Heck about the funding's viability under a Trump presidency, he laughed. Heck expressed confidence that Trump would never win, offering no real contingency plan.

And yet, those closest to recovery efforts are hopeful the money will materialize.

"It's really important people are willing to speak up and lend their voice to this process and let their leaders know what they care about," Wilke said.

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance regularly works in bipartisan ways to protect the Sound. Wilke is calling for action in turn the tide in the Pacific Northwest, even if voters think Washington D.C. is underwater.

"And that can be really disheartening for people, but they also say, 'All politics is local.' People can do a lot to make a difference. They can pitch in. They can volunteer. They can stand up for human rights. They can stand up for a clean environment. They can stand up for the public right to clean water,” Wilke said. “We need people's voices more than ever to carry those messages forward.”

Copyright 2016 KING


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