I request you support House Bill 1307 “Concerning standards for the use of science to support public policy”.
Private property owners in our state have been unfairly burdened by “Big Dumb Buffers” imposed by Department of Ecology and the Growth Management Hearings Boards for the past dozen years or so.
When asked to provide proof of harm or scientific justification for these rulings, property owners have been met with the response that the science is not available, but will be forthcoming. We are now progressing with Shoreline Master Plans, again dictating big dumb buffers with no attempt to provide proof of harm or measured science to show harm.
Only with the requirement that State agencies produce independent, peer reviewed science, will we be able to craft environmental regulation that is effective, without destroying our economy by artificially driving up the cost of permission to build.
In 2005, 100 foot “no build/no touch” buffers were imposed on all rural Kitsap County shoreline as part of our Critical Areas Ordinance remand from the Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB). The over-ruled Board of County Commissioners position had been that the long standing 35 foot buffers on the waterfront had shown no proven harm to the health of Puget Sound. The GMHB offered no science to justify their remand.
Dr. Don Flora’s review of the Battelle Bainbridge Island assessment for Department of Ecology revealed 72% of surf smelt and 49% of sand lance spawn in front of bulkheaded (“armored”) parcels. Eel grass is found equally in front of bulkheaded parcels and non-bulkheaded parcels. Yet, Department of Ecology ignored “inconvenient science” and contracted with Kitsap County to conduct a beach assessment of man-made structures.
Hypotheses and science are two completely different things. No proof was offered that man-made structures harm anything, yet the implication is they should be removed and large buffers added.
Less than 3% of Puget Sound Partnership’s budget is allocated to science. It’s hard to imagine they will spend the remaining 97% of “our” funds in a beneficial way, with virtually no science to justify their decisions.
The requirement for peer reviewed science will put a stop to arbitrary and capricious actions by State agencies.
Michael A. Gustavson
Southworth, WA 98386
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