The cost of truth


Author: Brian T. Hodges

If truth is held to be a virtue, then why did Washington’s environmental agencies work so hard to stifle a bill that would require them to demonstrate that science used to develop environmental regulations passes the peer-review “sniff test?”

The answer (drum-role please): money.  Washington’s Department of Commerce (which is charged with adopting regulatory guidelines directing cities and counties how to develop their critical area restrictions) estimated that it would cost between $2,000 to $10,000 per new regulation to have its science peer-reviewed. 

Really?!  It would cost that little to assure that an environmental regulation does not improperly strip landowners of their rights?

The agency’s budgetary lament seems to have forgotten the reason for the bill:  the incredible burdens that critical area regulations place on landowners across the state.  For example, Jefferson County’s latest critical area update strips away all development rights on land adjacent to its major rivers – applied to just one of its rivers, the regulation impacts 73 residential properties with a tax assessed value of $8,540,000.  If $2,000 – $10,000 is the cost of getting it right when toying with property valued in excess of $8.5 million, I really don’t see the problem.

Nonetheless, the agencies opposed the bill because it is cheaper for them to burden our land with unproven and unreviewed “scientific” conjecture.  In response, I will reply on Albert Einstein, who famously chastised, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”