Archive for December, 2010

Governor’s budget cuts to natural resources

December 15th, 2010  |  Published in Budget, Department of Ecology, Department of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife, State Agencies

Gov. Chris Gregoire released her proposed budget this morning. The proposal, which is the first draft that will be edited by the legislature, cuts more than 25 percent from the combined natural resources budgets. The total allocation from general fund spending for natural resources is reduced by $122.5 million down to $331.7 million.

Here is the budget summary (natural resources starts on page 21).

Here is more details on how those cuts happen. First, the governor proposes raising funds:

Impose cost-recovery fees for:

  • Water rights applications. (shift $5.6 million from GF-S to Water Rights Processing Account)
  • Commercial fishing licenses. (shift $1.1 million from GF-S to State Wildlife Account)
  • Hydraulic project approvals. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will
  • propose legislation to create fees to offset General Fund-State funding and streamline the application process. (shift $3.8 million from GF-S to Hydraulic Project Approval Account)
  • Silviculture burning permits. The Department of Natural Resources is directed to charge fees that generate revenue to cover program costs. (shift $750,000 GF-S to Air Pollution Control Account)

And, here is a summary of the cuts:

Reduce spending at the Department of Ecology for activities that can be delayed or performed less frequently, including water rights processing, litter pickup, and flood control and watershed planning grants. ($5.3 million GF-S; $4.0 million Litter Account; $2.0 million Flood Control Assistance Account)

Reduce staffing, hours of operation and other administrative costs at small agencies. ($2.3 million GF-S; $519,000 other funds) Reduce funding for agricultural fairs, which will result in smaller and fewer county fairs. ($3.0 million Fair Fund)

Reduce expenses for fire control, such as discretionary training for firefighters, and freeze wages for exempt firefighters. ($1.6 million
GF-S)

Reduce General Fund-State support of the Department of Natural Resources’ Natural Heritage Program, which will lead to fewer updates to information on native plant and animal species and ecosystems. ($537,000 GF-S)

Reduce grants to conservation districts and encourage efficiencies such as merging. ($400,000 GF-S)

Shift $9.5 million of base funding for environmental programs at the Department of Ecology from General Fund-State to dedicated accounts. (from GF-S to State and Local Toxics Control Accounts)
Shift funding to achieve permanent, stable support for oil spill prevention and preparedness. ($5.0 million from Oil Spill Prevention Account to State Toxics Control Account)

Create the “Explore Washington” pass to offset the General Fund-State reductions in the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Fish and Wildlife. (shift $1.6 million GF-S to State Wildlife Account)

Governor’s natural resources agencies consolidation plan

December 14th, 2010  |  Published in Budget, Department of Ecology, Department of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife, Puget Sound Partnership, State Agencies

The governor released a plan to consolidate some of the larger natural resources agencies into one department. You can read her proposal here.

The Senate Democrat Caucus Blog has a good description:

* Consolidating the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Recreation and Conservation Office and the law enforcement unit of the Department of Natural Resources into a new Department of Conservation and Recreation.

* Consolidating the work of the Columbia River Gorge Commission, the Pollution Liability Insurance Agency and the Department of Health’s reclaimed water program into the Department of Ecology.

* Moving the State Conservation Commission into the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation in the Department of Natural Resources

New bills for 2011 introduced

December 14th, 2010  |  Published in Tracking Archive 2011-12

Three new natural resources bills have been introduced since pre-filing began last week. You can follow new natural resources related bills as they are added on this page.

Impacts to natural resources agencies from supplemental budget

December 13th, 2010  |  Published in Budget, Department of Ecology, Department of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife, Puget Sound Partnership

Over the weekend, the state legislature passed a supplemental budget that in part cuts the expected state revenue shortfall. All major natural resources agencies saw impacts, the largest of which was to the Department of Ecology.

The summary of the cuts can be found at the Legislative Evaluation and Accountably website.

Here are the totals for the various agencies (found on page 8 of the above document):

  • Department of Ecology: $5.89 million cut for a new total budget (2009-11 biennium) of $440 million.
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife: $3.7 million cut, new total budget $323 million
  • Department of Natural Resources:  $4.1 million cut, new total budget $371 million

The document also includes details of what programs were cut in the various departments, starting on page 26.

Here are the detailed cuts for the Department of Ecology:

WATER RESOURCES PROGRAM REDUCTION – Funding and FTE staff are reduced in the Water Resources Program. This will result in less work accomplished in the following activities: water rights adjudication, instream flow setting, dam safety, water rights processing, water law compliance, data and information, water use efficiency, and local watershed management technical assistance.

