Last year WE posted a bit o' history about Earth Day
that's worth revisiting.That post included an article that described the heavy environmental guilt-trip being laid on children without remorse. Read it again, and watch the accompanying short video, Green Washing a Young Mind (below)Earth Day's message: Eliminate humans
by Brian Sussman, April 22, 2012
Yesterday I took a video crew to the Earth Day Festival in Santa Cruz, California. I chose this location because this city is known for being a model of greenness, and even maintains Department of Climate Change, complete with a director making $250,000 per year.
The question I posed in my man-on-the street-interviews was, “What is the greatest threat confronting mankind?”
In almost every interview, I was told the greatest threat was the human species.
Most troubling was an interview with a 12-year old girl who said she had been taught in school that global warming was real, that there were too many people on the planet, and that she occasionally thinks it might be best to end her own life to do her part to save the planet.
Her mom stood next to her, proudly looking on.
This is an example of what I write about in chapter six of Eco-Tyranny, entitled “Green Gospel.” What this girl has been taught is nothing less than green-child abuse. " (continue)
Here's the video Sussman described ... "Green Washing a Young Mind"
While kids are subjected to a steady diet of dire predictions in schools
, there's growing evidence that CO2 greenhouse gas correlations may be significantly wrong, and the planet's condition may even be greening
. But don't expect to get much honesty about that in Washington State
, from our local governments
, or in the press. The crisis scenario is too lucrative to abandon.
'Lest you think WE make this up, check out this Reuters story published just last week in Norway:
Climate scientists struggle to explain warming slowdown
(Reuters) - OSLO, April 16, 2013
Scientists are struggling to explain a slowdown in climate change that has exposed gaps in their understanding and defies a rise in global greenhouse gas emissions.
Often focused on century-long trends, most climate models failed to predict that the temperature rise would slow, starting around 2000. Scientists are now intent on figuring out the causes and determining whether the respite will be brief or a more lasting phenomenon.
Getting this right is essential for the short and long-term planning of governments and businesses ranging from energy to construction, from agriculture to insurance. Many scientists say they expect a revival of warming in coming years.
Theories for the pause include that deep oceans have taken up more heat with the result that the surface is cooler than expected, that industrial pollution in Asia or clouds are blocking the sun, or that greenhouse gases trap less heat than previously believed.
The change may be a result of an observed decline in heat-trapping water vapor in the high atmosphere, for unknown reasons. It could be a combination of factors or some as yet unknown natural variations, scientists say.
Weak economic growth and the pause in warming is undermining governments' willingness to make a rapid billion-dollar shift from fossil fuels. Almost 200 governments have agreed to work out a plan by the end of 2015 to combat global warming.
"The climate system is not quite so simple as people thought," said Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish statistician and author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist" who estimates that moderate warming will be beneficial for crop growth and human health.
Some experts say their trust in climate science has declined because of the many uncertainties. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had to correct a 2007 report that exaggerated the pace of melt of the Himalayan glaciers and wrongly said they could all vanish by 2035.
"My own confidence in the data has gone down in the past five years," said Richard Tol, an expert in climate change and professor of economics at the University of Sussex in England.
Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius first showed in the 1890s how man-made carbon dioxide, from coal for instance, traps heat in the atmosphere. Many of the exact effects are still unknown.
Greenhouse gas emissions have hit repeated record highs with annual growth of about 3 percent in most of the decade to 2010, partly powered by rises in China and India. World emissions were 75 percent higher in 2010 than in 1970, UN data show."
The article goes on to say that even though anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change models driven by CO2 increases don't seem to be working very well, the IPCC will probably adjust its predictions and carry on anyway. No surprise there.
May the sane among you, and your little ones, make it through Earth Day without suffering pangs of guilt for living
.ADULT EXTRA - If you can bear a few F-bombs (bless his heart, you know George Carlin) watch this too...
he expression "discrediting tactics" in politics refers to personal attacks against a public figure, intended to discourage people from believing in the figure or supporting their cause.
If there's one thing the public should join hands and reject, it's the injustice of blatant character assassination.
WWU Professor Emeritus, Dr. Don Easterbrook, a qualified and engaged local PhD (a lifelong scientist, not a dotty relic) has come under direct personal attack in the press and academia because his cause is only scientific truth.
to share information and raise questions about the adjustment of original data in testimony to a Washington State legislative panel last week
. He urged legislators to make policy but with eyes wide open, not eyes wide shut. Now for his sins, it's open "shoot the messenger" season on Dr. Easterbrook.
WE see that the press is loving every minute of it. You may have heard this saying in the press, "If it bleeds, it leads." The knives are out, and a truth-seeker is getting bloodied, and the sharks are in on the kill.
Western Washington University (WWU) has been reeling, with its Geology Department particularly incensed, that one of its own
professors emeritus would dare speak openly to share raw information, answer questions, and earnestly encourage legislators to weigh some widely held beliefs
. In what seems nothing short of retribution, WWU has launched not only an attack, but a series of them.
WWU's first staff quote in the press about Dr. Easterbrook's testimony was cited as coming from a WWU "geology faculty position statement" which the AP had in hand the very same day
. Now folks, that was quicker than a Jack Rabbit on a date, as the old saying goes. WWU knew and cared enough to be that prepared?
What possible beef would this august temple of science and learning have with anybody sharing data with legislators? This first "geology faculty position statement" wasn't linked to the AP Olympia release, but WE'll try to obtain it. Here's the AP text that was published nationwide:
Western Washington University's geology faculty said in a position statement that they concur with rigorous, peer-reviewed assessments by the National Academies of Science, the National Research Council and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global climate has warmed significantly and that human activities — mainly greenhouse-gas emissions — account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s.
"I think it's unfortunate that someone who really isn't an active expert in their field is being chosen to discuss this important topic," said Bernie Housen, chairman of Western Washington University's geology department.
In the wee small hours this morning (Easter, no less), the Bellingham Herald has joined in the feeding frenzy. Under the cover of "repeater" not "reporter" mode, it published another WWU Geology Faculty statement that bitterly discredits Dr. Easterbrook personally, under the cautious arms-length byline:
"By WWU GEOLOGY FACULTY — COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALD"
This chest-beating "submission" is loaded with ad hominem*
attack and politically charged spit, such as a claim that [Sen. Ericksen] “chose instead to, apparently, appeal to a narrow partisan element with his choice of speaker.” The faculty position rants a steady stream of derogatory characterizations of the scientist's work and integrity, while aggrandizing their own position and insisting their methods are so unimpeachable that the actual source data needn't be discussed
. ("Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain
" ring any bells?) Then it ends with incensed guidance to legislators and the public that critics of establishment processes and the status quo
harbor “conspiracy-based ideas.” (You'll find the scathing Herald item in its entirety here
Now - WE ask - who in their right mind would dare raise questions in such a hostile academic environment? A person with courage and integrity might
. But the message from these academics is clearly, "Don't dare to question ~
." Real peer-review could result in jeer review, of you
WE expect that Dr. Easterbrook would reel from the suggestion that he's a modern Galileo Galilei. He seems like a straightforward man who has simply questioned data and process. But WE have observed punishing intolerance and attacks of the person
, and the fervor does warrant comparison to prior inquisitions
. (Other highly-qualified experts have been battered in the Whatcom environs; Easterbrook's not entirely alone.) WE feel their pain.
