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.
King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) has a problem. People are flushing things they shouldn't, costing King County taxpayers $120,000 a year to fish out (yuk) and transfer the trash to a landfill.
This week Governor Inslee announced the much anticipated fish consumption rules and allowable cancer rate used to set clean water standards. By estimating how much fish people eat and the cancer risk from eating fish exposed to water pollution, the state determines how clean the water in the Puget Sound and elsewhere must be.
The rule itself won’t be available until the end of September, so it is impossible to make a specific critique, but there are a number of considerations after listening to his press conference. Here they are, in no particular order.
Famed physicist Neils Bohr once noted, "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." If you compound that difficulty by betting major public policy on your ability to predict correctly, the result is likely to be a costly failure.
Take, for example, Governor Inslee's predictions about low-carbon fuel, which he now wants to make the basis of his policy to reduce carbon emissions. At issue is the emergence of a new, purportedly less-costly and more efficient, type of biofuel called "cellulosic" ethanol.
Would you consider a change of 0.083 percent "unparalleled" and "significant"? Apparently, Governor Jay Inslee does.
Two weeks ago, Governor Inslee visited the Vancouver Columbian editorial board and defended his proposal to require an unprecedented level of analysis regarding proposed export terminals. His process, known as "expanded SEPA," has never been done before and would attempt to analyze the environmental impact not only of the terminal but of all the products being exported.
Last week, for National Pollinator Week, the President released a fact sheet announcing new efforts to save honeybees.
As a beekeeper, I can certainly attest to the value of bees for a whole range of reasons. I was speaking last week in Bellingham and one farmer/beekeeper in the audience noted that bees increase yields at his orchard by 40-50 percent. Others, like me, like the honey and simply enjoy keeping bees.