SHORELANDS PROGRAM REDUCTION – Funding and FTE staff are reduced in the Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program. This will result in fewer staff available to perform wetlands and watershed planning work. This item includes a $500,000 reduction to new and existing watershed planning grants to local communities.

AIR QUALITY PROGRAM REDUCTION – Funding and FTE staff are reduced in the Air Quality Program. This reduction will result in fewer staff available to work on reducing vehicle emissions, industrial permits, air quality analysis and improvement planning, and grant management.

WATER QUALITY PROGRAM REDUCTION – Funding and FTE staff are reduced in the Water Quality Program. These reductions will delay work on water quality cleanup plans and reduce capacity to manage water quality grants and loans.

ADMINISTRATION PROGRAM REDUCTION – Funding and FTE staff are reduced in the Administration and Support Program. This reduction will result in less capacity for federal grant reporting, cost recovery, accounts receivable, and updates to the Department’s information technology system responsible for managing grants, contracts, and loans. In addition, less staff time will be devoted to climate change preparation and adaptation work.

MONITORING PROGRAM REDUCTION – Funding and FTE staff are reduced in the Environmental Assessment Program. This will result in fewer staff devoted to measuring streamflows and monitoring the effectiveness of water cleanup plans.

UTILIZE DEDICATED ACCOUNTS – By shifting costs for a number of programs to other dedicated accounts with positive variances, and by reducing General Fund-State spending in other programs, General Fund-State expenditure authority is reduced. This reduction will impact the following programs: Administration, Air Quality, Hazardous Waste, Shorelands, Spills, Waste 2 Resources, and Water Quality.

WATER RESOURCES PROGRAM REDUCTION – Funding and FTE staff are reduced in the Water Resources Program.This will result in less work accomplished in the following activities: water rights adjudication, instream flow setting, dam safety,water rights processing, water law compliance, data and information, water use efficiency, and local watershed management technical assistance.

SHORELANDS PROGRAM REDUCTION – Funding and FTE staff are reduced in the Shorelands and EnvironmentalAssistance Program. This will result in fewer staff available to perform wetlands and watershed planning work. This itemincludes a $500,000 reduction to new and existing watershed planning grants to local communities.

AIR QUALITY PROGRAM REDUCTION – Funding and FTE staff are reduced in the Air Quality Program. This reductionwill result in fewer staff available to work on reducing vehicle emissions, industrial permits, air quality analysis and improvementplanning, and grant management.

WATER QUALITY PROGRAM REDUCTION – Funding and FTE staff are reduced in the Water Quality Program. Thesereductions will delay work on water quality cleanup plans and reduce capacity to manage water quality grants and loans.

ADMINISTRATION PROGRAM REDUCTION – Funding and FTE staff are reduced in the Administration and SupportProgram. This reduction will result in less capacity for federal grant reporting, cost recovery, accounts receivable, and updates tothe Department’s information technology system responsible for managing grants, contracts, and loans. In addition, less staff timewill be devoted to climate change preparation and adaptation work.

MONITORING PROGRAM REDUCTION – Funding and FTE staff are reduced in the Environmental Assessment Program.This will result in fewer staff devoted to measuring streamflows and monitoring the effectiveness of water cleanup plans.

UTILIZE DEDICATED ACCOUNTS – By shifting costs for a number of programs to other dedicated accounts with positivevariances, and by reducing General Fund-State spending in other programs, General Fund-State expenditure authority is reduced.This reduction will impact the following programs: Administration, Air Quality, Hazardous Waste, Shorelands, Spills, Waste 2Resources, and Water Quality.

Department of Fish and Wildlife:

DEFER EQUIPMENT PURCHASES – Funding is reduced for the purchase of equipment and supplies for the remainder of the biennium.

ELIMINATE AQUATIC EDU ACTIVITIES – Funding is eliminated for two aquatic education programs: Angler Education and Salmon in the Classroom.

ADMINISTRATIVE REDUCTION – Savings are achieved through vacancy management in administration and enforcement, and an increased use of existing federal and private/local expenditure authority.

New agenda items for House environmental health committee

December 7th, 2010  |  Published in Legislative Meetings

The House committee on environmental health added two agenda items (particulate matter and ozone) for their meeting tomorrow. They will be meeting at 10:00 a.m. in House Hearing Rm C in the John L. O’Brien Building.

Here is the full agenda:

Work Session:

  • Changes in Air Quality regulations for small particulate matter and ozone and the impact on human health and local communities.
  • Health effects of air pollution.
  • Sources of air pollution in Washington.
  • National ambient air quality standards based on health effects.
  • Consequences of nonattainment.