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Dicks stresses environmental responsibility

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Belfair) expressed renewed support for environmental issues in a Kitsap County appearance last week, stressing the importance of protecting and rehabilitating local waterways.

“The hardest part is convincing people there is a problem,” Dicks said. “Maybe we need to show them videos of fish dying and gasping for air. If birds were dying, falling out of the sky, people would go crazy. It affects us all.”

Dicks was addressing a meeting of the Kitsap County Homebuilders last week at the Oyster Bay Inn in Bremerton.

“New construction has to be done in a way that is environmentally acceptable so we don’t have runoff into the rivers and the Sound,” he said.

Dicks cited the related goals of cleaning the water and building up the salmon population represents “an emergency situation” that will be quite costly.

As a comparison, he said it took $140 million to clean up Lake Washington.

“Maybe we will need to go to (Microsoft Chairman Bill) Gates and have him write the big check to protect his playground,” Dicks said.

Dicks discussed several current projects, saying that despite the congressional limitation of earmarks (unrelated additions to bills originating from individual districts) the district has benefited from this practice.

“We have done a lot of good from earmarks,” Dicks said. “They have helped to make this a better place. We have added transparency, as any representative has to have their name on an earmark and affirm they do not have a personal interest.”

Dicks defended the Bremerton tunnel construction, admitting it’s controversial but like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and Tacoma Spur, it “had to be done.”

“The housing industry has slowed from a few years ago,” he said. “We no longer have the irrational exuberance of 2002. But housing is still a great investment. It provides one of the foundations of the economy, and the economy is good.”

Dicks lauded the revitalization of downtown Bremerton, saying it is helping to restore the excitement in the town that he remembers from his own childhood.

Dicks discussed membrane technology, developed by the Karcher Creek Sewer District, that decentralizes sewage processing. Use of this is currently restricted to urban growth areas by county statutes. Dicks may get involved, in his role as a fixer.

“Call me up and see if we can schedule a meeting between everyone,” he said. “Maybe we can get it all straightened out.”

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