Too much money spent on fish
July 3, 2008 · Updated 9:11 PM
Its all very well for the State Department of Transportation (DOT) head to push for an increase in the gas tax (Whidbey News-Times, Dec. 5). But to attribute the need for the tax to increased wages and population growth without mentioning the horrendous costs of environmental protection is a gross oversight.
Even though we oldtimers saw fish runs thriving right along with earlier clearcut logging, in-place dams, and widespread use of land for human development; and even though this years record fish returns are credited by scientists to favorable ocean conditions and fish harvest controls not to back-to-nature environmental restorations neither DOT nor any other state agency ever suggests that perhaps our sacred-icon-the-fish-god could get by with a little less propitiating.
In November 1991, a Journal American article stated: So much of King Countys share of the gas tax increase, earmarked for road improvements, is being spent to cover the cost of new environmental regulations that less than half of the new money is going for the projects themselves.
In 1992 a State Dept. of Fisheries requirement to re-align a small roadside stream drove a road widening project from an estimated $140,000 to an estimated $1.19 million. Re-meandering Break Creek in downtown Redmond, as part of the SR 520 interchange work, was estimated at as much as $6 million, depending on what level of wetland mitigation is required. (From a May 1994 DOT letter.)
Our gas taxes would stretch infinitely further if the DOT director took the politically incorrect step of sorting the necessary and unnecessary among environmental protection requirements, and then lobbying the legislature to make some common-sense adjustments to environmental laws.