The lesson and the warning is: When science is politicized, peer review flounders in a closed-minded loop. Reviewers are fearful of agreeing with “outliers,” or making a career-limiting statement. Fortunately, Dr. Easterbrook has retired from the crippling restraint of tenure, so he doesn't have to worry about that. (Could he have gone out on a a limb like this if he was still working at WWU?). There is a certain freedom in not being beholden to any politically motivated patron or employer.
A little tutorial on how critics are bloodied:Character assassination is a deliberate and sustained process that aims to destroy the credibility and reputation of a person.Agents of character assassinations employ a mix of open and covert methods to achieve their goals, such as raising false accusations, planting and fostering rumors, and manipulating information.*An ad hominem attack
(Latin for "to the man" or "to the person"), is short for argumentum ad hominem
, is an argument made personally against an opponent instead of against their argument.Ad hominem circumstantial
points out that someone is in circumstances such that they are disposed to take a particular position. Ad hominem
circumstantial constitutes an attack on the bias of a source. This is fallacious because a disposition to make a certain argument does not make the argument false
.The circumstantial fallacy
applies only where the source taking a position is only making a logical argument from premises that are generally accepted. Where the source seeks to convince an audience of the truth of a premise by a claim of authority or by personal observation, observation of their circumstances may reduce the evidentiary weight of the claims, sometimes to zero.In contrast, the wise know
~End of lesson~
(Except WE'd add that those who resort to personal attacks like this reveal fear and closed-mindedness. Mean-spirited bullying is patently cruel and unfair, too.)
If this bashing bothers you, what can you do? Let the attackers (WWU, its Geology Faculty and the press) know exactly what you think of it. It's low, and what's really disturbing is the thought that the world will miss critically important truths when messengers
get hammered to a bloody pulp.
President WWU: Bruce Shepard
WWU: Stephanie Bowers
WWU: Jeff Wright
Editor: Bellingham Herald
(Q - What's fair & balanced?)
The Seattle Times posted this news item
about Senator Doug Ericksen of Ferndale, and Professor Emeritus at Western, Don Easterbrook :
OLYMPIA — The Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee hosted a global warming skeptic on Tuesday who testified for more than an hour that it’s a bunch of hooey.
Don Easterbrook, an emeritus geology professor from Western Washington University, told lawmakers that there is no global warming, that the Antarctic ice sheet is not melting, sea levels are not rising and severe storms are not increasing in frequency.
And one more: “CO2 cannot possibly cause global warming. The reason is because there is so little of it. It is a trace gas,” Easterbrook said. “If you double nothing you still have nothing.”
Rather than go by the overtly snarky Times
report, maybe it would be better to view this video of Easterbrook's testimony
, where he presents the raw data. WE strongly encourage you to take the time to watch this hearing. One of the most important quotes from his testimony is, the data shows, "CO2 is the result
of global warming, not the cause
of global warming."
Easterbrook was invited by the panel’s chairman, GOP Sen. Doug Ericksen, of Ferndale, who has said he has doubts about climate change himself.
Ericksen’s committee recently stripped language out of a bill, requested by Gov. Jay Inslee, that asserted the state was experiencing a series of problems because of climate change. Inslee has testifed that there’s no debate about the science and that Washington should become a leader in dealing with climate change.
Democrats on the committee questioned Easterbrook’s statements.
Sen. Ranker clearly found this line of dialog to be quite nettlesome, saying, "Ninety-five percent of the peer-reviewed data very clearly states climate change is real, it’s happening, it’s human caused. To have a bold discussion about the facts is ridiculous."
With all due respect, it would appear that Sen. Ranker clearly does not understand the role of peer review
, nor the role of science in getting at the truth. WE would hate to think he would prefer not to let inconvenient facts get in the way of landmark public policy.Sen. Ranker asked Dr. Easterbrook why the overwhelming body of peer reviewed articles support anthropogenic global warming. The reason, which Easterbrook chose not to provide, is that government grants, and career advancement in certain fields of research, only support the pursuit of "politically correct" results.
Peer review does not guarantee the truth. Done right, it can sometimes help. But it can also go horribly wrong. Scientists are just as prone to cling to dogmatic beliefs, and are just as prone to corruption as anybody else. Science goes to hell when it becomes politicized.
Anthropogenic climate change has become extremely politicized, and belief in the scientific research seems to fall along party lines. An abstract describing a research paper at The Cultural Cognition Project
at Yale Law School describes an interesting behavior:
The conventional explanation for controversy over climate change emphasizes impediments to public understanding: limited popular knowledge of science, the inability of ordinary citizens to assess technical information, and the resulting widespread use of unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. A large survey of U.S. adults (N = 1540) found little support for this account. On the whole, the most scientifically literate and numerate subjects were slightly less likely, not more, to see climate change as a serious threat than the least scientifically literate and numerate ones. More importantly, greater scientific literacy and numeracy were associated with greater cultural polarization: respondents predisposed by their values to dismiss climate change evidence became more dismissive, and those predisposed by their values to credit such evidence more concerned, as science literacy and numeracy increased.
The abstract continues,
We suggest that this evidence reflects a conflict between two levels of rationality: the individual level, which is characterized by citizens’ effective use of their knowledge and reasoning capacities to form risk perceptions that express their cultural commitments; and the collective level, which is characterized by citizens’ failure to converge on the best available scientific evidence on how to promote their common welfare. Dispelling this “tragedy of the risk-perception commons,” we argue, should be understood as the central aim of the science of science communication.
A bipartisan majority passed the Governor's climate legislation today in the State House, sending it to Jay Inslee's desk for his signature. The bill enjoyed bipartisan support in the Senate as well.
The reason so many legislators crossed the aisle to support it, is that it included a measurement of environmental effectiveness. Previous climate legislation simply adopted the latest politically trendy option without an up-front assessment of potential effectiveness.
The Governor's climate bill, on the other hand, required an analysis of the various potential climate strategies including "the effectiveness in achieving...emission reduction objectives, including the cost per ton of emission reduction." This echoes a proposal we've offered in the past in our Environmental Priorities Act, which would "ensure the state spent its scarce resources on approaches that yield the greatest environmental benefit." It is an approach used in the past by the Natural Resources Defense Council to find the best ways to reduce carbon emissions.
