Thursday, August 30, 2012

Countdown To CAOmageddon: Flaw #27 - Assume a Can Opener

We're almost done with this mini-series about risk. We could go on forever, but the Trojan Heron wants to move on to another mini-series about functions and values. However, before we leave (for the moment) the topic of ecological risk, we feel the need to give some examples of how strong the anti-data, pro-assumption contingent is among the CAO crowd. In the past, we have characterized this view as the "assume a can opener" mentality. It's intimately related to ecological risk because we cannot characterize risk without credible data. It's the be-all end-all, and there is no way around it.

The anti-data contingent includes Ecology. In the last post, we saw Tom Hruby wanting to apply the standards of "beyond a reasonable doubt," "clear and convincing proof," and "preponderance of evidence," not to site-specific data, but to receptors and buffer sizes. Huh? "Beyond a reasonable doubt" buffer sizes? That's like applying the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard to the jail sentence or victim instead of the evidence for someone's possible guilt. Hruby hasn't a care in the world about source data or data quality, instead he just wants to ensure that our punishments conform to Ecology's subjective standards.

For the last Council meeting, Dr. Adamus discussed the possibility of collecting monitoring data in one of his submittal documents:
For wetlands categorized as Moderate or High Importance, require monitoring of amphibian dispersal movements by a professional herpetologist (amphibian expert) to determine site-specifically which upland areas are being used most of the year, prior to final determination of buffer width and permit issuance. This would be an expensive endeavor.
Professional herpetologist? Goodness. One can only conclude that Dr. Adamus is also part of the anti-data crowd. He never misses a chance to make monitoring and data collection seem arcane and impractical (except when he does it). I don't think he's ever even mentioned the state's credible data policy. He also probably isn't aware of the relatively simple data collection requirements even for industrial facilities regarding stormwater (i.e., five basic water quality constituents). Why would homes need more stringent monitoring requirements than a factory?

Lovel has steadfastly knocked down every idea related to data collection or monitoring too. She's one of the go-to anti-data stalwarts, but the apex predator against data is Shireene. She kills and eats every suggestion regarding hard data collection. Here's what she said about monitoring in the last Council meeting.
So...uh...if you're still interested in pursuing this option [monitoring and data collection] ... I know how expensive it is to run some of those tests (pause) and how difficult it is to make sense of the information you gather. If you find something does that mean it's (pause) well you have to figure out where it came from (pause) and is it too much? A simpler approach if you wanted to support some monitoring, you know (pause) most of this (pause) I think if we did (pause) if we set up a system where we did an inspection once every 5 years, that would probably give a pretty good idea if they're doing what they agreed to ...ummm...we could take a look at the roofing material and make sure the roofing material hasn't changed and it's not of a type that will give off contaminants, take a look at the yard and if the yard looks like it has herbicide applied to it, and that's probably gonna' be pretty big things you know, the driveway, we can look at the driveway and make sure run-off from the drive-way is being handled properly, that...ummm...runoff from foundations and curtain drains is being re-infiltrated. Most of this stuff I think we can look at, (pause) and that would be a whole lot easier and cheaper than tryin' to find it in the water!
In short, it's a "whole lot easier" for the County to prosecute us on circumstantial evidence using "observational data" they can "interpret" using "experts" than it is to actually get hard quantitative evidence, especially since the hard data would likely exonerate us and contradict the "expert observations." Data schmeta, simply let the eco-Puritanical behavior police come over and just take a look. They'll probably bring the Friends, and maybe Dr. Adamus can bring a State herpetologist, too.

In the end, it's about regulating and inspecting our behavior using "experts," not about quantitative risk to the environment.


  1. This desperately authoritarian CAO juggernaut being rammed down the throats of the 'regulated community' (AKA the citizens) by the DOE, Friends and Futurwise depends on the mythology that we are soiling our nest around here. We're not. Our environment is about as pristine as it can get and the nature of our rural character is the main reason why. You DO NOT want to gather data that will prove that. No no, you wouldn't want inconvenient data that proves your laws are insane gibberish written by foaming wackos out of some urban asylum in Seattle.

  2. Watermelons. Green on the outside, red on the inside.

  3. I love reading this analysis because it is so intelligent. But at the end of the day if the public doesn't get way more engaged over the rest of the term untill this gets voted on, what is the point? Where is the sustained public outrage that should be there given that Shireene and the Council hounded by Friends, PSP, Ecology and their financial sponsors nationally are bent on destroying American democracy as we know it? The letters written to the papers are pure fear tactics designed to make people agree with their radical idea that mankind is evil and should be stripped of all rights by an all-knowing authoritain govt---who does not follow its current rules nor know how to "construct " a wetland.. Where is the public? The true answer--making a living--is not acceptable in this situation.

  4. It's obvious to anyone that is paying attention that the council will block any suggestion about collecting evidence of contamination because they know it would pull the rug out from under their whole agenda. This whole process is a witch hunt run by a council that has no interest in the facts (or more appropriately, lack of).