The headline: "Sand on roads worse than salt, environmentalists say."
The reality: One environmentalist—Doug Myers of People for Puget Sound—said that a small amount of salt wouldn't likely impact Puget Sound, but that it would harm other creeks and waterways in the Puget Sound region. Moreover, the group hasn't taken any position on salt vs. sand.
So who are these multiple "environmentalists" who say salt is better than sand? Apparently, they exist only in Times reporters Susan Kelleher and Warren Cornwall's overactive imaginations. The two reporters did manage to find one academic to support Frank Blethen's bizarre pro-salting crusade—sort of. That academic, a professor in Ohio, said that dumping sand into the Sound would be worse than salting. But SDOT spokesman Rick Sheridan noted that the city actually sweeps up all the sand... meaning the Ohio professor was asked to respond to a question that has nothing to do with Seattle's actual policy.
The reality, continued: Sand vs. salt is a decades-old debate with outspoken advocates on both sides, but the bottom line is that salt is an environmental toxin hazardous to aquatic life, and sand is considered effective in places, like Seattle, where long periods of snow pack are expected.