A press release from Office of Rep. Marilyn Strickland.
Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) released the following statement after her amendment was included in the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies section of H.R. 4502, the appropriations minibus package, which is set to pass the House of Representatives this week. The amendment highlights the urgency of increasing funding for research into 6PPD-quinone, the toxic chemical from tires that is killing coho salmon in the Pacific Northwest. Strickland’s amendment was cosponsored by Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA-6) and Kim Schrier (WA-8).
“Salmon are a way of life in the Pacific Northwest, for all Washingtonians and especially for our Tribal nations,” said Rep. Strickland. “Our salmon are dying now, and we cannot afford to wait another two decades for the next breakthrough in this research. We need to robustly fund research into 6PPD-quinone today, and my amendment places this urgent issue at the center of the discussion for federal funding in Congress.”
“We know that toxic stormwater runoff is one of the biggest threats facing Puget Sound salmon recovery. This amendment will support critical research to understand the link between tire debris and the health of our Sound and the species that depend on it. I am grateful for Rep. Strickland’s leadership and partnership as we work to advance this urgent priority,” said Rep. Kilmer.
“Washington’s salmon populations have been decimated over the last century by dams, warmer waterways, loss of habitat, and predation. Now there is a new threat, 6PPD-quinone, which is released from breakdown of the tires we all drive on. A rainstorm can wash this chemical from roads into rivers and streams, killing all salmon in the area. This demands urgent research and action to save our already dwindling salmon populations, and that is why I enthusiastically support this amendment,” said Rep. Schrier.
Strickland’s amendment would provide funding in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science and Technology Account to fund research into 6PPD-quinone, the toxic chemical in tires and recycled rubber causing ongoing harm to coho salmon in the Pacific Northwest, and to study its effects on other fish species.
According to David Troutt, the Director of Natural Resources for the Nisqually Tribe, the Nisqually Indian Tribe, which in 1987 fished the Nisqually River 105 days a year, was reduced to 8 days a year in 2015. The continued decline in coho and other salmon populations has already had a devastating impact on these communities.
Biologists have observed coho salmon dying from mysterious symptoms in Pacific Northwest urban streams for decades. However, it is only in the past year after a 20-year and $5 million research effort that a team of scientists from the Center for Urban Waters and Washington Stormwater Center discovered the cause: a toxic chemical called 6PPD-quinone, created when a commonly used antiozonant in tires interacts with ozone. This chemical runs into local streams when it rains, entering the bloodstream of coho salmon and poisoning them.
Further research into 6PPD-quinone is needed to fully understand the chemical’s impact on other species and in other geographies. The full impact of 6PPD-quinone needs to be understood so that a long-lasting solution to the dangers it poses can be found. Representative Strickland introduced her amendment in recognition of the urgency of the problem and the need to commit to funding research at the scale needed to address it.
This amendment follows Strickland’s appearance at a House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing on July 15th. At the hearing, the Congresswoman questioned witnesses, including Washington State University professor and leader of the 6PPD-quinone research team Dr. Jenifer McIntyre and Nisqually Indian Tribe Director of Natural Resources David Troutt, on next steps scientifically and policy-wise and the impact on the region if we don’t act to address this issue.
Congresswoman Strickland has made environmental protection and restoration a priority throughout her first term in Congress. In June, the House passed the PUGET SOS Act of 2021 co-led by Congresswoman Strickland and Congressman Kilmer to enhance the federal government’s role and investment in the Puget Sound. This came shortly after Strickland and Kilmer secured a historic funding increase for Puget Sound restoration earlier that month from the House Appropriations Subcommittee. In April, Strickland led a letter to the Subcommittee, cosigned by nearly the entire Washington delegation, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio, and Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Raùl Grijalva requesting funding for the program at $50 million. Strickland also co-chairs the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, founded in 2013 by Rep. Derek Kilmer and former Rep. Denny Heck with Derek Kilmer. The Caucus focuses on recovering Puget Sound through steps like preventing pollution from urban stormwater runoff, protecting and restoring habitat, and restoring and re-opening shellfish beds.