Letters to the Editor

Bailey bill stops gravel mine rules

How discouraging it was to read the article in last Saturday’s News-Times about a Hearing Examiner’s approval of the expansion of a corporate gravel pit next to a residential area.

Three citizens were quoted as noting that zoning had been changed to a classification more accommodative of the gravel mining, that prior penalties for environmental abuses have not changed corporate behavior, and, most sadly, that it didn’t “seem fair to accommodate a corporation at our expense.”

Oh, neighbors, your problems may be just beginning.

Check out HB 1082, currently pending before the Washington state Legislature and sponsored by Island County’s own Rep. Barbara Bailey. This jewel of a bill provides that before the Department of Ecology or county officials penalize the gravel pit operators for environmental rules violations or for water pollution, as they have in the past, they must take new steps. They must seek “voluntary compliance;” no time limit is provided. They must provide “educational materials” on “methods of correcting” the violation. They must provide “technical assistance” for “achieving compliance.” Finally, all of the educational materials, technical assistance, and efforts to obtain voluntary compliance must be “administered and funded within existing resources.”

So if your corporate neighbor once again dumps untreated wastewater in a ditch near you, or bulldozes a vegetation barrier and digs gravel 100 feet from your kitchen window, or buries trash on its property to avoid the cost of disposal, don’t bother to call the state. Don’t call the county. Call Barbara Bailey and tell her thanks a lot.

Why would Barbara Bailey do such a thing? When you’ve finished reading HB 1082, head over to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission and find out who’s contributing to her campaigns. You’ll find that she raised close to 10 times the money than her opponent did. You’ll find that she has several times the amount her opponent spent sitting in a “surplus” account, unspent in the election. You’ll find that she had dozens or corporate and corporate PAC contributors, while her opponent did not have a single one. What a coincidence!

Lynn Petersen


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