The effort in this bill is to try to hold everyone accountable for proof, not conjecture when it comes to our tax dollars and burdensome government regulations.
It seems that every normal variation in the planet's parameters cause climate alarmists to drum up panic. According to environmental extremists, and either uninformed or enthusiastically complicit public officials, normal human activity is invariably responsible for the most frightening scenarios, calling on the precautionary principle
to save us!
This particular panic relies on total ignorance about basic chemistry. Watch out, Whatcom. A big show is coming to town on March 28th to promulgate fear that's based on spin, misinformation and nothing less than tinfoil hat conspiracy theory. Those poor shellfish ... in danger! Not.Is the ocean becoming acidic? No. The ocean is incredibly immense, and it's slightly alkaline ("base") at this time in history (at a pH of 8.14). And it will remain so - alkaline, base. It's only trending a miniscule degree towards neutral. No matter what, even if all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were deposited into the ocean in one moment, its pH would remain safely on the "base" end of the scale.
There's not enough atmospheric CO2 to make the oceans "acidic" - and these folks suggest that acidic
water will dissolve shells. Read this paper, "Acid Seas" which debunks the myth.
Of course, this slight trend, all within in the alkaline or "base" end of the pH scale
, is being linked to anthropogenic (man-made) carbon dioxide.Why don't they say neutralization instead of acidification, when the oceans are still on the alkaline side of neutral?
That question must be asked. "Neutral" is such a non-threatening word, whereas acid is corrosive
, dangerous and very scary, like acid in a car battery. Ocean water's pH won't cross neutral line into acidity. Just for comparison, let's look at the pH of some well known household items, shall we? Let's shall!
- 1.0 - battery acid
- 1.8 - 2.0 - limes
- 2.2. - 2.4 lemon juice
- 2.2 Vinegar (acetic acid)
- 2.8 - 3.4 - fruit jellies
- 2.9 - 3.3 - apple juice, cola
- 3.0 - 3.5 - strawberries
- 3.7 - orange juice
- 4.0 - 4.5 - tomatoes
- 5.6 - unpolluted rain
- 5.8 - 6.4 - peas
- 6.0 - 6.5 - corn
- 6.1 - 6.4 - butter
- 6.4 - cow's milk
- 6.5 - 7.5 - human saliva
- 6.5 - 7.0 - maple syrup
- 7.0 - distilled water -- NEUTRAL
- 7.3 - 7.5 - human blood
- 7.6 - 8.0 - egg whites
- 8.14 ocean water
- 8.3 - baking soda
- 9.2 - borax
- 10.5 - milk of magnesia
- 11.0 - laundry ammonia
- 12.0 - lime water
- 13.0 - lye
What is pH, anyway? In chemistry pH is a measure of hydrogen ion concentration; but in laymen's terms, the number supplies useful information about the way a substance acts (and interacts) on a scale from strong acid to neutral to strong base (like oven cleaner). The pH scale goes from about zero to about 14 for most naturally occurring solutions (it can go below zero and above 14, but 0 ~ 14 is the normally encountered range). Notice that we put things in our mouths that range from 2.0 all the way up to 10.5. But not until we reach 11.0 (laundry ammonia on the alkaline side) or 1.0 (battery acid on the acidic side), do we get into burn territory. There's a huge range in the middle that is safe for humans and other living things. The difference between one pH number and the next is also big. The pH scale is logarithmic, expressing magnitude like the earthquake Richter scale, where the differences between each number become increasingly large:
Can relatively small pH changes have an effect on ecological systems? Of course they might. But life finds a way. Life operates within a wide range of "normal," and continuously adapts. The planet and its chemistry have never been static. The ocean has become a little less alkaline over time. Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.25 to 8.14 (Wikipedia), a pH reduction of 0.11 in 243 years. This current prediction is for a long-term change of something like .01 - which is a very great deal less in proportion.
Is this good or bad? Is that a lot, or a little? (It's very
little.) What causes it? That's hard to say. The current wave of "research" rests entirely on the hypothesis that it's all about CO2, when that's not only unlikely but virtually impossible (its a chemical realit
y) given the huge volume of water in the oceans and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Lower pH could be a tiny bit better for some life forms, and a tiny bit worse for others, but it's not proven that the minuscule change will fall outside "normal" range. Just as some flowers prefer acidic soil, and some alkaline, some species are virtually indifferent to big swings. Hydrangeas thrive and bloom in different colors depending on soil pH. (Here's some info on that
What causes a shift in ocean alkalinity? It's easy for alarmists to jump to the conclusion that because the change coincided
with human industrialization, we must
have caused it. Even this article
makes the unjustified jump to anthropogenic causes. But a core scientific principle is "correlation does not imply causation
." Just because one thing happens while another thing happens, that doesn't prove the first thing caused
the second thing to happen. Science is a method by which we find and test evidence. A person could also correlate dress hemlines to this over the same period of time. The point is, fear-generating "ocean acidification" statements are being made without relaying the reality about degree nor any real proof of causation. The entire assertion also flies in the face of the fundamentals of chemistry. There is valid information about ocean chemistry that attributes most pH changes to natural organic upflows off our shores, but no matter... Blame it on the atmosphere and land use. Hypotheses of anthropogenic CO2 causing global environmental chaos are non-falsifiable, making them impossible to prove or disprove. They may be logical, and examples of good thinking even, but they are insufficient to convict. "If you’re going to announce your conclusions before you have the supporting data then you’re not engaging in science you’re engaging in politics."
Lacking objective truth, the knee-jerk reaction by environmental extremists invokes the precautionary principle, on the premise that we'd better be safe or we'll be sorry. It's a vacant and silly Chicken Little
approach to change. And it completely ignores offsetting benefits of whatever it is we're supposed to be saved from
, in addition to curtailing the beneficial aspects of whatever it is they allege is causing the supposedly undesirable effect. The public policy invoked to prevent the artifact could have an even worse impact on society and overall planetary well-being, but this is rarely considered.
From Governor Gregoire's executive order 12-07 - WASHINGTON’S RESPONSE TO OCEAN ACIDIFICATION, "Reduce nutrients and organic carbon in locations where these pollutants alone, or in combination with other pollutants, are causing or contributing to multiple water quality problems in our marine waters. This effort shall be coordinated with the Directors of the Department of Agriculture and Department of Health, and the Executive Director of the Conservation Commission. In implementing this directive, Ecology with its partners shall prioritize watersheds with the most significant water quality problems, regardless of the source(s) – urban storm water, septic tanks, large and small sewage treatment facilities, or rural runoff from agricultural lands. This effort shall be carried out in consultation with other agencies, affected local and tribal governments, federal agencies, landowners, and the environmental community. These efforts shall: ... " (Read the book...
