Welcome to Puget Sound, Mr. President — environmental work in progress
President Obama's visit to the Boeing plant in Everett shows off part of the regional story and pride in building the world's best airplanes. Our environmental treasures, and the work to protect them, also must be revealed.
Seattle Times editorial columnist
Mr. President, welcome to Washington, Puget Sound and Everett. Your visit to Boeing takes in a special point of pride for the region and the national economy.
All those skilled jobs and the wages and benefits that come with producing the world's best airplanes are not taken lightly by anyone.
The opportunity to manufacture the next generation of jets and read about the international airlines eager to snap up those lovely exports is a delight never diminished by repetition.
Not taking anything for granted is part of the regional DNA, and that includes the beauty and health of the rich landscapes and natural resources that surrounds us.
Looking west of Everett, a short ferry ride away, is Whidbey Island, a case in point. Saturday before last, more than 500 people gathered at South Whidbey High School to promote environmental stewardship on their island home.
Sound Waters 2012 was the 17th annual gathering hosted by Beach Watchers, a part of Washington State University's Island County Extension Program.
Beach Watchers runs a year-round schedule of education, training and volunteer work to make island and mainland residents better neighbors with the Sound.
This year, Sound Waters, a one-day university, featured 64 classes and 80 presenters.
Classes are taught by volunteers, including graduate students and professors from WSU, Western Washington University and the University of Washington, with experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other government agencies.
Certified smart people covered topics from managing septic systems to gardening for biodiversity and clean water. Classes also covered island geology, climate change and the menace of ocean acidification.
Sound Waters draws huge crowds, even on the rare dry, sunny Saturday.
WSU vigorously lives up to its land-grant charter with extension programs in counties across Washington. The school has a deep talent pool. Indeed, the university wants to offer engineering degrees in the Everett area to help Boeing nurture and train the next generation of skilled employees. Curiously, the school is getting resistance. You might ask about that.
The desire to do right by our environment powers a keen interest in the health of Puget Sound and the coherent protection of the broader reaches of the waterway now called the Salish Sea that is shared with Canada.
Even farther afield, but of local concern, is your administration's curious support for drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off Alaska's north coast. After the wretched experience in the balmy Gulf and reticence over more drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific for lack of supporting "infrastructure," a green light in the Arctic Ocean would be odd indeed.
A basic investment that makes sense for the Arctic is new icebreakers for the U.S. Coast Guard. Melting ice is exposing new problems and creating a need to defend U.S. interests.
The Coast Guard says it needs three heavy-duty icebreakers. They are likely a better investment of scarce resources than having 11 aircraft carriers.
Please note, Mr. President, Everett was the proud home of the USS Abraham Lincoln for 15 years. The crew of 3,000 and their families were better known as neighbors. As the carrier steams through the Strait of Hormuz, it is more than a current event.
Everett is scheduled to be the homeport for three Navy destroyers. Know they will be warmly received.
Mr. President, your visit is a celebration of manufacturing and creativity. In that, well, spirit, please take home a sampling of Washington wines to share with the first lady. The state's nearly 750 wineries and 350 growers touch 19,000 jobs from the vineyard to retail.
Now, sir, if you had a slice of Marionberry pie from Whidbey Pies, the trip would be gloriously complete.
Lance Dickie's column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His email address is email@example.com