West Coast
The Seattle Times

Danny Westneat: Politics has science on the run — and not just in the other Washington

Remember the too-crazy-to-be-true plan to spray pesticides on oyster beds out on the Washington coast? It’s back. And this time, it doesn’t want to answer any pesky scientific questions.

New bipartisan bills in the state Legislature in Olympia not only order full speed ahead for the chemical spraying, by May of this year. They also would exempt the spraying from environmental review entirely.

“Well that’s one way to get approval — just override any scientific objections and say ‘do it,’” says Ross Barkhurst, who lives on Willapa Bay, where the spraying is proposed. “These bills are proof they know it won’t stand up to scientific scrutiny.”

The issue, which first came up back in 2015, is that burrowing shrimp are loosening the intertidal soil, turning it, in spots, into goo. Oysters then sink and suffocate. So the industry, which is huge in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor, wants to cull the native shrimp by immobilizing them with imidacloprid, a neurotoxin used in farm insecticides.

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