Our Voice: Thumbs up to Trios Health

April 5, 2014 

Trios Health recently earned the top-level designation of a Level 1 Cardiac Center, significantly expanding the number of cardiac patients it's qualified to treat.

Trios joins Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland in having the designation, making two such facilities in the Tri-City area.

For anyone suffering a heart attack in the Tri-Cities, the additional services could prove to be lifesaving. Minutes count in treating cardiac arrest, and the option of taking patients to Trios will sometimes shave as much as 20 minutes off an ambulance ride.

The net result will be better outcomes for patients. Bravo.

Second chance to get it right

Thumbs up to Gov. Jay Inslee for vetoing a bill that would have placed new regulations on police use of drones.

Inslee said he vetoed the bill partly because he was worried it would restrict public access to government data.

The legislation contained provisions that would prevent government agencies from disclosing personal information collected through drone surveillance.

The bill would have defined personal information so broadly that it might have prevented the government from releasing video of a disaster simply because it showed a person engaged in normal activities in a public setting -- pulling into a parking space at the mall, for example.

Plenty was wrong with this bill, but the absurd expansion of the notion of privacy was the most egregious. Now the Legislature can get to work on some reasonable protections to keep drones from violating actual privacy rights.

Misapplied secrecy

Thumbs down to the Obama administration for refusing to turn over documents related to enforcement of environmental laws at wind farms.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said the Fish and Wildlife Service has spent the past year engaged in a "deliberate slow rolling of documents and answers" regarding dozens of eagles and other protected birds that have been killed by wind turbines.

Hastings, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, wants the wildlife agency turn over internal documents related to its enforcement of laws protecting eagles and other birds. The government estimates that at least 85 eagles are killed each year by wind turbines.

Hastings and other committee members are investigating a new agency rule allowing energy companies to kill or injure eagles without fear of prosecution for up to 30 years.

The rule, announced in December, provides legal protection for the lifespan of wind farms and other projects if energy companies obtain permits and make efforts to avoid killing protected birds. The permits would be reviewed every five years, and companies would have to submit reports of how many eagles they killed. Until now, such reporting has been voluntary, and the Interior Department has refused to release the information.

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Wyo., called the 30-year permits ''licenses to kill,'' The Associated Press reported.

Whether the benefits of wind power outweigh the harm is a question the American people -- through their elected representatives -- must ultimately decide. It's wrong for any government agency to withhold any information that could help them draw a rational conclusion.

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