Lands commissioner fields barrage of questions during Port Angeles gathering – PDN

Glad to hear that Ms. Franz is out and circulating in the rural areas, getting feedback on her department’s plans. While this meeting may have been more talk than action, there needs to be talk first before action. We have far too much action without talk going on Washington D.C. these days. It seems that she prefers to listen, talk  and then make decisions.

The state Department of Natural Resources’ newest leader visited Port Angeles last week to unveil her agency’s newest initiative: a competitive technical staff assistance program to help rural communities develop their DNR assets. What recently elected state Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz received Thursday at a Clallam County Courthouse meeting packed with about 80 participants was an earful on topics ranging from unpredictable timber revenues to developing scuba-diving recreation opportunities. Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/lands-commissioner-fields-barrage-of-questions-during-port-angeles-gathering/

 

British Columbia Green Party shakes the vote

Expanding their reach from 1 to 3 members of Parliament, the BC Green party under the leadership of Andrew Weaver, has shaken BC politics to it’s core. The current situation after the vote showed Premiere Christie Clark losing her majority and having to form the first minority government in 65 years. Credit the Green Party for this change.

The Greens have obviously brought better candidates to the election, and some races are still too close to call. But Clark was clear that she is going to be governing from a minority position.

It is great to see a party that has been unable to bring significant candidates that can win to a position to influence the ability to govern. The tradeoffs to be made to allow Clark to continue governing means that the environment and other key Green issues, are going to be heard in a new and more significant way.

I like Vaughn Palmer’s take on the outcome.

Vaughn Palmer: Not sure who won yet, but Christy Clark definitely lost

Dear Scott Pruitt, you’re making a mockery of the EPA – Crosscut & KING 5

A strong letter to the  new EPA leader by a long time senior staffer, who just resigned.

However, I, and many staff, firmly believe the policies this Administration is advancing are contrary to what the majority of the American people, who pay our salaries, want EPA to accomplish, which are to ensure the air their children breath is safe; the land they live, play, and hunt on to be free of toxic chemicals; and the water they drink, the lakes they swim in, and the rivers they fish in to be clean.

Read the whole short piece at Crosscut. By the way, while you are there, donate a small bit to help continue their efforts. They run this great news source on a shoestring.

http://crosscut.com/2017/04/epa-worker-seattle-letter-to-scott-pruitt/

 

 

‘Job-killing regulations’ mantra and reality – Seattle Times

Regulations don’t kill jobs as much as shift them around. That doesn’t mean rules can’t cause pain locally. But an ill-advised rollback of regulations likely wouldn’t create many jobs, though it would increase dangers to health and the planet. Jon Talton writes. (Seattle Times)

http://www.seattletimes.com/business/job-killing-regulations-mantra-and-reality/

EVENT: Farm Bureau to present on Hirst Decision 4/12 @7PM Chimicum Grange

Al Latham just alerted me that a fellow from the Farm Bureau will be doing a presentation on the Hirst Decision (on building permits and water rights) and current legislative activity around exempt wells at the Chimacum Grange, 7pm Wed April 12.

What is the Hirst Decision? It’s an extremely important new ruling that addresses an ongoing battle over development vs. water rights. Let me copy from the Dept of Ecology web site:

“A recent Washington State Supreme Court decision has changed how counties decide to approve or deny building permits that use wells for a water source.

In the Whatcom County vs. Hirst, Futurewise, et al. decision (often referred to as the Hirst decision), the court ruled that the county failed to comply with the Growth Management Act (GMA) requirements to protect water resources. The ruling requires the county to make an independent decision about legal water availability.

Background

We protect rivers and streams across the state by creating instream flow rules, which set the amount of water necessary for protecting fish, wildlife and recreation. In 1985, we adopted an instream flow rule for the Nooksack River (WAC 173-501) in Whatcom County. This rule closed most streams in the watershed to new water right permits but allowed landowners to use permit-exempt wells in most of the area. Whatcom County’s development regulations followed our instream flow rule.

A reliable, year-round supply of water is necessary for new homes or developments. Before the Oct. 6, 2016, court decision, many counties relied on what the Department of Ecology said about whether year-round water was available. This court decision changes that – counties now have to make their own decisions about whether there is enough water, physically and legally, to approve a building permit that would rely on a well.

Impacts

The case directly relates to Whatcom County but appears to set legal precedent that applies in other counties where there are instream flow rules that were not intended to regulate permit-exempt water uses. It is unclear how the decision affects areas of the state where there are no instream flow rules. Counties are working to review the decision and what it means for them. Contact your county’s building, planning or health departments if you have questions about how the Hirst decision may affect you.

Key points

  • Science has shown that rivers and streams are generally connected to groundwater. The Washington State Supreme Court said that water is not legally available if a new well would impact a protected river or stream, or an existing senior water right.
  • If your county determines that water is not legally available for your new use, the county would not be able to approve your building permit – even if you have already drilled a well.
  • We are providing technical assistance to counties as they determine their next steps. Our priority will be to provide information about the status of stream closures and instream flows.
  • Anyone with questions about how the decision affects them should contact their county government.

 

Climate change, rural growth are priorities for new Washington lands commissioner – Seattle Times

The state’s newly elected lands commissioner says her top priorities will be to find ways to strengthen local rural economies and to prepare state lands and communities to deal with climate change. Hilary Franz, an environmental attorney who beat out retired Navy commander Steve McLaughlin, will take over the helm at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in January from two-term commissioner Peter Goldmark. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/climate-change-rural-growth-are-priorities-for-new-washington-lands-commissioner/

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s Industry Pick for the E.P.A. – New Yorker

The new Trump Administration declares war on the environment with this nomination.

Garvin Isaacs, the president of the Oklahoma Bar Association, isn’t one for understatement, but he topped himself in his reaction to the news that Donald Trump is expected to nominate Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, to run the Environmental Protection Agency…. Isaacs is a colorful and respected local litigator who has long been a thorn in the side of Oklahoma’s powerful. He claims the fossil-fuel industry “owns the whole darn state.” But his worries at the state level are now national. By choosing Pruitt, Isaacs said, Trump has outsourced his environmental policy to the Republican Party’s most powerful private donors—the oil-and-gas magnates who have funded Pruitt’s campaigns in Oklahoma. Jane Mayer reports. (New Yorker)

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/scott-pruitt-trumps-industry-pick-for-the-e-p-a

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