Northwest NEWS

February 26, 2001

Editorial

Why is outdoor burning no long allowed on Hollywood Hill?

(A copy of a letter sent to Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and Dept. of Ecology)
   Re: Conversations yesterday about 2-12-01 Woodinville Weekly article re extending the urban No Burn Zone to include rural Hollywood Hill et al.
   After reading background material, following yesterday's conversations, I'm even more shocked:
   1. In checking the before (9-99) and after (3-2000) Ecology notices describing what the proposed/adopted Open Burning Rule would do/does, there was absolutely no mention of the key portion that was read to me yesterday:
   "WAC 173-425-040 . . . Nonattainment areas. Residential burning and land clearing burning may not be allowed in any areas of the state that exceed federal or state ambient air quality standards for pollutants emitted by outdoor burning.
   These areas are limited to all nonattainment areas and former nonattainment areas (emphasis mine) for carbon monoxide, particulate matter (PM-10 and PM2.5) . . . "
   2. While the key portion "former nonattainment areas" is absurd because improvement then counts for nothing, I was told that Hollywood Hill failed the carbon monoxide standard at some point in the past. (Automobiles are the source of most carbon monoxide.) Since Hollywood Hill lies between the Sammamish (agricultural) Valley on the west, and the Bear Creek (fish) Valley on the east with no cross-connection roads, I pointed out the probable error of a carbon monoxide failure on the Hill.
   I was then told that perhaps, upon request to Ecology from the Clean Air Agency, Hollywood Hill might be excluded from the no burn zone extension.
   (While that's well and good for Hollywood Hill to be exempted, it's not fair to other non-exempted rural extension areas to be clobbered for some distant failure that might or might not be related to outdoor burning.
   I understood that in the past decade there's been only one day in the Seattle area that failed federal air quality standards, and that failure had nothing to do with rural outdoor burning. Perhaps forest fires?
   3. Included are copies of two letters responding to a letter I wrote to the Puget Sound Regional Council and to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) objecting to what sounded like new clean air regulations described in the January 2001 Regional View published by the Regional Council.
   Please note that the one from Executive Director Dennis J. McLerran of the PSCAA states that "If our agency were to propose any regulatory measures, there would be ample public notice and opportunities for comment before they were adopted."
   Am I wrong in thinking that including Hollywood Hill - a rural area - within the boundaries of an urban no burn zone is a regulatory measure for which there was no public notice or opportunity for comment?
   The recently adopted state outdoor-burning rules allow for spring and fall burning opportunities in non-urban areas, to take care of burning vegetative debris that cannot be reasonably expected to be chipped and hauled out.
   I'll be interested to hear your views of why Hollywood Hill should be eliminated from the otherwise permitted minimal amount of outdoor burning to maintain our land free from wildfire-fuel debris.
   Maxine Keesling, Woodinville