Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Western Processing Celebration
March 15, 2000
TURNING THE BATTLESHIP AROUND
Thanks, Kirk, for that kind introduction. It's good to see you all here today.
I love this state. As a child, I loved fishing the streams with my brother, without ever considering it might not be safe. I loved hiking through the forests up into the mountain air. I loved it as a boy, and I love it today. Forests, mountains, water. Our earth. It's why I love this state. And the work you all have done here these last seventeen years helps ensure that my own children-and your children-will breathe clean air from trees grown in pure soil and fish clean stream.
So thank you. What you've done here can be used as a model as we look at other sites. With leadership, partnership, cooperation between businesses and government…you got in and got the job done.
We've learned a heck of a lot here. In 1983, this site was a wasteland-a seemingly insurmountable challenge. The fish were all gone. The stream was full of muck. It was ugly. It was like one of those scary movies about the future…Where earth is trashed and humans living on Mars. But you took the battleship and turned it around.
Right behind you is Mill Creek. There are salmon swimming there now. The water's clean again. The habitat is restored. And this land is once again useable. And you did it.
But it took 17 years and more than a 120 million dollars to clean up this one site. That teaches us that we must do everything in our power to reduce the use of hazardous products…Let's turn that ship all the way around…until we're looking at a Washington that doesn't need to clean up hazardous waste because we don't produce hazardous waste.
200 businesses stepped up to the plate here and said, "We are partly responsible for what happened here." Then you stuck together and stuck it out…putting up the money, the time, the cooperation…to get this site cleaned up. Imagine the impact if we were to put that much energy into prevention…instead of waiting for clean-up. What if we all stepped up and said, "We are partly responsible for keeping this earth healthy." Imagine what we could do.
We could prove that a healthy environment and a healthy economy go hand in hand-that families and businesses can thrive alongside a thriving environment.
The amount of work you've done to clean this site proves how crucial it is for us to take the preventative approach to all environmental issues. That's why I'm fighting to prevent oil spills in the Puget Sound, for safer pipelines, and for clean air. That's why I'm going to Siemen's Solar Plant on Friday to recommit myself and our state to clean energy…to the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA). That's why Martha Choe-the woman I've tasked with planning our economic development-is preparing initiatives for to make efficient energy use a priority. Because we want economic development that is sustainable.
We didn't used to have a choice. Fossil fuels, hazardous materials…they were our only options. And we didn't understand the consequences. But now we understand the consequences…and we have choices…and I'm so pleased that we are working together and making the right choices.
Cleaning up this site was a huge step.
I applaud your efforts here. The leadership and partnership you've exhibited sets an example for all of us. So let's continue to work together to turn this battleship around…so that every day the sun shines, we can see every ridge on Mt. Rainier…so that every creek teams with salmon…so that our water and are soil are pure…so that every part of Washington will always be a great place to live, to work, and to raise a family. Thank you again for everything you've done. It's a proud day for me to be governor of this state.
Thank you very much.