Budget Language on Salmon Echoes WPC's Environmental Priorities Act
For the past two years, the Washington Policy Center has included the Environmental Priorities Act in our annual environmental recommendations to the legislature. In this year's "Fresh Start on the Environment" agenda, we again proposed the legislation that would use sound science and economics to prioritize those efforts providing the greatest environmental benefit for the available funding.
The Environmental Priorities Act would create a scientifically grounded council to "create a list of environmental projects based on an economic cost-benefit analysis and scientific review, rather than on political considerations."
Now, the Budget proposed by House Democrats includes similar language to assess the expenditures being made on fish hatcheries and wild salmon. The proviso, which begins on page 83, reads:
(3) Prior to submitting its 2013-2015 biennial operating and capital budget request related to state fish hatcheries to the office of financial management, the department shall contract with the hatchery scientific review group (HSRG) to review this request. This review shall: (a) Determine if the proposed requests are consistent with HSRG recommendations; (b) prioritize the components of the requests based on their contributions to protecting wild salmonid stocks and meeting the recommendations of the HSRG; and (c) evaluate whether the proposed requests are being made in the most cost effective manner. The department shall provide a copy of the HSRG review to the office of financial management with their agency budget proposal.
This is a very positive step. By linking expenditures to positive environmental results, we can be sure the state is spending taxpayer money wisely at a time when resources are scarce. But we can also be sure that the environment is well served by avoiding projects that waste time and miss opportunities to make a positive impact.
Such language should be the norm for Washington's environmental policy, not the exception, but we welcome this step in the right direction.