Friday, August 3, 2012

Countdown To CAOmageddon: Flaw #1 - The CARA

There are about 60 days remaining before our Council votes on the proposed Critical Areas Ordinances. The Trojan Heron will mark the days by counting down the innumerable errors and fallacies incorporated into the prospective CAOs. These will be in no particular order, since the flaws are so bad that it would be hard to come up with a relative scale of "badness" anyway.

Let's start at the beginning with the first CAO to be passed and the one that has received the least attention nowadays:  the Critical Aquifer Recharge Area (CARA) ordinance. The CARA was passed in 2008 by a 4 to 1 margin, with Knapp, Myhr, Ranker, and Rosenfeld voting in favor and Peterson opposed. Lichter was absent. Peterson didn't even sign the final ordinance, and during the pre-vote discussion of the CARA, Peterson summed up his objections by saying that it just "doesn't make any sense."

Nevertheless, it was rammed through by the efforts of Shireene Hale, substantially fortified by the support of Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Jon Cain.  Minutes before the Council vote, Hale and Cain sat in front of the Council and mutually urged them to vote for the CARA based on the "precautionary principle."

After the vote concluded, during the very same meeting, the Council received a visit from the newly appointed head of the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP), David Dicks. Council members were beaming with satisfaction and spoke glowingly about the San Juan Initiative with Dicks. Pete Rose even asked Dicks if the PSP could provide money to our County for enforcement.

In any event, from a science perspective, the CARA is sheer nonsense. It designated every speck of land in the county as a critical recharge area. Not even the definition of "aquifer" is correct in the CARA, and it misused scientific and regulatory terminology in spades. It is incomprehensible gibberish, and the fact that our Council voted for it illustrates that they are capable of voting for any old piece of staff-sanctioned foolishness.

The CARA is based on no science. None. In fact, the passage of the CARA involved no Best Available Science (BAS) whatsoever and received no input from any licensed hydrogeologist. Although unscientific, it was prophetic. It showed what happens when planners are allowed to engage in "science," and it demonstrated the proclivity of mindless eco-deceptive planning to overreach on everything (oh, let's just make it all critical).

Many believe that the CARA is behind us, but the map associated with the CARA expired in 2010. As a result, we currently have no CARA designations for the county. Regardless of what happens on the rest of the CAOs, we'll be at least one CAO short.

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