Legislative Update

by Jack Hamilton

Here in Kitsap – Living with our own “Rubber Chickens”

Bill Palmer has given us great insight into the mediation additive for the Hearing Examiner process. Unfortunately, even that process does not restore any backbone to the “rubber chickens” that represent us as Commissioners.

Instead of doing the right thing and overriding the Hearing Examiner on the South Kitsap Montessori School issue, even with compelling evidence of error on the Examiner’s part, the “brave hearts of Kitsap” remanded the issue to the Examiner. What those three won’t do to avoid taking a position that might cost them a vote is beyond belief.

If we anticipate any level of personal or moral courage from any of the three we best rethink our hopes and dreams. I wonder if the “fearsome threesome” would be interested in sending Rural Interim Forest regulations to a mediator with land owners on one side and that entire opposition group with no vested interest on the other side. That might not work out so well for the “no-growth” guys and the “every tree is sacred” crowd.

The County has posted the East Kitsap Near-shore Study to the web site in preparation for commencing the Shoreline Management Plan update. The study carries the stamp of approval of the prestigious Battelle Laboratories.

The study is being offered as solid scientific work and to be used as the basis for the SMP update work. (Battelle did not participate in the data collection and does not really certify the results of the study as accurate) Hey wait a minute. Isn’t this the same study that, when previously asked, the County said would not be used for legislative purposes?

Isn’t this the same study that involved “data collection” by a number of people ‘instantly’ qualified as shore line surveyors and who walked some part of the beach looking at bulkheads and developments?

Is this the same study that purports to be directed at the near-shore habitat for fingerling salmon but never looked in the water for that habitat?

What a surprise that a “scientific” study of this quality, dressed up in the finest Power Point presentation livery, now becomes an “official” scientific tome.

It also looks like Patty Charnas has replaced Jim Bolger as the resident expert in “Best available science.” How fortunate for us that we have this stable of highly qualified experts to plan our futures for us.

If there might be some question about being a bit harsh with the “rubber chicken” trio, please note the response on their part to having to rescind a county ordinance to be in compliance with state law.

The state says it is perfectly all right for a person to openly carry a weapon in parks and prohibits county governments from enacting any prohibition on that right. Kitsap has long fought the right but when caught between the law and litigation they reluctantly “lifted” the local ban.

Please note that the county had no authority to enact the ban and were specifically prohibited by law from doing so. Apparently when the “guardians of our future” don’t agree with the law they believe they have the right to ignore it right up to the point of being carted into court.

On the other hand, any law or regulation that might be interpreted in any manner to support one of their agenda items is considered as inviolate and exploited to the maximum extent.

Can there be any doubt that the “If you don’t like it, sue us” philosophy is the guiding principle for legislative action in this county.

In the State and Region

As Tim Matthes noted in his recent comments, KAPO has prepared and presented a detailed review of the pending Transportation 2040 DEIS (draft environmental impact statement).

In a departure from our previous submissions, the detailed review comments are accompanied by a very specific transportation planning oversight comment section and a extensive set of comments on the overall planning philosophical approach linking both land use and transportation (Transportation 2040 and Vision 2040).

While there is little reason to stay up at night hoping that PSRC will see the light, the input document goes a long step beyond a simple commentary and directly challenges the technical process, the underlying philosophy, the planning assumptions, and the models and methodologies employed by PSRC to reach the conclusions that are offered in Transportation 2040.

One clear example of the failed thinking at both the state and PSRC is evident in the approach to “limiting” CO2 emissions. Here is an extract from the PSRC Transportation 2040 comments that address the nature of the failed thinking.

A simple analysis of the energy related issues as required by emissions standards established by law, requirements for electric vehicles, and the increase in region transportation needs appropriate to the projected population and economic growth produces a conundrum not addressed in the Transportation 2040 plan.

Population data (US Census Estimates 2008)

    King 1,875,519
    Kitsap 239,769
    Pierce 785,639
    Snohomish 683,655
    Total 3,584,582

Miles per person (2007) = 8,697 (WADOT Figures)

Miles in PUGET SOUND REGIONAL COUNCIL – 31,175,109,654 miles per year

Gasoline consumption @30 MPG =1,039,170,321 gallons per year (US CAFÉ standards)

Assuming no major scientific breakthrough to reduce the outcome of the hydrocarbon oxidation process, the equivalent gasoline quantity that would support the reductions required by law in year 2020 (about 16 percent) and 2035 (about 36 percent) would lower miles driven to 26,187,092,109 (2020) and 19,952,070,178.

