Spokane beverage company shows power of economics to do environmental good

September 19, 2011 in Blog

“Economics is a science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.”

The comment by the former head of the economics department at the London School of Economics holds an important insight for those of us who care about the environment. Environmentalism, at its core, is a concern about scarce resources. Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources.

Eco-Fads: Why Politicians Fell for Solyndra Deal

September 15, 2011 in Blog

The bankruptcy of solar-energy company Solyndra, taking half-a-billion taxpayer dollars down with them, has been described as the "first major scandal of the Obama Administration." E-mails are demonstrating the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had reservations about the deal and even predicted, virtually to the day when Solyndra would go bankrupt.

Responding to the Comments on My Eco-Fads Editorial in the Seattle Times

September 6, 2011 in Blog

Today, the Seattle Times published my guest editorial on how the rise of trendy environmentalism is harming the environment. The piece did not fail to attract a range of responses.

Some comments are purely personal: “myers is also a very boring writer.” I should note here that I’m also a very bad dancer.

Greens vs. Science: Ecology Replaces Science with Insinuation on Climate and Weather

September 5, 2011 in Blog

The passage of Hurricane Irene offered another chance for speculation about how climate change is "already" having an impact on the weather. Despite the fact that Irene was weaker than projections expected, it didn't stop folks from substituting speculation and insinuation for science.

Seth Preston at the Department of Ecology weighed in, arguing that some scientists were now saying that such weather was caused by climate change. He wrote:

Left-Wing Group Exposes Its Environmental Ignorance

August 17, 2011 in Blog

A new, left-wing group called ALEC Exposed has popped up taking aim at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) noting that the organization brings legislators from across the country together to, surprise, exchange ideas about legislation. ALEC Exposed is also unhappy that businesses have a seat at the table during discussions.

Deregulating Taxis To Improve Energy Efficiency

August 10, 2011 in Blog

The Sightline Institute has a great piece on their blog about deregulating taxi licenses in Seattle to allow improved mobility and reduce carbon emissions. They argue that more taxis would allow families to avoid having to buy another car. The piece notes that where more taxis are allowed, competition increases, driving prices down.

The best paragraph of the piece, however, can be applied to a whole range of environmental problems:

Greens vs. Science: EPA and Pacific NW National Labs Debunk Another Chemical Scare

August 9, 2011 in Blog

This year, Washington state became one of nine states to ban a compound known as bisphenol-A or BPA, from a number of children's products. The ban was justified based on concerns that BPA caused a range of problems from hormone disruption to obesity. The concern is that BPA contained in food containers would be ingested and lead to these problems.

Does Dog Poop Video Help the Environment? That is, Apparently, Ancillary.

July 18, 2011 in Blog

Our budget and transparency director Jason Mercier recently highlighted the $27,000 spent by the Puget Sound Partnership, using a grant from the Department of Ecology, to tell dog owners to pick up after their pets. Now the Department of Ecology is defending their sponsorship of the video.

In a blog post they call the rap video a "A good return on the state’s investment." They highlight several reasons.

Greens vs. Science: Is Climate Change Already Here? I'll Take That Bet!

July 8, 2011 in Blog

Update at end of blog (July 11, 9am)

Over at the Sightline Institute, they're unhappy with the Seattle Times story on the weather, lamenting that the Times "won't link it to climate change." Washington is warming, Sightline says, and we're already feeling the impact.

Is Solar Power Being Held Back by Government...Or Saved by It?

June 24, 2011 in Blog

At his recent gubernatorial kickoff, Attorney General Rob McKenna highlighted a company in King County that manufactures solar panels. McKenna noted that government regulations were hampering its ability to compete, prosper and create jobs. Generally, we agree with that perspective. In the case of solar power, however, companies that produce solar panels are heavily reliant on taxpayer subsidies and regulations.

Will PS Clean Air's Abstract Claims about Toxics Do More Harm than Good?

June 17, 2011 in Blog

Tonight, KCTS is running a story about the impact of diesel emissions in Seattle on cancer rates in the Puget Sound Region. To promote the broadcast, one of the contributors to the story, Investigate West, sent out this tweet earlier in the week:

@invw + @KCTS9 report "Breathing Uneasy": #PugetSound region is in top 5% for #air #toxins in US.

Jay Inslee's Irrelevant Facts About 'Green' Energy

June 13, 2011 in Blog

I recently picked up Jay Inslee's book on promoting the "green" economy with government programs. This paragraph stuck out at me:

Climate Data That Sounds Meaningful...But Isn't

June 10, 2011 in Blog

Today's Seattle Times features a story with the headline "Study of 800-year-old tree rings backs global warming." The article notes that snowpack loss in the Western United States has been more severe in recent decades than in the last millennium based on studies of tree rings. There are two key claims here.

City of Seattle Admits (Quietly) Its Carbon Emissions Reports are False

June 3, 2011 in Blog

When launching the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement, former Seattle mayor Greg Nickels promised the city would set an example for the nation by meeting the carbon emissions reductions in the Kyoto Protocol. Nickels said the city's emissions would be 7 percent below the 1990 levels by 2012.

On his way out of office in December of 2009, he triumphantly declared victory.

Climate Policy That Creates Dependency: It's Not a Bug...It's a Feature

May 27, 2011 in Blog

One of the most significant problems with current climate policy is that costly failures have been difficult to eliminate. Even when it becomes clear that a policy isn't achieving the promised environmental goals, special interest groups that financially benefit from the policy prevent it from being eliminated.

The best example of this is biofuel policy. Even Al Gore now admits the real damage caused by biofuel subsidies, both to the environment and the federal budget. He admitted: