How Kitsap shaped Jay Manning, Ecology director

South Kitsap native Jay Manning, director of the Washington Department of Ecology, serves as the state’s top environmental protector at a time that I consider unique in state history. See my story in today’s Kitsap Sun.

Gov. Chris Gregoire has said that now is the last best chance to restore Puget Sound before the waterway collapses into a death spiral. The Puget Sound Partnership was created to take up the gauntlet.

Climate change has emerged as a matter of grave importance, and the nation’s response is being forged in heated political battles across the country.

The unspeakable dangers of nuclear waste at Hanford in Eastern Washington are now reaching critical mass and demand immediate attention — if I can stretch another metaphor to its limits.

When I sat down with Jay Manning to discuss these issues, the Ecology director revealed how his growing up on the Kitsap Peninsula shaped his character, his values and his vision for what needs to be done. I think our interview offers a glimpse into a man with a talent to combine science, economics, law and politics.

When I first started to research this story, I asked a variety of people what they thought about Manning. They included, among others:
Bill Ruckelshaus, the first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and now chairman of the Puget Sound Partnership;
Dick Davis, vice president of communications for the Association of Washington Business;
And Kathy Fletcher, executive director of the People for Puget Sound.

All praised Manning for his talents, described above, with slight variations in where they believe he and the Department of Ecology should be headed.

As I composed the story, I decided to veer away from the praise that folks have for Manning and focus on the man himself. I wanted this story to be fairly concise, so I set aside discussions about water resources, oil spills, toxic site cleanups, air pollution and others — though they deserve attention at another time.

I thought you’d like to hear from the Ecology director himself, so I picked out some audio highlights from our interview, which you’ll find in the column to the left of the story text. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to Jay Manning in his own words.

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