Northwest NEWS

March 12, 2001

Editorial

Follow-up on Hollywood Hill burn ban

As a follow-up to the letter you printed on Feb. 26 on the outdoor burning ban on Hollywood Hill, here is a letter that pursues getting the ban lifted so Hollywood Hill can burn in the limited fall with spring burning periods allowed other rural areas. (With lots of evergreens and shrubs, we have a lot to burn from snowfall break-offs.)
   Since no agency has yet provided justification for singling out the area west of Avondale Road for no burning, since the emissions test data is the same for each side of Avondale (no failures either side), those who would like to burn, rather than chip and haul, should contact Dennis J. McLerran, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency at www.pscleanair.org (fax 206-343-7522; mail to 110 Union Street, #500, Seattle 98101); and also Bruce Smith, Ecology Air Quality Program, at brsm461@ecy.wa.gov (fax 360-407-6802; mail to Washington State Department of Ecology, 300 Desmond Drive, Lacey, WA 98504-7600.
   (The following is a copy of a letter Maxine Keesling sent to Dennis McLerran, executive director of Puget Sound Clean Air Agency by Maxine Keesling.)
   ... You are right in saying that I did indeed participate in the amendment process for outdoor burning rules. I wrote testimony; I attended the two Mount Vernon public meetings; and I talked on the phone with Bruce Smith of Ecology. I read the rules proposals and I read the before-and-after summary sheets sent out by Ecology, plus Final Report and Concise Explanatory Statement.
   But in all that reading and participating, I missed - and it was never discussed - what I call the "sneaker action" that calls for burn bans in rural areas that are "former nonattainment areas." (I find it ironic that October 15, 1999, Final Report of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency PM 2.5 Stakeholder Group said that "providing incentives" may produce greater air quality benefits than new regulations. If past misdeeds hand you, where do incentives come in?)
   The corker though is that testing data sent to me by Ecology's Air Quality Program's data person showed no exceedances, or past testing failures, anywhere on the Eastside, except one exceedance in 1995 in Bellevue.
   As to where the responsibility lies for the rule changes, at various times I've been told it was a collaboration among Ecology, the PSCAA, King County, and the fire districts.
   Our local fire district disavows any involvement; and I haven't talked to anyone in King County, although they pride themselves in being the state leader in environmental matters so I wouldn't be surprised at their involvement. I would be surprised if there were no involvement with PSCAA, and I was told that upon request by PSCAA to Ecology, with evidence to support that request, Hollywood Hill could be removed from the burn-ban extension that included this rural area. (The supporting evidence could be that the inclusion was erroneous in the first place in that there was not testing to prove Hollywood Hill ever failed the carbon monoxide standards.)
   I shall very much appreciate hearing from you whether your agency will make the request to Ecology to remove Hollywood Hill from the No Burn area.
   Maxine Keesling, Woodinville