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.
Don't let this slip by. Get involved.
A dedicated forester reaches out for public involvement. (For more background on this story, read a few prior dredges: here
, and here
.)Dear Friends of Working Forest,
Your help is needed to make sure our voices are heard by the Whatcom County Council, so they are not pressured to reconvey almost 9,000 of commercial forest lands in the Lake Whatcom watershed for a "low impact" park. The involvement and attendance by so many of you at the September 11th hearing convinced the County Executive and Council to further review the proposed reconveyance. A series of work meetings between the Council and Parks Director are being planned.
Tentatively these meetings will be held during the "Council Committee of the Whole" session, when the following subjects will be discussed. The first meeting on January 15th will be at 9:30 am in the council chambers.
January 15th The overall conceptual park plan and the recreation aspects of the plan for the Lake Whatcom lands.
January 29th Forestry consideration when the county controls these forest. What type of forest management plans and how to implement by the county? Councilman's Crawford proposal to keep some of the area available for forest management.
February 12th A fiscal discussion of the proposed reconveyance.
You will need to check the Council web site for meeting times. They will be open to the public, but most likely not offer a chance for public comments. A good way for input would be an e-mail note to the council at firstname.lastname@example.org before each of these sessions, asking questions and making comments on the particular subject. You could also give 3 minute comments at "Open Session" at their evening meeting.
Besides not fully vetting and addressing questions about the proposed reconveyance of these working forests, they have given little consideration to any alternatives. One obvious alternative would leave this land under DNR management, so it could continue to produce timber revenue under the Landscape Plan. Then the county could engage DNR, other private timber land owners, recreation users and others to developed recreation strategies that could greatly expand diverse recreation opportunities even beyond the watershed. We all know that working forest lands can provide great low cost recreation, protect water and wildlife resources, while still being managed for timber revenues.
Please consider becoming involved again in this discussion and feel free to forward this notice to other interested citizens. Contact me if you have any questions.
Thanks for your help,
This isn't a local story, but it has local object lessons -- and links all up and down the left coast.
Environmental zealots in the federal government have successfully put another productive family business out of business, as the Washington Post
SAN FRANCISCO — An historic Northern California oyster farm along Point Reyes National Seashore will be shut down and the site converted to a wilderness area, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced on Thursday.
Salazar said he will not renew the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. lease that expires Friday. The move will bring a close to a yearslong environmental battle over the site. (Continue reading...)
Back in September, we covered the plight of a small oyster farm in Drakes Estero in Marin County, California. With respect to government bullying and scientific misconduct, that story sounds eerily like our own. To top it all off, the local band of environmental zealots down there (Environmental Action Committee of West Marin) is headed by none other than Amy Trainer, the former in-house attorney for the Friends. Small world.
The accusatory environmental narrative leveled at the oyster farm is essentially identical to the one put forward by the Friends against homeowners here. Funny how that is, don't you think?
Back in September, everyone was waiting for Interior Secretary Salazar to make his decision on whether to shut down the oyster farm or let it continue operating. His decision came down today: he is ordering the shut-down and removal of the oyster farm, which has been in the Estero for about 90 years. (Continue reading...)
But wait, there's more!
Meanwhile, last week in a left-hand/right-hand maneuver, lame duck Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire invoked an executive order
commanding that the state use its powers to reduce ocean acidification to protect
shellfish (and shellfish farming operations). Naturally, it all ties back to everyone's favorite bogeyman, anthropogenic carbon dioxide. Ignoring all benefits of carbon dioxide, which is necessary for life, the order exaggerates still hypothetical (and permanently non-falsifiable
) risks. Once again our agencies are being pressed by politicians to increase regulations that will curb freedom without objective scientific justification
All the talk of "blue ribbon" panels is nothing more than rubber stamps by the high priests of the environmental religion. And therefrom, real people lose their jobs, and national prosperity diminishes measurably at the hands of these first amendment violators. These infringements on our freedom are being implemented at all levels of government.
