"It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brush fires of freedom in the minds of men."

- Samuel Adams

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wood Burning Device Ban

Do you have a wood fireplace, stove, or furnace? If so, you better start to worry because your progressive legislators just voted to approve HB 2326, a bill that “may include requiring disclosure, removal, rendering inoperable, providing evidence of destruction ... as may be approved by ... the department” of wood stoves or fireplaces in private residences. Right now it specifically only applies to Pierce County and the near future possibly Yakima, but an amendment also includes any area where a specific particulate concentration is found. Mightn't that include the Olympic Peninsula in the near future? And isn't it likely environmentalists will continue to push that threshold LOWER?
This bill, the door is open for it to be applied to any county, particularly those upwind of the I-5 Corridor. Since the law is tied into the “national ambient air quality standard”, if the feds tighten those standards in the future, the areas affected within Washington State could automatically expand if the law applies to the entire state. Sen. Hargrove objected to the original bill and offered an amendment “I will be taking one of 2 actions- voting NO or amending the bill to cover only Pierce County, the county whose clean air violations prompted this legislation”. However, his action made the bill more likely to pass, which it did by the narrow margin of 26-21. All the Republicans voted NO. Both Sen. Kilmer, who now is running for the 6th Congressional District seat left vacant by Norm Dicks, and Sen. Hargrove who might also run, voted FOR the Bill.
In a conversation between Kaj Ahlburg, a Port Angeles resident, and Rep. Van De Wege, Kevin said this would never actually be done, that this was not a regulation but just a “game plan” to bring Pierce County back into compliance with federal rules. But woe to Van De Wege because Kaj is a Harvard trained attorney, and knows better. Kaj responded to Van De Wege that “may include” does indeed authorize government to do the things specified in the bill, which government may not have been able to do in the absence of such authorization. He also told our representative that imposing legal rules known to be unenforceable from a practical or political standpoint was just bad policy and breeds contempt for law in general. Kaj gave as an example the addition of “no net loss” to the Shoreline Master Program Guidelines in 2003, the effect of which is being felt now.
The Bill specifically states it's for 'social justice'. Worry when you see that phrase because conflicts with 'equal justice'. Already some exemptions were inserted. It also said it was to improve the 'health' of people but isn't cutting, hauling, splitting, and stacking firewood a significant source of exercise for many? 
The Bill also creates an unfunded mandate. It says "the local air pollution control authority or the department shall, within available resources, provide assistance to households using solid fuel burning devices to reduce the emissions from those devices or change out to a lower emission device.” Why isn’t this listed in the Multiple Agency Fiscal Note Summary? Because the Legislature didn't ask for a fiscal determination according to the accountant, and the Senate did but was told there was no cost. In a discussion with the accountant I found she didn't know of the unfunded mandate. As I advocated back in 2008, the cost to the public and to local and county government ALSO should be determined.
Before you vote for any politician, please look at all the issues. Some may claim to want to protect you but if they are taking away your freedoms, and burdening you with extra costs so as to placate people outside the district or county, do they really deserve your support? Too often county officials claim they have no influence over state or federal decisions thus don’t make the effort. Working Wild Olympics showed that isn’t true. Some of our state officials stay out of federal decisions, that’s how we got the Spotted Owl fiasco and why two dams that had produced over $360 million in cheap electricity and helped build a thriving logging industry was torn down at a cost to taxpayers of $350 million. Forget what the media, or political and union leaders tell you do. Use common sense. If politicians are making decisions that increase your taxes, increasing your cost of living, decreasing your ability to recreate or enjoy life, taking away freedoms, and eliminating private sector jobs, then speak up and do the right thing. 

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