Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, November 16, 2007

"Moscow: Using the environment for cover"

Another scathing editorial on Moscow's appeal of the Hawkins water rights transfers, this time from Gordon Forgey in yesterday's Whitman County Gazette:
Over the years Moscow, Idaho, has developed into the predominant retailing area of the Palouse. It has come to that position by relentlessly expanding and building, often without much thought to the future.

Only one thing has limited Moscow’s expansion to the west. That was the state line. It must have been frustrating that its previously unimpeded growth would be hampered by such an artificial barrier. Then, to make matters worse, people across that state line started talking about commercial development of their own, specifically Whitman County and the Hawkins development on the Pullman/Moscow Corridor.

Short of trying to invade the troublesome territory, Moscow had to come up with a way to stop those interlopers from stealing its retail thunder. Suddenly, Moscow embarked upon an environmental campaign, claiming that the Palouse would be desecrated by the fledgling developments in the other state.

Saving the untouched portions of the Palouse from economic development has become the new mantra of the new Moscow. Under the guise of this new concern for all that is green, Moscow has appealed recently approved water right transfers which would make the new Whitman County developments possible.

The environment and the protection of natural resources is good cover for Moscow, but the real motivation for all this is that the city is fearful of losing some of its business to Whitman County.

This is a legitimate fear, but the entire Palouse cannot be held captive because Moscow wants it both ways—its own growth while stifling the growth of others.

In the matter of shared resources, it is vital that neighboring governments and communities cooperate in the protection of those resources. Few would question the strictness and protectiveness of development and building codes in Whitman County. In fact, Moscow could learn from them.

The specious arguments fostered by city officials in Moscow do no good. They do not help the environment. They do not help controlled and responsible growth. They do not help in developing responsible partnerships across the state line.

And, sadly, they cannot help the sprawl and the history of its own environmental abuses that is Moscow’s true legacy to the Palouse.

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