That reduction, in turn relates to removing 537,533 vehicles by (2020) and about 1,290,450 vehicles by 2035. Unfortunately, while the reduction from the 2007 base is in progress, population increases continue and with them the need for vehicles.

With a growth of 1.5 million people in the horizon period and using the same PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE (POV) to individual ratio existing today, the numbers are much higher. Using a straight line growth estimate within the horizon period an additional 50,000 cars per year would have to be entirely eliminated to meet the emissions reduction criteria.

The effective elimination of approximately 115,000 emission creating vehicles per year and replacing their transportation capability with non-emitting vehicles is not addressed. The number of electric or hybrid vehicles required, on an annual basis, is approximately one-half the current world production of those vehicles that might serve as substitute vehicles.

The current and forecasted availability of the raw materials for Lithium-Ion batteries, the current power storage devices for electric and hybrid cars, does not support a massive increase in production of either batteries or vehicles.

In addition, the current supply of those materials on the world market is primarily from China and Argentina, not necessarily strong trade or defense allies of the United States. How PSRC is to meet the objectives and at what cost, while in competition with the rest of the state and the rest of the nation, is not identified in the plan.

In addition to the simple logic of direct vehicle replacement there is the issue of a replacement energy source. One gallon of gasoline equates to 33.4 KWH of electricity. To replace the approximate 33 millions of gallons of gasoline saved each year will require about 1,113,000,000 KWH of electricity (1,113,000 MWH) In 2007 the entire electricity production for the state was 106,990,217 MWH with less than 3 percent from wind, solar, or similar non-emitting sources. (Hydro power was not considered because it is already classified non-renewable).

The bottom line is that to replace energy for transportation needs, the PUGET SOUND REGIONAL COUNCIL region will need an increase of non-emitting energy sources that essentially exceeds current capacity. In that the same time frame electricity sources will be required for general population support and economic development, it is difficult to comprehend how the energy needs will be met to sustain any of the 2040 options.

Finally there is the issue of personal choice as demonstrated over the past 30 or so years. The US automotive market has always had available one or more lines or models of cars that traded size for fuel economy. In the mid-1970’s during a major oil supply curtailment, a significant effort was made to shift the American car driver from “gas guzzler” to fuel efficient, high mileage vehicles. It did not work.

The Ford Pinto, Chevy Vega, Pontiac Tempest, Fiats and Datsun’s of all stripe, followed by Saturn, Honda, KIA, Hundai and a complete variety of fuel efficient vehicles from major manufacturers has not significantly modified the American choice for size, comfort, and safety on the road.

The continued effort by planners to bring about a change in personal behavior is not only a continuing study in frustration, but a major divergence from the authority and responsibility delegated to our government.

PSRC may be able to justify, in some manner, the ability to decide if roads will or will not be provided for citizens to use for personal transportation. PSRC does not have the moral imperative or the authority to decide what type of cars citizens will purchase and drive or how frequently or how far citizens will drive their cars.

In the other Washington

It appears that the only thing that can save us from more ‘help’ from the federal government is for Congress to get off on the August recess as quickly as possible. For those of you who have questions about legislation before both houses of Congress do not feel alone. It appears that a large number of the Representatives and Senators are also having a bit of difficulty following the flow of bills and other sacrificial offering being pumped out by staff and professional legislation creators. Things are so bad that one very senior member of the House has commented that there is no need for members to read legislation before voting. After all even with several days and a staff of lawyers they would probably still not understand what a bill actually says or does. This ‘advice’ to a group of 535 with well over 200 being lawyers. Perhaps Ron Ross is right and the tea Party and next revolution are around the corner.

Word is out that Rep Jay Inslee will be ‘home’ for the recess in August but has no intention (or apparent desire) to hold one of his famous ‘town hall’ meetings to push his agenda. It may be that the average citizen is a little bit better informed than Inslee prefers on matters pertaining to “cap-and-trade” or government controlled health care. It has to be a hallmark in our representative form of government when our ‘representative’ doesn’t want to know what we think or how we would like him to represent us.

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