Rampant environmental hysteria is being stirred up by collectivists, and otherwise sensible people fall for it, with devastating results. Too few people remember what it was like, and what it means to live in a free country. We need to restore those principles back into our education and our media. The environment will be better for it too.
WE have raised alarm
repeatedly that Salazar
and the BLM are headed up the coast, our way, swinging a wrecking ball through the San Juans. Still think their programs present no risk?
The last chance for verbal public input on the environmental impact study scoping for the Gateway Pacific Terminal
was held Thursday, November 29 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m in Ferndale. Opponents were livid that paid supporters hijacked
the hearing process. WE are not aware of any paid or bused-in support, but WEthinks opponents doth protest too much. WE don't approve of the tactic, but it is hardly a novel idea, and it is frequently used by 'progressive' interests. Turnabout is fair play. See Alinsky's Rule #4.
In any event, WE heard from supporters for about three hours, including local mayors
and city council members who feel that their constituents would be well served by the Gateway Pacific Terminal.
For the final hour, a steady supply of opponents greatly exaggerated the dangers of burning coal, coal dust, diesel particulates, etc., while ignoring the terrifying risks posed by the chemical dihydrogen monoxide
Despite the danger, dihydrogen monoxide is often used:
Large sections of the proposed terminal will be immersed (that's right, immersed
) in this hazardous chemical, which is responsible for the deaths of countless humans and endangered species alike, yet nobody seems to be very concerned about it.*
All kidding aside, the Gateway Pacific Terminal is a big project, and area residents may be affected both positively and negatively. To ensure that people and the environment receive due diligence, WE prefer objective science, the rule of law, and rational risk assessment over the "precautionary principle", which is merely a reasonable-sounding expression for environmental histrionics.
Click above (goes to turbine noise video)
Let's use the top line to talk about the bottom line. Wind power is economically unsustainable
. The sustainability folks are pushing for wind power because they think it's renewable and environmentally sustainable. Think again
The number of windmills that would be required to produce sufficient energy for peak demand in worst-case, calm weather conditions would require swarms of these things, waving their arms from practically every hill crest on every square mile of land in the USA. That's during the day. At night, the endless array of flashing red air navigation hazard lights just looks creepy. In addition to the visual blight, the environmental impact of these ugly creatures would be significant and detrimental. And, that doesn't account for the corridors and rights-of-way for electrical power lines necessary to transport their electrical output from the rural areas to the masses huddled in the urban infill areas. It is only a matter of time before there will be significant blow-back against these wind machines from landowners and environmentalists alike.
Contrast that with hydro power which, where available, can produce and store abundant renewable and clean energy for peak demand, in addition to providing flood control, self-supporting recreational areas, water supply and so on. What's more, hydro power
is much less expensive per kilowatt hour than wind power. Guess which technology the sustainables
want to demolish and rewild!There is a 7 PM county council meeting on Wednesday November 7th at the County Courthouse
at 311 Grand Avenue to discuss and vote on the revised wind turbine ordinance. It is expected that the council will vote on the ordinance at this meeting. This has come up because people want to install wind generators at the top of Galbraith Mountain.
Given the economic and environmental unsustainability, why would anybody want a permit to install one of these things? Ah, yes well don't you see, there's the rub: the sustainables
have managed to sink their mandibles into government to the extent that government will subsidize these wind generators. Unscrupulous opportunists will glom onto these government subsidies to line their pockets at taxpayer expense. So we will pay twice: once at the electric meter, and again on tax day.
have also co-opted government to place all sorts of rules and regulations to prevent the kinds of development that they
oppose. WE submit that they need to live by their own rules
. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If you possibly can, WE encourage you to attend the council meeting on Wednesday
, and encourage the council to keep the restrictions at their current levels.
Note: residential windmills might actually be of some value. On windy days, they can save homeowners on their power bills, and maybe even turn their electric meter backwards on occasion. If individual families want to invest in something like that, WE have no objection -- although there probably are zoning rules against it.
