Environmental Photo of the Year

December 30, 2011 in Blog

2011 was a big year for environmental news from Solyndra, to Climategate II, and the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline. Locally, we saw Seattle ban plastic bags, the state ban BPA even as a study from the EPA said there was almost no risk, the fight over coal terminals in Western Washington, more ethics questions about how the Puget Sound Partnership spends money, among other issues.

One photo, however, stands out as the photo of the year, demonstrating the promise and pitfalls of our current environmental policy.

You Might Be a Redneck Locavore If...

December 29, 2011 in Blog think eating squirrels is good for the environment.

One growing element of environmental culture is the rise of the "locavore" movement – people who strive to eat only local food. Some take this quite seriously. In Portland a dispute over local food at a pig cook off ended in "at least two head buttings and a fist-fight" that sent "a renowned chef and the event's organizer to jail after one had been pepper-sprayed and the other shot with a taser."

Seattle Bans Plastic Grocery Bags. Does the City Care if it Succeeds or Fails?

December 19, 2011 in Blog

Today, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to ban plastic grocery bags and impose a 5 cent fee on paper bags. The goal is to "reduce plastic litter and protect Puget Sound marine life."

Will it make a difference? Probably not and there are tradeoffs.

For example, paper bags use four times a much energy to produce as plastic bags. The amount of energy, and related carbon emissions, used to create grocery bags, therefore, is likely to climb.

How to Be Green Without Sucking the Joy Out of the Holidays

December 19, 2011 in Blog

If you want to be green and celebrate the holidays, the Washington State Department of Ecology, King County Solid Waste and environmentalists have some advice for you: give the gift of self-sacrifice this season.

The Department of Ecology, for example, offers this view of Christmas gift-giving, saying it is little more than "scrambling to perpetuate increasingly consumptive accumulation of 'stuff' to store and throw away."

Greens Say "We Were All Duped"? Speak for Yourselves.

December 13, 2011 in Blog

"We've all been duped!"

That is the primary argument the Washington Conservation Voters, the Washington Toxics Coalition and the Environmental Priorities Coalition make in advocating for one of their 2012 "Environmental Priorities" - a proposal to ban "Tris" flame retardant compounds.

The Washington Toxics Coalition and the Washington Conservation Voters argue that the ban on Tris is necessary because:

Eco-Fads: The High Environmental Cost of the Local Food Movement

December 9, 2011 in Blog

One of the key tenets of environmental dogma is that buying locally produced food helps the environment. The fewer miles the food travels, they argue, the less energy used and the better it is for the environment. The King County "Ecoconsumer," a taxpayer-funded county employee, argued the case in the Seattle Times:

Green Crony Capitalism: Do Energy Retrofits Really Create 50 Green Jobs for $171?

December 7, 2011 in Blog

Why doesn't the environmental left turn to the creativity of the free market for solutions that reduce resource use, environmental impact and improve energy efficiency? Maybe because they don't understand, at a basic level, what the free market is.

Here is a perfect example.

Greens vs. Science: People for Puget Sound Skips the Facts on Plastic

December 3, 2011 in Blog

"There is no doubt that the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans is troubling, but this kind of exaggeration undermines the credibility of scientists."

Greens vs. Science: Ignorance Trumps Evidence In Ecology's Approach to "Toxics"

November 29, 2011 in Blog

Earlier this week, an article in the Seattle Times quoted Washington State Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant saying he was concerned that "new pollution" was undoing the cleanup of Commencement Bay in Tacoma. The new pollution, however, is not the toxic sediment being removed from the Bay. The article notes that the new "contaminants are called phthalates, used in piping, packaging, soft plastic toys and many other products."

Washington State Ranks 44th in Carbon Emissions Reduction Since 2004

November 16, 2011 in Blog

For much of the past decade, elected officials in Washington State have been talking about the critical need to limit carbon emissions to reduce the impact of climate change. The Governor, former Seattle Mayor Nickels and others have even highlighted their "leadership" on the issue.

Information released recently from the Energy Information Administration, however, shows that Washington is anything but a leader when it comes to actual results.

Eco-Fads: Paul Krugman's Silly Solar Claims

November 8, 2011 in Blog

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has a particularly silly column today in the Seattle Times, proclaiming "That's right: Solar power is now cost-effective." His central claim, after he finishes attacking natural gas exploration, is that "we're just a few years from the point at which electricity from solar panels becomes cheaper than electricity generated by burning coal."

He doesn't provide a source for this dramatic claim, and with good reason: it simply isn't true.

Why Environmentalists Lie: They Are Often Protected from Themselves

November 1, 2011 in Blog

Why do environmental activists feel so free to exaggerate or say things that simply aren't true? Today's Seattle Times offers a clue.

Today's Times has a story regarding logging roads and their impact on streams. It notes that the Office of the Attorney General has decided to join other states in appealing a decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled that foresters have to receive permits from the EPA for their logging roads.

What stood out at me is this section:

As Greens Wring Hands Over Earth's Seven Billionth Resident, Poverty Declines Dramatically

October 31, 2011 in Blog

A great deal is being made of the fact that global population has surpassed 7 billion people today. A number of folks on the left are worried about what this means for the planet. The Seattle Times features a story about the milestone, saying it comes "amid fears of how the planet will cope."

Environmental Quotes of the Week

October 21, 2011 in Blog

To take you into a rainy Fall weekend, here are the best quotes of the week.

The first is from the Los Angeles Times. Reporting on the California Air Resources Board (CARB) decision to institute a cap-and-trade system in that state, the Times story, "California becomes first state to adopt cap-and-trade program," contains this claim about the impact of that system on jobs:

Shouting vs. Science: Environmental Activist Quote of the Week

October 10, 2011 in Blog

A company in Clark County is looking to build a biomass energy plant. We've written about the science of biomass plants in the past. Although the economics of such a plant are shaky without some government support, the science indicates the plants are one of the best ways to provide renewable energy. They are much cheaper than alternatives such as solar panels.