Orca Bill to Focus on Issues that will not Save Orcas but will Harm You!


This bill has passed the House, but must go through the process in the Senate, where it has had a first reading, but is not scheduled yet for a public hearing.  You can comment on the bill at 800 562 6000!

HB 1579, Implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force related to increasing chinook abundance, is a perennial repeat of an agency bill CAPR has fought against in previous sessions.  The bill sponsors are unaware of this repeat bill or are simply presenting it wrapped up in a pretty save the Orca bow, to benefit political campaign speak.  CAPR has spoken against this bill in testimony and with individual legislators.

The bill is about expanding the authority of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in permitting work in the waters of the state.  These permits are for Hydraulic Project Approvals (HPAs.)   The problem with HPAs has been an ever-expanding jurisdiction to include habitat.  Because the Washington Supreme Court opined previous jurisdiction of at or below the average high-water mark was no longer the typical and traditional guide for the need for a permit, there is no longer a bright line for people to determine if a permit is needed.  Ostensibly, a permit could be needed even if it is not near a body of water if the department determines there would be a potential to impact a body of water.

The other red flag in the bill is the expansion of civil penalties from 100 dollars per day to 10,000 dollars per violation.  With expanded jurisdiction, violations will be easier to commit.

Requires the Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department) to liberalize catch limits for bass, channel catfish, and walleye in anadromous waters of the state.

Requires a fishing license to fish for saltwater smelt.

Creates a hydraulic project pre-application which a person may file with the Department to determine whether a project requires a full hydraulic project application.

Directs the Department to first seek voluntary compliance from a hydraulic project proponent if a violation of the hydraulic code has occurred or is about to occur.

Authorizes the Department to offer technical assistance to correct violations, issue notices of correction, notices of violation, stop work orders, or notices to comply to hydraulic project proponents in cases of violations of the hydraulic code.

Authorizes the Department to apply for an administrative inspection warrant to inspect project sites to verify compliance, or if there is probable cause to believe a violation is occurring or has occurred.

Changes the civil penalty for violations of the hydraulic code from $100 per day per violation to $10,000 per violation.

Authorizes the Department to disapprove applications for up to one year, or until all penalties and notices are paid and complied with, for persons who have failed to comply with either a final stop work order or notice to comply or failed to pay a civil penalty.

Removes the requirement that the Department issue a hydraulic project approval (HPA) for single-family residential bulkheads and rock walls.

Provides that the new hydraulic code enforcement provisions do not apply to projects that have received a forest practices HPA from the Department of Natural Resources.

March 12, 2019