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Bill passed helps ‘environmental protection’ turn into a lucrative business

Posted 3/18/2014
In the dark of night, while most folks were sleeping – oblivious – a piece of legislation that only had its “first reading” in Olympia twelve days ago passed by a vote of 93-5. This little slip of a bill, a mere three pages, will kick the principles of justice and liberty as we know them closer to the proverbial cliff.

      That sounds mighty dramatic, maybe over the top.  What’s this bill about?

Waal…  HB 2454 is a bill that paves the way for “water quality trading” in Washington State. Painted as accommodating and innovative, and dressed-up as so many bills are nowadays in predictable, wolf in sheep’s clothing buzzwords like “voluntary” and “market-based,” the legislature is setting up tables in the temple of environmental justice for the sale of Get Out Of Jail Free cards.  Instead of nabbing those who pollute, and correcting real problems appropriately, this bill says:

Trading programs allow facilities facing higher pollution control costs to meet their regulatory obligations by purchasing environmentally equivalent or superior pollution reductions from another source at a lower cost.

(and later…)

Specifically, the state conservation commission should examine watersheds in which total maximum daily loads have been produced, and assess whether there are potential buyers, or permit holders, and sellers of credit to support a water quality trading program consistent with the water quality trading framework developed by the department of ecology.

How convenient. Instead of confronting and solving water quality problems (and let’s call a spade a spade here, bad water quality means POLLUTION, are WE right?) the Conservation Commission and Washington Ecology will be tasked with exploring ways to trade these sins away.  HUH?  Figure it out. Dense places that pollute the most can buy their way out of trouble by locking down large expanses of clean land, agriculture, or better still pay for trendy recreation and renovation projects whether they’re useful or not. That would suit a lot of city obsessives, particularly the growth management lobby. The “restoration” industry will go for it, along with the land trusts, water trusts, and mitigation banks like this new one – all so anxious make sales. Lock-down land, grow bureaucracy, pick-up big contracts, and accommodate deep pocket polluters through perpetual extortion – what a deal!! Is that not what the EPA and 17 states have been selling?  It looks good in booklets, but it is what it is – typically out of proportion and not solving much.

Whether we need it or not, “environmental protection” is one whale of a lucrative business around here. The potential for corruption and exaggerated “environmental needs assessment” is real; that’s obvious. WE ask – how much does this kind of thing achieve in making Whatcom County or Washington State a better place?  A cleaner place?  More productive, healthier?  And, how can greed be kept out of these institutionalized staff-driven goldmines? WA Commerce has been promoting regional TDR’s (transfers of development rights) between counties to help grow cities that don’t keep their own acts clean.

As things are already, good and decent stewards of healthy rural land find themselves thanklessly hobbled like lambs tied to stakes – cautioned not to turn a shovel of dirt, or farm without a plan.  It’s the devil being spied on and watched over, having to obtain say-so first from the lairds and keepers. Is there no end to the scope and scale of this state’s “environmental” lock-downs and the institutional coveting of ever-more private property?  Water quality – uh – pollution trades…  What a load of hypocrisy.

WE have reported on quite a few stories just like this in the last couple of years, like the abysmally vague and scientifically vacant “natural resources marketplace,” the greedy interests that underpinned and promoted the DNR reconveyance, and how local watershed planning has been hijacked by a greedy local monopoly and the Puget Sound Partnership. There’s little question that the growing web spun by bureaucrats and bankers (and the barking left) have no intention of giving up.  The road back has got to be guided by common sense.

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