Note the absence of reference to CO2 in the water and the implication that land-use is an important part of the problem, when that has not been demonstrated. Even the supporters correctly point out that lower pH in marine waters here is primarily the result of upwelling of CO2-rich water from deeper parts of the ocean, but they then make the leap to atmospheric CO2 as a cause without adequate foundation in the data for doing so.
The legislature really cannot be held to the kind of dictatorial executive orders that have been issued here. What Gregoire was doing is just like Mayor Bloomberg banning big soft drinks in New York City – imposing will without consideration of truth or rights.
Many rent-seeking groups have learned that it is very lucrative to collect government grants to further this agenda, so in effect, our own tax dollars are being used against us. We pay to perpetuate this behavior.
It looks like this "free" seminar on March 28 will predict dire consequences based on conjecture and non-falsifiable hypotheses, to make the case for public policy that places even more restrictions on normal human rights and activities. It would be interesting to see how they respond to knowledgeable questions from well-informed skeptics.
WE hope a lot of people go, and ask tough questions.
Yesterday, the county water district caucus of the WRIA 1 Planning Unit transmitted a letter to Whatcom County Council. That may sound boring, but WE think it's important and something everybody should see. Why?The letter
describes in clear terms how water laws affect everybody. It explains what's supposed to happen. Then it lays out how agencies and planners have basically run away with the process since 2009. A lot of people have been dumped - citizens with wells, private water associations, the county's public water districts, and even small cities in large part - even though the Watershed Planning Act (RCW 90.82.10) says:
The legislature finds that the local development of watershed plans for managing water resources and for protecting existing water rights is vital to both state and local interests. The local development of these plans serves vital local interests by placing it in the hands of people: Who have the greatest knowledge of both the resources and the aspirations of those who live and work in the watershed; and who have the greatest stake in the proper, long-term management of the resources.
In spite of this very clear law, state and regional agencies and the county's departments have jumped the tracks. Not only has resource planning become remote, but both public and
private water rights have been fought over behind closed doors without transparency, or open public meetings
(check out the state law
). Next week, council will have the opportunity to do the right thing to start fixing the
situation. It's pretty clear that only council is motivated to step-in.This is a critical issue that affects everyone. Read this situation letter and attend the meetings listed below if you can. Get involved however you can, or brush-up on the words and music to "How Dry I Am."MEETING ALERTS
A Whatcom County Council Surface Water Work Session
is scheduled for next Tuesday, March 19 at 10:30 a.m. in Courthouse Room #513
, 311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham. Be there! It's a biggie.
(A Puget Sound Partnership/WRIA 1 "WIT
" meeting is also scheduled for Tuesday, from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at the 1000 N Forest Street, Bellingham. You may have missed this post
A special meeting of the WRIA 1 “Joint Consolidated Board”
is scheduled for next Thursday March 21 at 1:30 p.m. also in Courthouse Room #513
, 311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham.
Talk around town is that votes are in the bag for the reconveyance
to pass tomorrow March 12, no matter what anyone
says at the public hearing that starts at 6 pm at the courthouse.
Whatcom County’s Executive and the Parks Department have never bothered to fake objectivity. Git ‘er done
, baby. Most of county council has been partnering and kabbitzing and slicing up the pie since last summer, aglow and intent on ending productive forestry on this 8,844 acres of land to create a massive park
Is there any proof that DNR logging has done harm to the water in Lake Whatcom? Nope. Is there a commitment from Washington Ecology that "lake health" will change, or that its brief summer algae blooms will diminish if this land becomes "park"? Nope. But deliberate and panicky “save the water” claims sold a pack of true believers to think it will make a difference. Proponents have done everything in their power to stop DNR from harvesting timber - the public's "green" renewable resource. Despite common sense, snake oil salesmen have done very well.
The Parks Department's full-blown “vista version” park cost
estimate was over $6 million for work that would drag out over twenty years. To make up for the sticker shock, Parks unveiled a revenue generation plan that (surprise!) would have government sell conservation easements by the acre or in big blocks in the lucrative mitigation marketplace. Hey - investors, check out Whatcom County, it's a gold mine! This growing ripoff financial industry likes to find environmentally healthy places to flip their paper - with middlemen getting rich by doing and producing absolutely nothing. Conservation easements can anchor "restoration" grant funds too, a rent-seeker sideline that keeps on giving.
At least four on council don't care that hard working people in cork boots and red suspenders will lose this great place to work, close to home. It's not their problem if logging families suffer, or the devastating affect it will have on struggling sawmills and the equipment, supply, and hardware trades.While lawsuits pile up demanding that "rural character" must be preserved to keep land use just as it was when the Growth Management Act (GMA) passed, this aberration will be ignored despite its also saying, "
Encourage the conservation of productive forest lands." This issue has been driven by anti-logger sentiment from the start.
Priorities? There are homeless people living under bridges and in cars, a serious lack of adequate mental health facilities, and inmates at the county jail sometimes sleep on the floors of overcrowded cells. But hey, the majority on this council likes parks
, and they want to attract well-heeled hikers. Supposedly locals will put on their trekkers and hike between towns (the park will "connect communities" despite rain, snow and whatever). Yup, one line of bull followed another to establish "facts" that this huge park is essential
to the community's health and quality of life. Yeah, right. Truth or Dare - last blast.
"Backcountry preserve," what a joke.
All this land is within spitting distance of the freeway, within 10 miles from I-5 and the mall. The hills are alive, with the sound of semi's...
Save the water? Not even qualified water-savvy conservationists believe it will make a difference. This footage is from the DNR's inter-trust transfer hearing on May 9, 2011
We need another 8,844 acres of park? This county has more parkland per capita than any other county. This would bring the total acreage to 16,000 acres, in a county where only 11% of all land is owned privately. The "need" for parkland was never what this was about. What was it about?
The council people voting for this know the genesis of the idea:
Oct 11, 2011 - proponent Lisa McShane wrote: “It was at the 2003 tour where Jeff May, DNR logger, said to several of us: "if the people don't want logging here why don't you just reconvey the lands?"
DNR is unwilling to provide recreation on the timberland?
The Land Trust and the Parks Department have promulgated that
Pinnochio-nose fib in official memos and reports. And they scowled through DNR’s recreation outreach offer
on February 26th. The state officials explained that they could move quickly to make Whatcom County a high-priority recreation area, and they would accommodate active mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting and even off-road vehicles (ORV's) in separate zones and still keep the land productive. It could pay for itself, but oh no!
