Strickland, Huffman, Porter Call for Examination of Toxic Chemical Endangering Coho Salmon
Lakewood, WA– Today, Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) along with Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-02), Chair of the Natural Resources Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee and Katie Porter (CA-45), Chair of the Natural Resources Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee sent a letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging the agencies to investigate the effects of 6PPD-quinone, a highly toxic degradation product from tires and recycled rubber, on coho salmon and other salmonids, aquatic species, and watersheds in the South Sound and across the country. (Please find the full letter here or below.)
“The discovery that a chemical as ubiquitous as its chemical precursor in tires, 6PPD, may be contributing to widespread salmon mortality has profound implications for salmon recovery efforts. Given the dismal trajectory of West Coast salmon populations, your agencies should be working with great urgency to gain a better understanding of this threat and to take any necessary actions to address it.” the Members wrote in the letter.
The members go on to request a response to seven questions regarding how the agencies are evaluating the impacts of 6PPD-quinone and how they plan to monitor and address 6PPD-quinone as an environmental threat.
The letter is the latest in a series of efforts by Congresswoman Strickland to raise the profile of this issue. In August, Strickland called for funding to be included in the reconciliation package for research into the toxic chemical killing coho salmon. In July, Strickland introduced an amendment, which was included in H.R. 4502, the appropriations minibus package, highlighting the urgency of this issue. Strickland also participated in a House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing on this topic on July 15th.
Congresswoman Strickland has made environmental protection and restoration a priority throughout her first term in Congress. In June, the House passed the PUGET SOS Act of 2021 co-led by Congresswoman Strickland and Congressman Kilmer to enhance the federal government’s role and investment in the Puget Sound. This came shortly after Strickland and Kilmer secured a historic funding increase for Puget Sound restoration earlier that month from the House Appropriations Subcommittee. In April, Strickland led a letter to the Subcommittee, cosigned by nearly the entire Washington delegation, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio, and Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Raùl Grijalva requesting funding for the program at $50 million. Strickland also co-chairs the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, founded in 2013 by Rep. Derek Kilmer and former Rep. Denny Heck with Derek Kilmer. The Caucus focuses on recovering Puget Sound through steps like preventing pollution from urban stormwater runoff, protecting and restoring habitat, and restoring and re-opening shellfish beds.
In addition to Reps. Huffman, Porter, and Strickland, the letter was signed by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Ed Case (HI-01), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Adam Smith (WA-09), Darren Soto (FL-09), and Mike Thompson (CA-05).
The full letter can be viewed here or below:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1401 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20230
Principal Deputy Director
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Administrator Spinrad and Principal Deputy Director Williams,
We write to you to urge your agencies’ to further investigate the effects of 6PPD-quinone on coho salmon and other salmonids, aquatic species, and watersheds across the country.
Recently published research has shown that 6PPD-quinone is highly toxic to endangered coho salmon. While it has been well documented that road runoff is often associated with significant, sudden die offs of coho salmon in urban streams, this is the first research to specifically identify the specific toxin that could be killing the coho. Because this finding is new, there are still many questions including whether 6PPD-quinone is toxic to other salmonids, whether it affects other aquatic wildlife, whether it bioaccumulates and biomagnifies up the food chain, and to what extent it is impacting other watersheds across the country.
Recently in the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, we heard from scientists and stakeholders about the impact of 6PPD-quinone on the health and productivity of salmon runs, livelihoods, tribal identity and treaty rights, as well as potential solutions to address this issue. We also heard about salmon recovery efforts including recovery plans, restoration efforts, and adaptive management. The discovery that a chemical as ubiquitous as its chemical precursor in tires, 6PPD, may be contributing to widespread salmon mortality has profound implications for salmon recovery efforts. Given the dismal trajectory of West Coast salmon populations, your agencies should be working with great urgency to gain a better understanding of this threat and to take any necessary actions to address it.
Accordingly, we request a timely response to the following questions:
- What are NOAA and FWS doing to evaluate the impacts of 6PPD-quinone on salmonids and other species?
- What impact is 6PPD-quinone-linked, pre-spawn mortality having on your agencies’ coho salmon recovery efforts? How are your agencies incorporating the impacts of this chemical on endangered salmon recovery efforts?
- What are sublethal effects of 6PPD-quinone on aquatic species and is there concern about bioaccumulation and biomagnification to higher trophic levels?
- What are your agencies doing to monitor watersheds where 6PPD-quinone is present and to understand its impacts on aquatic ecosystems?
- How are your agencies working with researchers and stakeholders to understand and address the impacts of 6PPD-quinone?
- If salmon mortality from 6PPD-quinone is significant and widespread, as some experts believe, what do your agencies plan to do about it?
- What additional resources or authorities do your agencies need to address the impacts of this chemical on the fish, wildlife, and resources that you manage?
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter and the work you have done to address this issue thus far.
[Members of Congress]
Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland serves as Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and is the only African-American woman to serve on the House Armed Services Committee. She is one of the first Korean-American women elected to Congress and the first African-American to represent the Pacific Northwest at the federal level.