The Governor announced the rest of his climate strategy today, calling for a $1 billion a year cap-and-trade, a low-carbon fuel standard that would add additional cost to gasoline and subsidies for a wide range of politically favored industries.
The details of the plan are not available, so we will address them as they emerge.
But what struck me most were the many contradictions in the Governor's announcement. Such contradictions are indicators that politics, not sound science and economics, are driving the policy.
Last year was a banner year for oyster aquaculture in Washington state waters.
According to data from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the harvest of shelled oysters rose dramatically last year, more than double the amount from 2012, and 78 percent higher than the previous high in 2005.
This year, voters in Oregon will decide on a GMO labeling initiative similar to the one Washington residents turned down last year. During last year's campaign, we noted that Washington State University was developing a strain of wheat that would eliminate or greatly reduce the gluten toxicity. We thought it would be a good time to check in on the progress of this effort.
Environmental policy provides numerous examples where trendy politics and ignorance trump sound science. The City of Seattle's latest action to protect honeybees is just the latest example.
Taking a step called "very conservative," the City of Seattle announced it will no longer use a class of pesticides called neonicitinoids. The resolution, which is boilerplate language from other cities, claims:
A central argument of the Governor's push for climate policy has been that it will create jobs and help the economy. Along those lines, the Governor's climate workgroup recently released an economic study that showed positive economic results from one potential climate policy.
Now, however, the economists who produced those results admit they have "no confidence" in the accuracy of the projections.
This Sunday, environmental groups will be in the streets of Seattle, Portland, New York and elsewhere, to promote action on climate change. The left-wing group, Climate Solutions, promises it will "change everything!"
It has become Exhibit A for the claim that climate change is "already here." Ocean acidification, with increased atmospheric CO2 being absorbed by the ocean and reducing the pH (i.e. acidifying) of the water, is frequently cited by the Governor and others, pushing their particular climate policy.
Just last month, The New York Times highlighted the Governor's message on acidification and oysters:
Emblazoned across the side of Seattle City Light vehicles is a logo, proclaiming it the "Nation's Greenest Utility." A cornerstone of that claim is that City Light is "carbon neutral."
Less known is that the City Light relies largely on carbon-free hydro and nuclear power, which account for about 94 percent of its energy, to make that claim. Ironically, these energy sources are not recognized as "renewable" by the state.
Let's say you used a tool every day to solve a problem. Don't you think you'd wonder if that tool actually did the job?
For more than three decades, the state has required environmental impact analysis for a range of projects as part of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). The purpose of the analysis is to understand potential environmental problems of projects and proposals.
If you want evidence that climate policy puts environmental orthodoxy ahead of environmental benefit, the Governor's preliminary climate proposal provides a clear example.
The 14-page PowerPoint released this week puts strict limits on investments in carbon-reducing projects known as “offsets.” Why? The environmental community appears to feel that forcing lifestyle change is more important than actually helping the environment. The symbolism of sacrifice trumps sound science and policy.