County parks would take better care of this land than the DNR? Another total con. Proponents wrote about breaking the DNR's Habitat Conservation Plan ("HCP") when the land was under their control (from public records):
Oct 13, 2011 - David Wallin, WWU Huxley (who provided supporting "return to nature" reports) wrote to Park Director McFarland and Conservation Northwest’s Mitch Friedman: “It seems that the reason this hasn't been done already on DNR lands is due to DNR's HCP. DNR has taken the position that they are unwilling to even consider wind power on any of their west-side lands. As I understand it, when the HCP was negotiated back in the 90s, they included lots of provisions to allow incidental environmental impacts from a variety of non-forestry related activities (gravel mining, cell phone towers, etc.) on DNR lands. Unfortunately, no one thought to include wind power generation as an allowable non-forestry related activity. DNR is concerned that if they try to re-open the HCP to modify it to now allow wind power, they could lose the entire HCP. However, as I understand it, after reconveyance, the HCP would no longer be an obstacle to considering wind power. Not sure if putting wind power on the land would compromise the reconveyance itself. Can we have wind power in a park? Apparently, we can have cell phone towers in a park so I don't see why we couldn't have wind power.”
Then Mitch Friedman from Conservation Northwest writes back in the same thread: “Very cool. Though we need to think through what it means to meet Hinkley's insistence that the HCP continue to apply to the reconveyed land. Maybe there's a way exempting the ridge tops?”
The hypocrisy about environmental rules is self evident. Local special interests are in lockstep with greedy rent-seeking consultants, WWU, WSU, and even environmental agencies. The whole bunch could milk this land for all it's worth once they have it. If the environment suffers, they can always sue and fine the county, huh? Write a study. Ask for a grant.They don't care what harm it does to the timber and forestry people who have been the backbone of this county for a hundred years. One falsehood after another has been made to deny the human and economic impacts that parks and recreation can never make up for. This county will lose more of its diversity, skills and resilience. Thanks, council!Local government is reaching a critical state of regulatory capture, and this action will make the situation worse. Small wonder special interests have been desperately leading the charge. With all their urgency we wonder, are a stack of grant applications and trail contracts already in the queue, waiting for the curtain to fall? Wait and see.
by Glen Morgan, Property Rights Director
....because people want to be free
When I was in college, my peers and I would have our makeshift debates in the dorm hallways, arguing about the fundamental problems with Marx and other prophets of the left. We usually came to the conclusion that Marx just didn’t understand the nature of man. Columbia University still required all undergrad students to read a core curriculum of largely western thought at the time. So we studied Marx
, John Stuart Mill
, The Federalists Papers
, etc. These debates were not unusual then (I hope they still happen today). The influence of the Socialist Utopian view of the world is still with us today, of course, under a variety of different titles and schemes, and they all share the same fatal flaw that dooms Marxism every time: that some “educated elite” or, to quote Plato, mythical “Philosopher Kings”
could lead the masses to utopia. Like a chronic disease, we can’t seem to shake these failed concepts regardless of how many times they end in disaster.
The term “utopia” is usually used to reference communities or a society that has achieved perfect or at least optimal conditions. It was originally coined by Sir Thomas More
in his 1516 book titled Utopia
about an island society. The first utopian proposal can arguably be Plato’s Republic. The modern view of utopia is a perfect world where everything is in harmony, people are perfect, society is perfect, and the environment is in some type of perfect stasis and all is well. Frequently there is a religious fervor behind the vision of a utopian nirvana, and all who stand in the way are evil.
In modern times, the Central Planners who work in our counties and cities take the same basic failed philosophy and apply it to everything they do. Their efforts are just as doomed and unlikely to result in the mythical utopia.
But Plato is rarely read today, and Marx is usually stuffed on the bookshelf, referenced by today’s “Progressives” only when they think they are out of the general public’s earshot. Given that reality, I’d like to translate their writings to the common experiences we have today.
The primary assumption which drives Central Planning today is that we, the people, are “stupid” (to quote Secretary of State Kerry
) and must be protected from our inevitable mistakes. Since we lowly citizens are, from a Central Planner’s perspective, ignorant peasants who are barely able to think for ourselves, let alone function in society, the Central Planners must make all our decisions for us. Don’t get me wrong – they will “allow” us to vote every now and again for some politician who gives us happy talk (but also thinks we are stupid). However, outside of voting, abortions, gambling, smoking pot, marriage, birth control, movies, and clothing – they believe choices should be limited. Very limited indeed. Since they view themselves as the smartest people on the planet, they also feel entitled to tell everyone else what they can or cannot do. This is power, and Central Planners are always greedy for more.
When faced with our state’s Central Planning schemes, justified under the Growth Management Act
or other legislation, the question that should naturally come to mind is “Who makes the decisions?” If people are stupid and prone to making mistakes, what makes the Central Planners so different?
Obviously, they are as human as the rest of us peasants, and they are just as likely – if not more so - to make mistakes as anyone else.
There is one big difference between the mistakes made by average folk and the Central Planners. When you or I or the rest of us in the peasant class make a mistake, we might hurt ourselves and maybe people close to us. An individual might go bankrupt, have an accident, get arrested, get drunk, lose a job, etc. It isn’t fun to make these mistakes, and many of us learn from them, and we learn from the mistakes of others. Most of us do adjust our behavior so we don’t keep making these mistakes. When the Central Planners make mistakes, they hurt everyone
, and all of those people are innocent. A Central Planner costs the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars as they make a bridge too short like the Columbia River Crossing project.
A central planner destroys an effective ferry system by botching the ferry design
. Sinking bridges
, devastating businesses, destroying industries, causing chaos in communities, and other community-wide destruction is ONLY done by our fearless Central Planners. These mistakes are as common as rain in Washington State where state officials are inevitably moving forward with the Central-Planner mindset.
Just like an individual wants to hide his own mistakes from friends or family members, the central-planning and big government crew want to hide their community disasters from oversight or questioning. They claim they need more taxes, more power, and more time. They blame the stupid peasants because “the plan” is never at fault. They assure us that next time they will get it right. Utopia is just one more plan, ordinance, law, or tax away. Of course, it never comes, and it never will.
Central Planners have no concern about destroying your home, closing down your business, or wreaking havoc with your farm. Your family’s future is of no concern to them. They know best and do everything for the “collective good.” Fortunately for them, a Central Planner can justify any individual harm and any sacrifice required from you and me by invoking the collective good. I have witnessed this in most counties and cities in Washington State. A Central Planner will sacrifice you and your family on the altar of the latest plan without a thought to the human tragedy or consequences of their actions. They destroy dreams for a living, and their individual dream is to keep doing their job over and over until they can collect their government-guaranteed pension.
Planning alone, of course, is not the problem. We all agree to plan our budget, our trips, our work, our education, our home projects, and so on. These plans are modified all the time. We adjust them based on changes in our income, family fortunes, setbacks, and opportunities. In a community, it makes sense to plan for growth, roads, power, playgrounds, and many other aspects of modern living. However, the difference between normal planning and central planning is that the latter aims for utopia. They are picking winners and losers today in an attempt to influence human behavior
and build their utopian scheme for tomorrow. The modern Central Planner is attempting to control, dictate, monitor, and manage nearly every aspect of human behavior. This ridiculous overreach only increases the size and certainty of the inevitable disaster. The people who suffer the most from their actions are us – the peasants, the citizens, the voters, the taxpayers who bear the brunt of the all-too-human Central Planner and their insatiable greed for power.
