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Spin Control: Almost Everything Gets a
Special Spot on the Calendar. How About Orcas?

by Jim Camden
Spokesman-Review, June 24, 2018

The orcas definitely could use some help from Congress

A young resident killer whale chases a chinook salmon near Vancouver Island. (Photograph by John Durban/NOAA In the summertime, it's sometimes hard to tell what day it is, let alone week or month.

This is not to suggest people seem to being losing track of whether it is Wednesday or Thursday, June or July. It's just that it's getting harder and harder to keep up with all the designated days, weeks or months set aside to honor, remember or raise awareness about different causes, and fit them into an overfull calendar. For example, last Thursday was National Asking Saves Kids Day, which falls during National Gun Violence Awareness Month, as well as being the summer solstice and June 21.

Then there are the ones that get proposed with fanfare, but never really get done.

On Thursday an email announced that two of Washington's esteemed members of Congress, Democratic Reps. Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer, had introduced a resolution to declare a National Orca Protection Month.

The iconic marine mammals in Puget Sound are much in need of protection, with the Southern Resident orcas down to 73, the lowest level in decades. The Legislature took a swing at saving orcas earlier this year, with bills to increase patrols to protect the critters, particularly the young ones, during whale-watching season. But they had to settle for setting aside $1.5 million for recovery efforts, with some extra money to enforce restrictions on boat traffic around them, boost hatchery production of the fish they eat and set aside money for an "action plan" for whale recovery.

Gov. Jay Inslee wiped that money out with his veto pen, arguing that it did not "fully cover the costs of important work needed to begin the recovery of this iconic species." But Inslee told the Department of Fish and Wildlife to use $650,000 to put up some fish screens, conduct public outreach and support a killer whale recovery task force.

After all, nothing says "we really, really care" like a task force.

So the orcas definitely could use some help from Congress, since the state's commitment to one of its most recognizable critters could be seen as somewhat lacking. One might say that setting aside a special month for orcas is the least that Congress could do.

But one would be wrong. It can, and almost certainly will, do less. Heck and Kilmer introduced the resolution Friday to name June as National Orca Protection Month. So more than two-thirds of the month was gone before the ink on the resolution was dry. Plus the measure has to go to a committee before it can get a House vote.

Orcas can hold their breath a relatively long time, but not long enough to see any help from the resolution. Heck and Kilmer introduced a similar resolution last year to declare June 2017 National Orca Protection Month. It went to the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, which has been keeping kind of busy trying to figure out whether the Deep State has infested the FBI, the Russians rigged the 2016 election and the head of the EPA has any scruples.

The 2017 resolution sank without a trace.

Jim Camden
Spin Control: Almost Everything Gets a Special Spot on the Calendar. How About Orcas?
Spokesman-Review, June 24, 2018

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