Beyond their lights and noise, these inevitably batter all kinds of creatures that live in the air. The monster machines can and do fail - in storms, icing, turbine speed brake failures, and outright collapse. Watch some of these:
WE saw this a couple of days ago and felt it was worth sharing as widely as possible. It's a frank, honest view of local clean energy that's loaded with common sense.
Clean energy is a good thing. Who in their right mind would want dirty energy? Whatever your political stripe it's one thing everybody agrees about.
This is a good read, better yet the facts check out. Yes, critics may say it comes from a politician, but Ericksen's kinda unique. He received a bachelor’s degree in government from Cornell University, and a master’s degree in political science and environmental policy from Western Washington University. He's no slouch where it comes to finding solutions.
A Fresh, Forward-thinking and Affordable Energy Strategy, October 26, 2012
by WA Senator Doug Ericksen
Hello Whatcom County,
Electricity is absolutely vital to our daily lives. If a tragedy struck and one of our major roadways was shut down, services could be provided while the road was rebuilt. On the other hand, if the electrical grid were to fail, our society could collapse within a matter of days.
I use this example not to provoke fear, but rather to underscore the importance of our state approaching energy policy in a rational, forward-thinking manner. With this week's Blueprint for a Better Washington, we'll look at what we're doing right on energy, and where fresh ideas could keep electricity costs low and our energy grid reliable, while encouraging innovations to move us towards energy independence.
- 81 percent of the power produced in Washington comes from clean sources
- 73 percent comes from hydroelectric
- 8 percent comes from nuclear
- Washington has the 3rd lowest retail electricity cost in the U.S.
- Washington has the 9th smallest carbon footprint in the U.S.
- Washington's Renewable Portfolio Standards mandate that a percentage of energy come from "renewable sources", but fails to recognize hydroelectric power as renewable
- Examples of eligible renewable sources allowed by the measure include wind, solar and biomass
- Utilities are mandated to increase the percentage of power they provide to customers derived from renewable sources to 15 percent by 2020
- The current renewable requirement is three percent
- As utilities increase the amount of power generated from less efficient sources, the cost of power increases and reliability decreases
The solution - my guiding principles for energy policy in Washington state:
As Washingtonians, we are fortunate to live in a state where a remarkable 81 percent of the power generated in our state comes from clean sources. Not only is our power clean, it's also relatively inexpensive. Let's take a look at how we can continue forward-thinking energy policies without compromising existing resources and without increasing your utility bills.
- Focus first on cost to the consumer - technology should lead to lower prices, not higher costs for families
- Keep a level playing field that encourages innovation - provide tax incentives for all energy producers to become more efficient instead of allowing government to pick winners and losers
- Invest in research and development - provide resources for our universities to develop new technologies
Clean, reliable and inexpensive - what's powering Washington
Currently, our state enjoys reliable and affordable power from a mix of sources that is the envy of many states in the nation. As you can see in the below chart, the vast majority of the power generated in Washington comes from clean sources like hydro and nuclear that emit no greenhouse gases.
Keep in mind that many states still rely primarily on coal for their energy needs. Wyoming gets over 90 percent of their power from coal and in Indiana, coal accounts for over 95 percent.
Hydroelectric power is clean, affordable and reliable. The sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow, but our rivers run constantly. Nuclear energy is similarly reliable and affordable.
Renewable Portfolio Standards - social engineering for energy
With good intentions, Washington adopted Renewable Portfolio Standards to encourage investments in alternative energy sources. Of course, the devil is always in the details and as the RPS was further studied, two things became obvious. First, the law deliberately excluded hydroelectric power, despite the fact that hydro provides reliable, clean and cost-efficient energy. Second, moving to less-efficient energy sources such as solar and wind power would raise utility bills - perhaps substantially.
Every year since the RPS was adopted, legislation has been brought forward to modify the standards. Those efforts have all been met with stiff resistance from supporters of the law who insist that moving to new energy sources is worth the higher utility bills and less reliable power. Here are the phased-in targets utilities must hit for usage of energy from eligible renewable sources such as solar and wind:
Make no mistake - increasing the use of alternative energy will raise utility bills. The next legislative session will be crucial, as utilities will have to make substantial investments to meet future benchmarks. If changes aren't made next year, they probably won't be made.