Our belief is that Marx’s fatal flaw only proves the wisdom of our Founding Fathers reflected by James Madison’s Federalist Paper 51: “It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
As humans, we do make mistakes. Our Central Planners and political leaders are only human – subject to the same foibles and failings as those of us who pay their inflated salaries. Their effort to control every aspect of our lives, dictate where and how we can live, and how much of our hard-earned money they will squander guarantees disaster. Concentrating too much power in government only ensures that, when Central Planners make their mistakes, the swath of harm and destruction is wider, more impactful, and leaves behind more victims. We believe their power should be reduced to protect us from their mistakes.
Curtailing the power, scope, and reach of the modern government is really a critical function of freedom activists today. If we fail to check and shrink the Central Planner’s effort to expand their power, then the failure and collapse of our society is certain – and it will be epic. Their quest for utopia will result in a dysfunctional, disastrous society where power, resources, and opportunities are freely available to very few, but for the “greater good,” of course. This could all be avoided if we would recognize what is happening in our communities, and take active steps to stop it. Do not assume someone else will do it for us.
We must not assume it can’t happen here. Closing our eyes and hoping it all goes away by itself is not a solution. This is happening right now, and all of us need to become engaged to change the future. It doesn’t take an army to stop it, just dedicated individuals from our communities who are willing to stand up for freedom and who will not cower in silence. Please join us at the Freedom Foundation
if you want to be counted with those who will stand up for our freedom today and tomorrow.
In your wildest dreams, can you imagine that government planners, highly paid to work on your behalf, would put place to live, human safety, and independent rural life in the bottom tier of “community attributes/values and relative priority”? Watch your ass, Jack. That’s exactly what they’re doing. Check out these priorities:
That's a mighty 'progressive' agenda to impose on all plans and the water users of Whatcom County! WE wonder how many people agree with it. It sure doesn't sound like a cross section of interests from across the county to us. So, who might come up with a list like that? WE can tell you:
Who would coordinate such a meeting, working up lists like that? Becky Peterson, an independent contractor working under the business name “Geneva Consulting.” There's a lot of special interest on the list, innit?
- Henry Bierlink, Farm Friends
- Clare Fogelsong, City of Bellingham
- Sue Blake, WSU Extension Whatcom County
- Peter Gill, Whatcom County Planning Dept.
- George Boggs, Whatcom Conservation District
- Oliver Grah, Nooksack Tribe Natural Resources Dept.
- Eric Carabba, Whatcom Land Trust
- Kasey Ignac, Washington Dept. of Ecology
- Alan Chapman, Lummi Nation Natural Resources Dept.
- Bert Rubash, Marine Resources Committee
- Treva Coe, Nooksack Tribe Natural Resources Dept.
- Rebecca Schlotterback, Public Utility District No. 1
- Erika Douglas, Whatcom County Public Works
- Marcus Schumacher, CCA North Sound
- Barbara Fisher, Lummi Nation Natural Resources Dept.
- Wendy Steffensen, Re Sources
- Bill Verwolf, City of Lynden/Small Cities Partnership
Who would mastermind and pay for this? The Puget Sound Partnership
. Whatcom County
joined up as a "local integrating organization" a while ago.
With our money? Yes!
They use federal and state tax money, quite a lot of it.
Why are they doing this? To “restore the watershed.”
Huh? Restore to what level? What’s going on? There's all this talk about the Growth Management Act having to protect "rural character" to conserve farms and agriculture. Independent rural living is a zero? Can this be true? Yes! Government, supposed to protect human rights and safety, prioritizes everything but!
At a meeting held January 31 in Bellingham, these seventeen people met for two and a half hours in their third meeting of the “Whatcom Integration Team” (WIT for short).
But a handful of citizens heard about this and showed up uninvited, sitting on the sidelines stunned. They could hardly contain shock and awe at what was described as a “technical” planning exercise, and all kinds of other
local plans were discussed. It seems that everything that happens in the watershed falls within their reach, they say - to protect water and fish. To do that, they'll have to involve themselves in land use, forestry, farming - everything. Where we live, what we do.
How could “community attributes/values” like cultural
be considered technical? Water rights, baby. And planning control. To put a finer point on it, to determine which “watershed services” are most important in the big ecological scheme of things - at least according to these government bureaucrats, tribal staffers, and a very short list of preferred special interest groups who live on grants, rent-seeking.
You see, use of water is managed by the state (the Department of Ecology), and that use has to be “beneficial
.” Very few people have documented water rights on paper, stapled to the deeds of their property (property: that thing you used to have free use of). While the state Supreme Court made it clear that people have a right to use water without permits (many if not most are legally "exempt"), the use has to be beneficial. Without documents and permits, and even with them, water use has limits. But the limits are pretty generous. That may change drastically here in one of the most water-soaked places in the state, if the planners have free rein.
Is your use of water less beneficial than somebody else’s? That’s the gazillion dollar question. If you live independently in a rural area, you're definitely at the bottom of this list, value/attribute = zero
. How did this water planning business get so far out of whack?Whatcom County falls inside a big watershed that was categorized years ago by the state as Water Resource Inventory Area #1 (WRIA for short, sounds like “why-rah”). Back in 1998, the legislature in Olympia came up with a way for folks who don’t have formal water rights, plus the few who do, to work out watershed planning together. Whether people drew water from the ground (like, from a well) or from the surface (from a river or stream), they’d all work as something called a Planning Unit. What’s the bill that set up this process? It's the Watershed Planning Act, RCW 90.82. Take a look at it.
So, that sounds pretty good. What’s going on? Are these people who are coming up with lists like this supposed to be setting goals and for our watershed? Big NO.
Whatcom County Charter says that only council, our legislature, can adopt plans. In Charter 2.20(d) it says council’s job is “To adopt by ordinance comprehensive plans, including improvement plans for the present and future development of the county.” When that planning act was passed, each inventory area (each WRIA) was legally obliged to develop its own local plan. The law said an area’s county government (or governments, if a watershed crossed county lines), plus its biggest city, local tribes if there were any, and the biggest “utility” had a duty to make sure the work got done. So City of Bellingham, the Lummi Tribe, PUD #1 and Whatcom County signed a contract to work together, and Whatcom County took the official “lead agency” role. Then the Nooksack Tribe joined-up. As a group, these five were called the IG - or “initiating governments.” And the state paid money for them to get something started called a Planning Unit. The law said,The purpose of this chapter is to develop a more thorough and cooperative method of determining what the current water resource situation is in each water resource inventory area of the state and to provide local citizens with the maximum possible input concerning their goals and objectives for water resource management and development.
