Thursday, December 29, 2005

Washington Farm Bureau to File Petition Similar to Oregon's

The Heartland Institute - by James Hoare
"Undaunted by the circuit court ruling in Oregon, the Washington Farm Bureau is drafting a similar voter initiative for Oregon's northern neighbor. Like Oregon's Measure 37, the Washington initiative would require state and local governments to compensate private property owners for regulatory restrictions that devalue their property."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What's Up with This?

US Forest Service

"Oregon received the largest payment, which was more than $146 million; California received $64.6 million; and Washington received $41.8 million."

"Since 1908, 25 percent of Forest Service revenues, such as those from timber sales, mineral resources and grazing fees, have been returned to states in which national forest lands are located." Oregon has 15,123,853 acres of Forest Service land and got $146,953,630.54, that is $9.72 per acre. Washington has 10,844,925 acres of Forest Service land and got $41,821,435.41, that is $3.86 per acre.

EPA : Draft Nanotechnology White Paper


"Nanotechnology is the science of manipulating materials at the atomic and molecular level to develop new or enhanced materials and products. "In December 2004, EPA's Science Policy Council created a cross-Agency workgroup to identify and describe the issues EPA must address to ensure protection of human health and the environment as this new technology is developed. The draft white paper on nanotechnology is the product of the workgroup."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"Lawsuit challenges agency's list of salmon called endangered"

The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA

"Several business and industry groups on Tuesday sued federal fisheries managers for failing to include hatchery salmon when considering endangered-species status for the fish. "The lawsuit - filed in Eugene federal court by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of property owners, farmers and business groups in Oregon, Washington, California and Idaho - alleges that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries division broke the law by failing to follow the Endangered Species Act, which requires the agency to treat all fish the same. The suit says that hatchery salmon are genetically indistinct from naturally spawning fish."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Chevron and Department of Ecology: What's going on?

The following email has just posted on the Washington Department of Ecology's listserv:

"IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Dec. 13, 2005 05-297 Chevron refuses Washington's request for oil-spill drill OLYMPIA - Chevron Shipping Company, which carries millions of gallons of petroleum products across Washington waters, has become the first-ever oil-shipping company to refuse a request by the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) to participate in an oil-spill drill. Chevron and all oil handlers operating in Washington waters have mandatory oil-spill "contingency" plans that spell out how they will respond to oil spills. Ecology approves the plans and tests plan-holders periodically through announced and unannounced spill drills. The state's spill drills test how well oil handlers implement their plans. On Dec. 8, Ecology asked Chevron to deploy resources in an oil-spill drill on the Columbia River. When Chevron refused, a practice scenario in which a Chevron tanker carrying millions of gallons of diesel was to have run aground west of Astoria, Oregon, never played out.  Anytime oil is spilled into the Columbia River, Washington has an interest because oil can move quickly toward Washington waters and shorelines. This spill scenario was selected to test Chevron's ability to respond to an oil spill in the often treacherous waters at the mouth of the Columbia. "Chevron transports millions of gallons of oil over Washington's waters each year and oil-spill drills are critical tools to test readiness to respond to a spill.  An immediate response is absolutely necessary to minimize environmental damage once oil hits the water," said Jay Manning, director of the Department of Ecology. "Chevron's refusal breaks the previously unbroken line of willing participation in spill drills in Washington. I am extremely concerned." Dale Jensen, manager of Ecology's spills program said Ecology has ordered Chevron to update its spill-contingency plan. Also, he said Ecology will test Chevron once again sometime during the next 30 days. Other oil-handlers in Washington that have passed unannounced spill drills in 2005 include:  B-P Cherry Point Refinery in Ferndale,Shore Terminal in Tacoma, Tesoro Terminal in Port Angeles,ConocoPhillips-Yellowstone Pipeline in Spokane and Tesoro terminal in Anacortes. The drills tested the facilities' ability to quickly notify authorities and to deploy containment boom. Jensen said Chevron's spill drill was to test of how well it could coordinate a quick response from its nearest offices in San Ramon,Calif. In addition, the drill was to have tested how well Chevron's representatives would make proper notifications, coordinate a response through spill-response contractors, establish a command post, and test how quickly Chevron could get its own team to the spill site. All holders of Washington oil-spill contingency plans were notified earlier this year that unannounced drills would be occurring. Ecology has used unannounced oil spill drills for five years to ensure that oil handlers protect Washington waters and, until this incident, no oil handler has refused to participate. # # # Contact: Sandy Howard, public information manager, 360-407-6239"

Scoping Comment Period Announced: Oil Shale and Tar Sands Programmatic EIS

Oil Shale and Tar Sands Programmatic EIS Information Center

"The United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), will prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for oil shale and tar sands resources leasing on lands administered by the BLM in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. The PEIS will amend existing applicable Resource Management Plans to address oil shale and tar sands resources leasing in these three states. This web site is the online center for public information and involvement in the PEIS process. Public Scoping Comment Period Open Until Jan. 31, 2006 The public scoping period started with the publication of a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register (December 13, 2005) and will continue for 50 days after publication in the Federal Register. The Agencies will accept written comments on the scope of the Programmatic EIS and electronic comments via this web site. Use the Public Comment Form on this web site to submit comments."

Monday, December 12, 2005

Eminent-Domain Taking in Niagara Falls -- with a Twist

Buffalo News

"Van Egmond, 71, opposes a controversial plan by New York State to force property owners to sell 26 acres of Niagara Falls land for use by the Seneca Nation of Indians. "The land - including homes, a hotel, restaurants and a multimillion-dollar water park - would be purchased by the state and turned over to the Senecas. "The Senecas plan to tear it all down and build at least one new hotel, parking facilities and other amenities for their Seneca Niagara Casino. One hotel owner, facing the state's threat, sold his hotel to the Senecas last week."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Major Property Tax Case from the Washington State Supreme Court: Distinguishes "Assessment" and "Valuation"

In a five to four decision released today, the Washington Supreme Court found that a taxpayer who claims its real property has depreciated during the four year period since the last "valuation," cannot challenge its previous "assessment" midcycle, but presumably must wait until the next four year valuation. Writing for the five-member majority in ADVANCED SILICON MATERIALS VS GRANT COUNTY, Justice Fairhurst states that "[RCW 84.40.020] requires annual assessments--not annual valuations." The case arises from Advanced Silicon Materials' claim that its property decreased $200 million in value between its last evaluation in 1999 and its assessment in 2002. Writing for the four-member dissent, Justice Johnson argues that "The use of cyclical systems of revaluation does not prevent taxpayers whose properties decline in value midcycle from seeking a refund based on that decline." This case is bad news for Washington property owners and should receive the attention of the Legislature as soon as possible.