The irony is that states like California are purchasing our hydropower to meet their renewable energy standards. If the RPS goes unchanged, we'll be selling more clean hydroelectric energy to other states, only to replace it with alternative sources that are more expensive, less reliable and no more environmentally friendly. It just doesn't make any sense.
Encouraging innovation everywhere - leveling the playing field
Government shouldn't be in the businesses of picking winners and losers in any industry, much less one as crucial as energy. On the federal level, we've seen the pitfalls of selective government investment with the now-infamous example of Solyndra, the alternative energy company that received $535 million in taxpayer subsidies and promptly declared bankruptcy.
To be clear, tax incentives are available for traditional energy suppliers, such as oil companies, to expand and update existing facilities. The difference is that oil companies pay billions in taxes each year. By comparison, alternative energy producers working in wind or solar power receive so much in subsidies that their operations pay little or no taxes.
We know that incentives are a more effective tool than mandates for changing behavior. State government should be providing tax incentives for all energy producers to become more efficient and move us closer to being energy independent.
A real-world problem - and a positive solution
This isn't just an abstract issue; it's playing out across the state right now. As an example, Benton Public Utility District in Eastern Washington has plenty of power to meet its needs for years to come, but due to our Renewable Portfolio Standards, it will need to spend between $1.5 million and $3 million each year for energy produced elsewhere that qualifies as renewable under the law. Instead of the utility buying hydropower that costs around $28 per megawatt-hour, it will have to buy wind power that runs between $75 and $125. Of course, the PUD doesn't absorb the difference, it has to pass it onto customers in the form of higher rates.
Fortunately, awareness of the issue is being raised and people are coming together in an attempt to change the law and allow some flexibility by recognizing hydroelectric power as a renewable resource. Below is a link to a Tri-City Herald article that details a September press conference held by POWER, a regional group trying to build consensus for common-sense energy policy.
The fact is that we need a long-term vision for energy independence based on today's realities. Currently, many alternative energy sources cost more, are less reliable and require significant government subsidies. In the next session, I'll be sponsoring legislation that will:
We can make investments in emerging energy sources without compromising what we have. You can count on me to fight for keeping our utility bills affordable and our clean hydroelectric power here in Washington.
- Modify Washington's Renewable Portfolio Standards to recognize hydropower as renewable
- Keep utility bills at our relatively-low rates
- Maintain our reliable energy production
- Invest in nuclear energy and energy grid improvements
- Fund research and development of emerging technology through our universities
Stay in touch
Thanks for your continued interest in improving state government. I appreciate all the feedback I've received and I always welcome your thoughts, questions or concerns. Feel free to contact me by email at email@example.com or by phone at my Olympia office at (360) 786-7682. It's an honor to be working for the people of Whatcom County and representing you in the state Senate.
Take care and God bless, Doug Ericksen
Washington State Senator, 42nd District
Olympia office: (360) 786-7682
Web site: www.SenatorEricksen.com
WE can't help but wonder, what gives with all the food crisis talk lately, scaring the devil out of people? Well it all goes hand-in-hand with peak oil and global warming/climate change of course.
Religious fanatic, or environmental extremist? What's the difference?
Right here, today ... "Climate Change & the Future of Food"? Adaptation Strategies? Like what? Check out the invite:
Notes and Links:
MRC is the Marine Resources Committee
of Whatcom County; here's the link to Whatcom Conservation District
. WE understand that Whatcom County Public Works will be there, as well. Planners, planners, and more planners. 'Wonder if council is aware of what these agencies are doing. Readers need to know that WWIN
, Whatcom Watersheds Information Network, is a private organization with a persona that makes it look
like it's an official "agency" but like so many others it's not (they seek to advise anyone who will listen, sharing their
view of what's best for everyone else).
