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Is Spokane County very dependent on exporting its products?
That's a subjective call. Today's story on Sen. Maria Cantwell's (D-Wash) visit to Spokane to boost support for reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, raised the question of how many jobs depend on exports.
The numbers are a bit slippery. As Stan Key of Greater Spokane Inc. noted during Cantwell's visit, the actual totals on exports are registered at the port of departure. For many Spokane firms, that means their numbers fall into those seen for Seattle, Tacoma and Portland.
Key said he did a quick general survey of Spokane County and found firms that rely on exports employ more than 2,700 people.
The EX-IM bank site has a handy statistical sorter to look at the total benefits extended in each state's congressional district.
For Eastern Washington, in 2011, for instance, you'd find the following numbers: eight companies received some form of EX-IM help, either through contract assistance or insurance on payments.
The top three countries that bought products from Eastern Washington, in 2011, were: Mexico, the Phillipines, South Korea.
Also listed there is the top dog among companies here taking advantage of EX-IM offers: It's Commercial Creamery Co., based in Spokane. They're using exports to send powdered milk and cheese powder to overseas buyers.
CONSERVATION — Two Washington lawmakers led a bipartisan group of 131 sponsors to introduce legislation Thursday to assure an administrative rule protecting 58.5 million acres of wild roadless areas on America's public lands
Led by Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Jay Inslee of Washington, a group of sponsored by 20 Senate and 111 bipartisan House co-sponsors introduced the legislation to bolster the recent Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule.
The Roadless Area Conservation Act will confirm long-term protections against damaging commercial logging and road-building for vulnerable wildlands on 30 percent of the 193-million-acre National Forest System, shielding roadless areas from political tides and whims of future administrations.
Roadless areas provide many benefits to Americans and wildlife: They safeguard the source of drinking water of 60 million Americans; they contain some of the most important fish and wildlife habitat in National Forests; and they provide abundant opportunities for quality outdoor recreation such as hunting, fishing, and backpacking, supporting an industry that contributes an estimated $730 billion to the U.S. economy each year.
National forests cover 9.2 million acres of Washington – about one-fifth of the state’s total land mass. There are two million acres of inventoried roadless areas in the Evergreen State, including sites like Kettle River Range, Dark Divide and Lena Lake.
Sen. Cantwell's office prepared this report highlighting the economic, environmental and societal benefits that roadless areas provide.
SALMON FISHING — Citing concerns about the effect the Pebble Mine in Alaska could have on wild salmon,Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA, told the Seattle Times she plans to ask the Environmental Protection Agency to consider using the Clean Water Act to stop the mine on Bristol Bay.
But Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young has already introduced a bill that would strip the EPA of the authority to stop the project.
The issue involves a high-stakes battle that pits gold and copper against the most productive salmon fisheries in the world.
Since stellar staffer John Stucke was on vacation this week, we had to rely on Tom Sowa to cover the recent visit by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., talking about a newly created federal crop support program specifically for camelina, under an effort called BCAP (biomass crop assistance program) .
This BCAP version invites Eastern Washington farmers to sign up to grow camelina, a promising biocrop for producing biodiesel and aviation fuel.
We posted the story on our Spokesman.com Facebook page, and we found a number of concerned residents who feel this “farm to fuels” effort can be potentially bad, harmful or disruptive to normal agriculture and food production.
We don't see it that way. Camelina is not ever going to displace other serious food crops in the land. And it is unlike other designer crops, in that it doesn't need to be bio-engineered to improve yields.
We just want folks to look at some other resources that explain in better detail than our story what the feds are up to, pushing camelina into the food-fuel stream.
Here are the basic set of informational links on the program: