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Agency metering rule to require mitigation fees, legality questionable

Posted 6/27/2012

Editor,

On June 28 at 6 pm Ecology will hold the public hearing on the WRIA 18 East rule at the Sequim Community Church, 950 North Fifth Avenue in Sequim.  Everyone interested should attend and provide comments by July 9 to awes461@ecy.wa.gov .  Details can be found at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/instream-flows/dungeness-rule.html .

 

This rule requires well metering and mitigation payments in the thousands of dollars for all new construction east of Morse Creek.

State law requires that for any rule economic benefits must exceed costs.  For this rule Ecology assumes benefits of over $20 million each for “avoided litigation” (none has been threatened) and protection of past investment in salmon restoration (such investment was made on its own merits, without this rule being in place).  Without these $40+ million in assumed benefits the rule does not pass legal muster under RCW 34.05.328 (1)(d).

 

Ecology’s own in-house economist on March 19 wrote in a memorandum to the rule making team: “This is a formal notification to the WRIA 18 rule writers that the evaluated Draft Rule presented on March 15 for the Dungeness watershed does not meet the legal requirements outline in RCW 34.05.328 (1)(d) of the Administrative Procedures Act.” Two days later he wrote to his supervisor: “If you are directing me how the analysis should be written, I would have to say you are asking me to break the law. I intend to keep my professional integrity intact despite … ignoring the economic evidence and pressure to make me do unlawful things.” Two days after that he was removed from the team.

Kaj Ahlburg,
Port Angeles, WA

 

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