Regional News Oct. 16

WA Regional News 4.500Environmentalists Sue EPA Over Ocean Acidification
An environmental group is suing the EPA for the second time in four years over ocean acidification and the threat to sea life. The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit in federal court in Seattle on Wednesday saying the EPA is not doing enough to protect oysters that are dying in waters off the states of Oregon and Washington.

The previous lawsuit filed in 2009 was settled out of court in 2010 after the EPA agreed that ocean acidification should be addressed through the federal Clean Water Act. A spokeswoman for the Center for Biological Diversity says scientific research since that decision has broadened understanding about the impact of ocean acidification. And the Tucson-based environmental group doesn't think the EPA is doing enough to protect the ocean ecosystem.


Haggen Closing 3 Grocery Stores In Washington
The Haggen grocery chain is closing three more stores in Washington. The Bellingham company announced Wednesday it's closing its TOP Food & Drug stores in Kent, Auburn and Yakima. KOMO reports nearly 150 employees will be affected as the stores close within three months. Haggen says it's working with unions to try to place the workers at other stores. Earlier this year Haggen announced plans to close TOP stores in Tacoma, Lacey, Federal Way, Bellevue and Shoreline. The company says the closures are part of a long-term plan to improve competitiveness. Haggen currently operates more than 20 stores in Washington and Oregon under the Haggen Northwest Fresh and TOP Food & Drug names.


WA AG Sues Food Industry Group Over I-522
Washington's attorney general has filed a lawsuit accusing a food industry group of violating state campaign finance laws. The office of Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a filing Wednesday that the Grocery Manufacturers Association improperly collected and spent more than $7 million while shielding the identities of contributors. The food industry has been working to defeat Initiative 522 that would require labeling on genetically modified foods.

Much of the money used in the campaign to oppose I-522 has come from the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Ferguson says the association improperly established a special account that would be used to oppose the initiative when the organization should have formed a separate political committee that would require increased disclosure. Voters will decide on I-522 next month.


Enrollment Up At Some WA State Public Colleges
Despite a downward demographic shift in the number of kids graduating from high school, enrollment is up at three of Washington's six public universities this fall. The University of Washington, Western Washington University and Eastern Washington University are all reporting increases in students. UW and Western also have their largest freshman classes ever. Washington State University, Central Washington University and the Evergreen State College are reporting small decreases in fall enrollment.

UW, Western and Eastern are reporting student number increases of about 900, 100 and 200 respectively. WSU, Central and Evergreen have seen decreases of about 100, 200 and 90. So overall, about 800 more kids are studying at Washington universities this fall than in fall 2012.


Olympic National Park Closure Tickets Stand
Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict and Port Angeles Police Chief Terry Gallagher asked U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan to dismiss the "closure violation" tickets issued to people who stopped at a trailhead Saturday at Olympic National Park.

The tickets carry a $125 fine for visiting the park during the government shutdown The law enforcement officials told the Peninsula Daily News it was absurd for the ranger to issue the tickets Saturday and it shows a lack of discretion. Durkan said no. She says those ticketed drove past signs saying the park is closed. Park spokeswoman Barb Maynes says it supports the way the ranger did her job. Three citations were issued at the trailhead and two more were issued to bicyclists near Quinault who were asked to leave the park.

October 16, 2013/AP