The Best of 2013, Day 7: Fellow Spotlight on Robert McClure

Happy Holidays from IJNR! During the month of December, we'll be bringing you a sampler from the "Best of 2013" - a recap of some of the best stories and series of the year from our alumni. Some of them have already been featured here on the Nooze, but many of them haven't! We hope you enjoy reading, hearing and exploring these top-notch stories as much as we have.


Robert McClureToday we highlight alumnus Robert McClure.  Co-founder and executive director of the journalism nonprofit InvestigateWest, he was recently voted one of Seattle's "Most Influential People of 2013." (He's listed right there alongside rap artist Macklemore and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, which we think is pretty darn impressive!) Under his direction, InvestigateWest won 10 reporting awards in 2013 for investigative and enterprise reporting. McClure is a Pulitzer Prize finalists, and a winner of the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism.

Here are a few of his 2013 stories:

The current estimate of how much fish people eat in Washington State, a key criteria for setting water quality standards, is less than one-tenth the figure used by Oregon. Credit: Jason Alcorn

Business Issues Trump Health Concerns in Fish Consumption Fight

The Washington State Department of Ecology has known since the 1990s that its water-pollution limits have meant some Washingtonians regularly consume dangerous amounts of toxic chemicals in fish from local waterways.

At least twice, Ecology has been told by its overseers at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fix the problem and better protect people’s health. Ecology was close to finally doing that last year — until Boeing and other business interests launched an intense lobbying campaign aimed not just at Ecology but also at the Washington Legislature and then-Gov. Christine Gregoire. That is the picture that emerges from recent interviews as well as government documents obtained by InvestigateWest under the Washington Public Records Law.

The problem lies in Ecology’s estimate of how much fish people eat. The lower the amount, the more water pollution Ecology can legally allow. So by assuming that people eat the equivalent of just one fish meal per month, Ecology is able to set less stringent pollution limits... Read more.

For more on this fish-consumption story, see the version that Robert did for KQED's QUEST-Northwest:

Scientists Want to Know How Much Fish You Ate Last Night

How Boeing, Allies Torpedoed State Rules on Toxic Fish

Duwamish Valley Residents Face Health Threats, Study Shows as EPA Chooses Superfund Cleanup Plan