Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Think Globally, Act Hypocritically

That bad smell coming from the east is not burnt grain. It's the smell of the rankest of hypocrisy coming out of Moscow.

You remember, the Moscow that filed a SEPA appeal against the Hawkins Companies development in the corridor last year based in part upon "stormwater drainage design"...the Moscow that also last year filed SEPA comments against the relocation of James Toyota to the corridor because it would create a "heat island" for stormwater runoff that would "harm" Paradise Creek...the Moscow that constantly lectures Whitman County about "sprawl" in the corridor because of the "environmental impacts."

Well, according to today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News, that same Moscow is actively going to fight attempts by the EPA to impose the same onerous stormwater regulations on it as have been imposed by the Washington Department of Ecology on Pullman and WSU.

And what does Mayor Green/Sustainable/Cool City have to say? She thinks Moscow should meet the EPA stormwater guidelines. Uh, okay, Queen Nancy, you're Les McDonald's boss. Order him not to fight the EPA listing. And where is King Solomon and his Merry Band of Aquinuts? Will Mr. Civil Discourse pen a column attacking Chaney and Moscow's decision to appeal the stormwater regulations?

A clearer example of the famous leftist double standard you could never hope to find. If, after this, anyone thinks all of Moscow's environmental talk isn't just so much BS to hide their elitist hatred of big box stores, they must be smoking some of that burnt wheat.

I'm going to enjoy watching Moscow be slowly hoisted on this petard.
City of Moscow plans to fight potential EPA listing

City could be forced to implement stormwater standards

The city of Moscow is hoping to convince the Environmental Protection Agency that it can take care of its stormwater problems without federal oversight.

Moscow has until Sept. 15 to provide information to sway the EPA from listing the city as a Phase II stormwater entity.

The City Council's Public Works/Finance Committee discussed how to best deal with the potential listing at its Monday meeting and decided to fight it.

If Moscow is listed as a regulated small municipal separate storm system (MS4) under Phase II, it will be required to develop a comprehensive stormwater management program and obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, according to a letter sent by an EPA Region 10 official in June.

The regulations are designed to manage the quality and quantity of runoff from development and to control stormwater discharge. The requirements are intended to reduce downstream pollution and contamination.

Public Works Director Les MacDonald said he estimated the average yearly cost of meeting the Phase II standards to be anywhere from $250,000-$350,000. The city of Pullman and Washington State University recently were listed as Phase II entities, and MacDonald said he based his estimates on their figures and those of other Phase II cities.

The preliminary listing does not guarantee Moscow will be listed. MacDonald said the officials he has talked to "have indicated some reluctance of the EPA to list the city."

He said the EPA is looking for more information from the city because the information it has is outdated. Moscow could stay off the Phase II list by showing the EPA what it has done and plans to do regarding stormwater.

"I suspect that if the city were to say we'd feel there's good reason to pursue some of these things they might be willing to back away from us," MacDonald said.

McDonald prepared a document that addresses the EPA's assessment of Moscow and argues against some of the criteria. He wrote that the EPA is not aware of steps Moscow has taken to reduce "pollutant loading" in Paradise Creek and included a chart showing future and completed projects recommended by Moscow's Watershed Advisory Group.

Mayor Nancy Chaney could not attend the meeting, but sent a memo with her opinions on the matter. She wrote that Moscow should "comply with the expected requirements" regardless of whether it is listed as a Phase II entity.

"We are already doing many - if not most - of the things expected of MS4 operators as Moscow strives to become a model of sustainable practices," Chaney wrote.

Committee members concluded the city should fight the listing.

City Councilwoman Linda Pall said the city should show the EPA that it's already working to be in line with Phase II standards and should not be listed.

"I do think that we ought to have the 'but you know we don't qualify' part of this pretty strongly outlined," she said. "Not litigiously ... just pointing out the facts of the situation so they know if they want to take us on, they might not be able to win on this one."

Council members Bill Lambert and John Weber agreed.

"If we can solve the problem ourselves, I think we're way ahead," Weber said.

McDonald said it may cost the city less money if it is not listed as a Phase II entity but pursues some of the requirements anyway.

The city already is considering adding a stormwater utility, and implementing that utility would give the city money to spend on stormwater regulation, McDonald said.

The University of Idaho also is preliminarily listed as a Phase II entity, and officials have decided to try to persuade the EPA not to include the university.

"We are going to supply information that we think that we should not be regulated," said Fred Hutchison, UI environmental health and safety director.

Hutchison said the UI is not a significant polluter and does not affect "sensitive waters" as defined by the EPA.

It is "quite possible" the university would implement some stormwater regulations even if it's not listed, he said.

"It's preliminary right now, so we're not real sure where this is going to go," he said.


April E. Coggins said...

Does anyone else wonder how WSU and UI sports tourism gets such an easy pass? We are advertising for thousands of toilets to be flushed, showers ran and sink after sink of water running while teeth are being brushed. Can it be that Queen Nancy appreciates the "all come" of her ox, but other oxes are fair game?

As far as I am concerned, Nancy's quote, "We can't be 'all come' for everyone" should be a rallying cry for Pullman tourism. Moscow may apply tests, but Pullman gives the benefit of the doubt. I know I wouldn't pass the Nancy test.

Tom Forbes said...

In some teensy-tiny way, I'd like to think that I am reponsible for Moscow's current predictament.

Last December at the Pullman Town Hall meeting, I argued against stormwater permitting for Pullman based on the fact that it would cost us business, as Moscow faces no similar regulations.

Afterwards, several high-ranking officials with the Washington Department of Ecology picked my brain. They asked me if somehow Moscow could be held to the same stormwater standard as Pullman, would that ease the pain somewhat. I said "Yes." They told me that certain phone calls could be placed and suggestions made.

Now, some six months later...voila!

Sarcastic Housewife said...

Tom, what a wily rascal you are to suggest such a course of action.