It is necessary for the legislature to establish processes and policies that will result in providing state agencies with more specific guidance to manage the water resources of the state consistent with current law and direction provided by local entities and citizens through the process established in accordance with this chapter.
So, the local process was supposed to provide the local citizens a real role in planning, not pass it off. This was supposed to give state agencies guidance, "direction provided by local entities and citizens" not the reverse. Sounds very reasonable.
And a bottom up Planning Unit was formed just as the law required, and County Council approved that in 2005. This local group (actually, a group of groups called Planning Unit “caucuses” for water associations, cities, the PUD and so on) worked together for four years. The county’s departments would attend, and contractors were hired who were supposed to help determine the water situation. The Planning Unit would review and vote on the acceptability of technical work as studies were done. Some very extremely expensive work was done by USGS and a university that didn’t go well. The "current situation" wasn't well understood. And as time went by, questions were asked that were unwelcome. By August 2009, the bureaucrats decided to simply “stop convening” the Planning Unit; even though there were protests about it. But the initiating governments - the big five - decided to hand over the work to their own staff, called the Management Team.
In short, that’s how so many bureaucrats ended up doing what they’re doing. After the Planning Unit was out of the picture, they adopted and they're "implementing" a new
set of plans on their own. And at this point does this look anything like what the Planning Act called for? And the Puget Sound Partnership is directing how other local plans should fit into its own regional "Action Plan."
WE did some poking around, and discovered the “WIT” meetings have been happening way outside the Council's knowledge and view. We can thank the Puget Sound Partnership
and the WRIA 1
initiating governments (IG's) for WIT. They abandoned the council approved process, and departments and agencies have run everything internally. The WRIA initiating governments joined up with the regional group of governor appointees, the Puget Sound Partnership which brought them lots of grant money. PSP is an unelected quasi-agency, a bureaucracy with zero accountability to citizens. Geneva Consulting works directly for the PSP as well as to WRIA; very convenient.
With work like this going on, WE think it's good that citizens have gone into "WRIA Watch" mode. People are meeting at the Rome Grange at 7 pm Friday Feb 8, and there may be another meeting Monday Feb 11, too! Write to council right away and call too if you can, if you think this is mixed-up and backwards. Better speak loudly and soon. WRIA 1 desperately wants to hand even more of this over to the PUD next Tuesday February 12 on a one-way trip that will take this totally beyond the Watershed Planning Act. The PUD only serves water directly to Cherry Point, but they want to take over planning, to develop a "Water Supply Plan" for the whole county. Sound anything like what the WRIA law requires? "The powers' are furious that everyday people, particularly farmers and rural people, should try to stop this. When you explain your concerns, you might want to remind them that...
Some citizens attended the Whatcom Integration Team meeting held December 11. This is the report submitted by one ~ Editors
Have you ever wondered where all of the money goes that you and the rest of the nation freely provide to our government? You hear all kinds of stories of the bridges to nowhere, extravagant agency parties, and overpriced muffins. Well, the following is an example of that very same type of spending going on in Whatcom County.
Have you ever heard of the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP)? Well, PSP is a Non-Government Organization that was charged “by Governor Gregoire and the Legislature… to create a real Action Agenda that turns things around and leads to a healthy Puget Sound”. The PSP states that it “is a community effort of citizens, governments, tribes, scientists and businesses working together to restore and protect Puget Sound”.
Here in Whatcom County the PSP and our county government are financing a special group of people called the Whatcom Integration Team (WIT) with our money to “clean up and protect Puget Sound”. Having attended the second in a series of up to eight monthly meetings between November of 2012 and June of 2013, the pointless spending and the planned continuum of spending was obvious. There were 17 individuals siting at the table and an additional 3 sitting away from the table for a total of 20. When you assume an hour travel time to and from the two hour meeting it adds up to 60 man-hours of work. If you also assume a very conservative average wage $50.00 per hour, that is about $3,000.00 per meeting and a total of $24,000 for all of the planned meetings. Add into this the cost of the contracted meeting facilitator. The County Executive just recently increased the contract value for this person an addition $90,000 for a total of approximately ???.
A second and somewhat unexpected sign of the wanton spending was the open comments by participants that they needed to make sure that they structured the meetings results to identify the best outcomes to assure their ability to obtain additional grant moneys from the government. It is also noted that the meeting schedule (interestingly called a “roadmap”) shows that for Meeting #5 (in March) the “members consider options for criteria for grant funding purposes”. One can draw their own conclusions from this type of thinking, but to us it is wasteful thinking and not necessarily keeping with any concept of reduced government and reduced spending.
The third indication of this fanciful and unnecessary over-spending only proposition was the makeup of the meeting members. The members are from our county and city planning staff, from Ecology, from the tribes, from the Whatcom Land Trust, from Farm Friends and from various other resource groups and non-profit organizations. Where are the citizens and business representation that were identified in the PSP community effort? Where are the local experts from the water, farming and timber industries? Where are the other private business interests? Where are the property owners whose fates are being determined by this unofficial and non-binding non-government organizational “Team”?
Finally, the meeting provided the cover for an outcome that could surely have been determined by even the very minimally informed progressive thinker. The first meeting identified the ecosystem the members wanted to include, the services or things that the ecosystem may provide for, the pressures or threats that society places on these ecosystem services, and the community values and attributes that are part of the ecosystems. Wow, is that
a mouthful! As an example, forests are an ecosystem. Biodiversity is a service for this ecosystem. One of the pressures or threats to this service is recreational activities while recreation is also an example of a community value or attribute
. The meeting facilitator had organized all of this information into 10 separate ecosystems, 12 services, 16 pressures and 20 values. These items were divided into two separate tables that each shared the ecosystems on the horizontal axis and the ecosystem services on the vertical axis. One table identifies the community attributes for each ecosystem or ecosystem service and the second table identifies the pressures on each of the ecosystem or ecosystem service (refer to the WIT Tables
) (pdf). After the first hour of the meeting the members had pretty much agreed on the tables with a few additions to both the community values and to the pressures. The facilitator pointed out that the local community “visioning” results were reviewed to assure that nothing had been overlooked. (Let’s make sure we cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s.)
During the second hour of the meeting, the members were given two sets of four each individual sticky notes. The members were instructed to use these pads to help determine the priorities of the community attributes listed on one whiteboard, and the separate attributes for the pressures as listed on a second whiteboard. Those values and pressures that received the most sticky notes would have the highest priorities. Well, who could have guessed the outcome from such a Delphi experience? Lo and behold, the top three community values were sustainability, green infrastructure, and quality of life respectively. The top three pressures were climate change, residential and commercial development; and, agriculture and livestock grazing respectively. These are personal impressions, not science. Are these not the primary focus of the all too familiar effort for the increasing pressure that seems to grow in leaps and bounds on the ecosystem called property rights
? All too many meetings just like this one are just a small part of the increasing threat to our rights as citizens in the name of the environment and the collective.
