In light of the state's budget shortfall, eliminating Department of Ecology grants to public participation groups is an excellent idea.
In fact, even if the state weren't in a financial bind, we would favor ending the government's support of groups like Heart of America Northwest.
Sure, the loss of that funding will come as a big blow to the groups that have been depending on them over the years.
Watchdog groups have a place in the debate. We're glad they are represented on the Hanford Advisory Board and appear at public hearings.
Hanford is a complex project. Oversight on several different levels is appropriate and necessary.
But why should the government levy a tax on first possession of toxic waste just to shuttle the money off to special interest groups?
For whatever good such groups might accomplish, they operate on an agenda that doesn't necessarily coincide with the interests of the taxpayers picking up the tab.
There's nothing wrong with promoting special interests, but the costs ought to fall to supporters who share the group's goals.
As far as representing the public's interest, the state Department of Ecology already is heavily involved in all things Hanford.
The money saved by cutting the public involvement grants to Heart of America and others is a little more than $2 million. It won't solve the budget crisis. But it will help -- a little.
More importantly, by targeting money that is being spent out of habit rather than necessity, these cuts will serve as a valuable example to all of state government.