Gary Chandler, AWB's director of government affairs, held a panel discussion with Maia D. Bellon, director of the Washington state Department of Ecology, and Brian Bonlender, director of the state's Department of Commerce.
Both directors said Gov. Jay Inslee has made it clear that jobs and working cooperatively with the business community are priorities.
“I will tell you that he, in no uncertain terms, has told me that I must partner with you and your community,” Bellon said.
Bellon, appointed in February as director of the Department of Ecology, said although she is an attorney and enjoys the courtroom, she always prefers to broker agreements that help everyone understand one another’s concerns and move forward rather than resorting to litigation. Not everyone will get everything they want, she said, but sometimes that’s the best outcome possible.
She said one of the biggest worries she had when offered the director position, one that kept her up at night and almost prevented her from accepting the post, is the issue of modifying the state’s longstanding water quality standards. Bellon said the federal Environmental Protection Agency had given her a deadline of this Christmas, but that she pushed for more time to hold a full public process. As a result, the state now hopes to have a new rule in place by the end of 2014. AWB has been working with other member companies on that rule, which stands to affect not only businesses but every municipal water system in the state.