There's way to much "volunteer visioning" going on these days, do you think? There's been one "workshop" or "community meeting" after another, most entirely one-sided, pre-programmed consensus
affairs principally run by advocates and proponents. WE dredged and it seems that this event's organizers Kilanowski and Jimerson are doubling up, tied to both WSU "Carbon Masters
WWIN (like WSU's Blake). Special interests galore, most funded by tax dollars and grants. Think there would be any spin
at an event like this? Nothing but.Commentary:All Hail the Nanny State
! You know, all this wouldn't bother me so much if it was left to the earnest but crazy guy on the street corner, holding the "repent!" sign. It's his
job, and his first amendment right to convince me to repent, and it's my job and my right to decide if I need what he's selling, or not. The non-establishment clause of the first amendment prevents him from co-opting government into forcing me to join his religion -- at least the Judeo-Christian ones, it seems. Increasingly today though, we have social justice and environmental prophets who are seemingly immune from the non-establishment clause, digging their tendrils ever deeper into my personal affairs. They have all the trappings of a faith-based religion, except the name.
They wrap themselves in the garb of science, but all they have done is trade traditional vestments for a lab coat, with none of the objective scientific rigor. Put your money where your mouth is! Do what it takes to give me reliably reproducible science. Maybe then I'll join your cause -- not your religion. But attempts to coerce me by the force of government is only going to make me, and more people than you may realize, resentful and reactionary. Just gimme some truth
! Signed, Publius
Science realists, conservation challengers, climate change skeptics, anyone who dares to suggest that greenhouse gas emission goals are a load of hot air ... not getting with the program? No pressure. (HAPPY HALLOWEEN)
(Not for the faint-hearted, or under-18 crowd)
FYI - this, believe it or not, was produced and released some time ago in Europe as an effort named 10:10 Global.org. It was intended to bring humor to the eco-activist cause, but it created such an uproar it's been pulled (blocked) repeatedly. It disappears [KABOOM!] from YouTube due to (no pressure!) "political correctness." But it keeps popping back up.
It's good to know that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case about land use mitigation fees. What's really important, it's a case that involves mitigation demands related to a "wetland" that look like clear-cut extortion.
For more than ten years, Whatcom County has established a growing number of regulations, policies, and plans based on environmental theory.
And our Planning & Development Services department operates on the assumption that all land within the county's boundaries - both public and private
- is a "natural resource" that the county has not only the right but a duty to manage. An increasing number of permit approvals require "mitigation." In most cases, little tangible scientific proof of harm done is proven by the government itself. Planners glibly write about creating regulatory "tool boxes" to expand the public use of private property. How justifiable is their stance?
Citizens' private land (or the use of their land) should not be taken wrongfully, without site-specific proof that damage has occurred or will occur. On-site and off-site mitigation, if justified, should be soundly based on facts and be proportionate to impact.
The general demand for agricultural, watershed
and wetlands "protection" and restoration, and for numerous other kinds of public use (such as transportation and recreation), is expanding here in leaps and bounds
without the specificity it should. Whatcom County legal's opinion always leans in favor of expanding county powers - but is that constitutionally correct?
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Koontz family as it may, could this case make a difference? Yes, absolutely. Watch the video below.Background, from Pacific Legal Foundation:
PLF's new case at the Supreme Court asks: Can government extort money from property owners?
The Koontz family merely wanted to develop the family's land in legal and responsible ways," said PLF Principal Attorney Paul J. Beard II, who wrote the successful petition asking the Supreme Court to take the case. "But the St. Johns River Water Management District saw a chance to make all kinds of unrelated, outrageous demands."
In particular, the agency demanded that the Koontz family pay for up to $150,000 in improvements on 50 acres of the district's own land --- miles away from the Koontz property!
"This permit condition bore no connection to the project that Mr. Koontz proposed," said Beard.
"This is a classic case of an unconstitutional shakedown. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that government can't use the permitting process to extract conditions that aren't related to the impact of the proposed development."
As PLF supporters know, that ruling came in PLF's 1987 victory, Nollan v. California Coastal Commission. In this new case, we're asking the Court to rein in agencies that ignore Nollan --- and to make it clear that Nollan forbids extortion of money, not just real property.