If you’re concerned about our Mother Earth, don’t be. The planet we inhabit will be just fine. A few thousand years after humankind is gone, Earth will have recovered from the damage done during the very brief time it suffered human infestation. The reign of people will be just a tiny blip on the planet’s many-billion-years history.

In case you were holding on to hope that the coming environmental apocalypse might somehow be prevented, our leaders are doing what they can to assure that any hope is misplaced. The current occupant of the White House has appointed an oil-and-gas lobbyist as acting Secretary of the Interior and a coal lobbyist as acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The President has announced both as nominees for permanent positions.

Which brings us to the Oyster Problem.

You no doubt know what an oyster is. You may not be familiar with imidacloprid. Recently, legislators in the state of Washington have approved the spraying of imidacloprid pesticides on Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor oyster beds. The targeted pests are burrowing shrimp whose burrowing stirs up the soil, mucking up the water, causing the oysters to sink and suffocate. Large oyster growers raise the beds, suspending them in water. Small growers claim the equipment needed for this is too expensive.

Spraying had previously been banned. Imidacloprid, a neurotoxin used as an insecticide in farming, targets invertebrates. So it kills crabs, too. In a field test, the chemical killed or immobilized ninety-seven percent of crabs in the test area. Thus, spraying it on oyster beds was banned.

In a rare display of bi-partisanship, state legislators overturned the ban. For good measure, they also transferred oversight from the state’s Department of Ecology to the Department of Agriculture. Thus, oyster farming is treated as if it were agriculture.

Imidacloprid’s packaging displays the warning “Do not apply directly to water.” So the chemical kills everything but oysters, so the oysters must be okay? Something to think about when you see Willapa Bay Oysters featured on a menu.

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