This is just one example of these non-binding non-government organizations that seem to inundate our culture and government activity. Does it seem ironic that these non-binding findings are generated by professional, full time paid employees who are doing their “day” jobs? Where is the community effort? Where are the citizens and business members? Unsurprisingly, they are working at their
day jobs to pay the individuals sitting at these tables scheming to usurp our constitutionally protected natural rights, under the cover of environmentalism.
One of the scariest things is that this example is also going on without the full knowledge and approval of our own County Council. Funding for many of these groups does not pass through the council agenda, as they can be approved by County Department Heads or the County Executive. We all need to pay more attention to where the money is coming from and what it is being spent on.
The County Council should put the Whatcom Integration Team out of business by taking away their funding. This should be the WIT’s end.
A very important stormwater case was won in a federal court last week that people here need to know about.
The EPA has the authority to set "total maximum daily loads" (TMDL's) on pollution that degrades water quality. But the court made it clear that there's a distinction between setting a limit on source pollution and its means of transport
. EPA's legal problem in this case was that they were treating water itself like a pollutant.
In a nutshell, the State of Virginia argued that EPA has no authority to regulate stormwater volume since stormwater without any pollutants is not a pollution source
. (And EPA has no authority to regulate things that are not a pollutant or pollution sources.
) The Attorney General who fought the case explained it here
EPA has tried to regulate many things based on the presumption of an impact, but if there is not actual impact by the “delivery system” (water) that might carry pollutants, its jurisdiction is questionable. It was a valid argument, and it won. Here’s the judge’s rationale, exactly as published:
Does this case this matter here? Yes, absolutely. This ruling is crystal clear - "stormwater runoff is not a pollutant." WE expect that acknowledgement of this ruling will be fiercely resisted by state regulators and zealots who want to severely limit land use by humans, their pets, and livestock.
The Lake Whatcom situation provides a perfect example of how a bad approach to science – poor theory -- gets memorialized by regulators. The Department of Ecology's TMDL's for Lake Whatcom rely on model data using a program called ESPF, that uses a primitive fate-and-transport model to conclude that residential development
is the source
of most of the phosphorus in the lake. WA Ecology's 2008 Lake Whatcom TMDL "Water Quality Study Findings"
report repeatedly states that it employs "surrogate measures" to regulate pollutants.
So, TMDL's here are based on model,
not observed, data and stormwater is a surrogate (a substitute, or “proxy”) for pollutant (phosphorus) sources. This is very similar to the case decided in Virginia. In Virginia, the pollutant was "sediment," and here the pollutant is "phosphorus."
The preliminary Lake Whatcom TMDL study's conclusions were careful to include strong recommendations for additional tributary monitoring and additional studies of the contribution of phosphorus from developed properties. But those recommendations have been only partly followed.
Water quality measurements are taken, true - but the necessary identification of the sources
and impacts of the pollutants that stormwater actually carries (fate and transport) have not been conducted. Yet Ecology staff continues to feed water quality data into a model with circular dependencies, claiming that these results confirm the Institute for Watershed Studies conclusions.
As for phosphorus input to the lake, Ecology has estimated that the City of Bellingham's diversion from the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River contributes 300 Kg of phosphorus into the lake every year. The City acknowledges this phosphorus contribution, but asserts that most of the phosphorus sinks to the bottom of the lake and does no harm. That assertion needs to be proven.
Regulators here have been using a shotgun approach by damning stormwater
in general. Using the model may be a convenient "tool" for Ecology, but its results are invalid (and the TMDL's are moot) if causes and sources aren't properly studied.
Biochemistry has established that most phosphorus
in the environment occurs naturally. Therefore saying, "Where there's development, there's more
phosphorous" is absurd. This is particularly true because phosphorus-bearing products aren't being used nowadays; they were banned in the watershed in 2005
. Failing to thoroughly specify and quantify the sources of phosphorus around the lake is not only bad ecological science, Ecology's failure to prove the connection between sources and pollutant TMDL's could be downright negligent.
As for the Virginia case, EPA does not like losing in court. It has an endless supply of taxpayer money, and it’s likely that the agency will continue to fight the State of Virginia. But for the moment, this is what it is – a big win for science and reason.
More about the case can be found at the Virginia Attorney General's webpage
. Here’s a clip:
"EPA had previously issued an edict that would cut the flow of water into the creek by nearly half, in an effort to address the sediment flow on the bottom of the creek. In regulating the flow rate of stormwater into the creek, the agency was trying to regulate water itself as a pollutant, rather than the sediment. The attorney general challenged the EPA's action as exceeding the agency's legal authority to regulate pollutants under the Clean Water Act (CWA). These restrictions also would have diverted public funds that could be spent more effectively on stream restoration for Accotink Creek and other waterways in the region.
Judge Liam O'Grady agreed with co-plaintiffs VDOT (represented by the attorney general) and Fairfax County, saying in his ruling that federal law simply does not grant EPA the authority it claims. The Clean Water Act gives the EPA the authority to establish TMDLs - Total Maximum Daily Loads - regulating maximum acceptable levels of pollutants that may be discharged on a daily basis into a particular waterway. The problem for the EPA is that water is not a pollutant under the CWA. "The Court sees no ambiguity in the wording of [the federal Clean Water Act]. EPA is charged with establishing TMDLs for the appropriate pollutants; that does not give them the authority to regulate nonpollutants," O'Grady said.
"EPA's thinking here was that if Congress didn't explicitly prohibit the agency from doing something, that meant it could, in fact, do it," said Cuccinelli. "Logic like that would lead the EPA to conclude that if Congress didn't prohibit it from invading Mexico, it had the authority to invade Mexico. This incredibly flawed thinking would have allowed the agency to dramatically expand its power at its own unlimited discretion. Today, the court said otherwise."
EPA also claimed that it could regulate water flow because it was a surrogate measure for regulating sediment. To that argument, Judge O'Grady responded, "EPA may not regulate something over which it has no statutorily granted power... as a proxy for something over which it is granted power." He continued, "If the sediment levels in Accotink Creek have become dangerously high, what better way to address the problem than by limiting the amount of sediment permitted in the creek?"
"Stormwater runoff is not a pollutant, so EPA is not authorized to regulate it," O'Grady said.
"EPA was literally treating water itself--the very substance the Clean Water Act was created to protect--as a pollutant," the attorney general noted. "This EPA mandate would have been expensive, cumbersome, and incredibly difficult to implement. And it was likely to do more harm than good, as its effectiveness was unproven and it would have diverted hundreds of millions of dollars Fairfax County was already targeting for more effective methods of sediment control."
A copy of the court's opinion can be found here.