Washington is a Prisoner to Wasteful Energy Projects

December 22, 2010 in Blog

Would you spend $880,000 to save $147,000?

Washington state did.

Greens vs. Science - Attacking ORCAA

December 15, 2010 in Blog

Just a few years back, Washington voters passed legislation requiring utilities to provide increasing amounts of renewable energy to their customers. The definition of "renewable" is fairly narrow, but it does include "biomass," which is energy from wood waste, predominantly, that is burned to generate electricity.

Seeing an opportunity to profit, a company called Adage has announced its plans to build a large biomass plant near Shelton to sell the electricity to Washington state utilities. Some greenies, however, aren't happy about it.

Eco-Fadz: Practical Green for the Practical Millionaire

November 18, 2010 in Blog

This might be the quote of the year regarding the push to be "green":

“Green is a trend and people go with trends. People get them as fashion statements and they have, like, 50 of them. I don’t think people know the real facts.”

Oh, and By the Way, It's Good For the Environment

November 5, 2010 in Blog

When listening to politicians and campaigns, the message people lead with often reveals the real reason they support a particular policy. Some are very good at "staying on message," but most soon reveal their primary motivation.

Which is why these comments from two of R-52's biggest advocates struck me:

R-52 Supporters Will Take Any Port in a Storm

October 26, 2010 in Blog

Today, supporters of Referendum 52, which would add nearly a billion dollars in state debt to fund energy projects in state schools, write in the Everett Herald about why voters should vote "yes." Interestingly, the study they cite indicating R-52 will make schools healthier has nothing to do with the projects R-52 would fund.

The author writes in the Herald:

The Climate Fix is in Seattle - Great Book Reading Tonight

October 18, 2010 in Blog

Roger Pielke Jr., who spoke earlier this year at our annual environmental conference, is in Seattle today to read from his new book "The Climate Fix." It is one of the most thoughtful books on the subject I've read in some time. Here is what I wrote on Amazon about The Climate Fix:

Offering Environmental Salvation...For A Price

October 18, 2010 in Blog

Friday, the state's Clean Energy Leadership Council held a public meeting in Seattle to unveil its approach on how the state can "grow the clean energy sector and promote economic development and green job creation in Washington."

The event concluded with a speech from Ash Awad, McKinstry's Vice President of Energy and Facility Services, who promised that with the right policies the state could achieve "environmental salvation." What policies did he propose?

The Kings of Climate Comedy

October 4, 2010 in Blog

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

Climate Contradictions - China Edition

September 30, 2010 in Blog

I am in Sydney this week at a conference, so China is on my mind having had the opportunity to speak with economists from Beijing and Hong Kong.

What Now for the Puget Sound Partnership?

September 8, 2010 in Blog

In recent weeks the Puget Sound Partnership has received a growing number of complaints about the way it is making decisions about Puget Sound cleanup. Here is a list of recent pieces on the PSP, the challenges it faces and critiques.

Seattle's Outraged Tree Activists Will Probably Kill More Trees Than They Save

September 6, 2010 in Blog

The City of Seattle is considering a revision to private property tree restrictions for the first time since they were enacted in 2001 and, not surprisingly, activists are "outraged." The proposed rules would change the regulations relating to trees on private property, and The Stranger reports that the Seattle Department of Planning and D

The Interacademy Council of Scientists: Not at movie director James Cameron's level

August 30, 2010 in Blog

There may be no issue where science and politics have been more thoroughly conflated than climate change. Rhetoric and politics have too often masqueraded as science. The last few days provided some text book examples of how acute this problem has become.

Dilbert Gets It...Olympia Doesn't

August 25, 2010 in Blog

Last week's Wall Street Journal Saturday Column is from Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, and chronicles his effort to build a "green" home. Interestingly he notes some of the very problems we've highlighted with green schools here in Washington state.

A Smart Way to Improve Energy Efficiency

August 23, 2010 in Blog

Last week, the Department of Energy announced it is funding a test of the Smart Grid, an upgrade to the current electrical grid. Developed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in the Tri-Cities, the Smart Grid would improve the stability of the grid and allow consumers to receive real-time information about rates and adjust their energy use accordingly.

Peter Goldmark's Shifting Position on Forest Certification

July 27, 2010 in Blog

Last month, Lands Commissioner Goldmark complained that a judge's decision allowing the Okanogan PUD to place power lines on state land, over Goldmark's objections, would harm the value of school trust lands. He claims the decision will reduce revenue to Washington's schools. We noted Goldmark's plan to certify state trust forest lands using a system designed by environmental activists known as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), would do far more harm, cutting school revenue by about 30 percent according to his agency's own numbers.

Now, Goldmark has shifted his position on the issue. In an interview on TVW last month, he argued that our claim is "Not based in fact at all." In our blog poston the issue on June 8, we made two claims: 1) Goldmark "is advocating increasing the amount of state forest certified under the Forest Stewardship Council" and 2) this would "reduce the amount of timber harvested, and revenue to the schools, by an estimated 25 percent." Though it comes from his own agency, Goldmark may not like the second claim, but he only appears to be disputing the first claim.

In September 2008, when he was running for office, Goldmark was clear that he would seek FSC certification. In the video below from a campaign stop in Bellingham, he says (text begins at 6:00 in the video):

"Unlike Mr. Sutherland, who is supporting Sustainable Forestry Initiative certification, which is basically an industry sham, FSC stands for something that is real, which provides for better sustainable management of our state lands while delivering more value for our state. There is more value in the retail marketplace for FSC than there is for SFI, about 8 to 9 percent. And I will work hard to certify all the state’s forests in a progressive manner so we manage our state’s forests sustainably and we get more revenue stream for school construction.”

So, Goldmark makes three points in the speech: 1) Sutherland isn't committed to certification, 2) SFI is "an industry sham," and 3) He will "work hard to certify all the state's forests" using FSC.

He seems to have changed his position on all of these things. In the TVW interview last month, Goldmark responded to the piece we wrote. Beginning at 10:50 in the video, he says the following about his position on FSC certification:

“Well, I find this very fascinating, because my predecessor, who Todd Myers often is the advocate for, actually was the first to adopt FSC certification on trust lands. In 2008, when he was the commissioner at the time, actually had certified roughly 144,000 acres of state trust lands to FSC standards. So he started the whole process. My approach is that if FSC can deliver more value for the trust beneficiaries and attain greater ecological protection at the same time, I’m more than happy to go forward with it.  But, actually this is a false accusation on the part of Mr. Myers. As you can see I am not the first commissioner to certify trust lands and I have not certified any further trust lands to FSC standards, but I am looking for ways to acquire more value for the trust beneficiaries and if FSC certification can achieve that added value or any other certification, I am happy to proceed."


Here Goldmark makes three points: 1) Sutherland was the first to seek certification, 2) Goldmark is willing to certify using "any other certification" which would include SFI and 3) Goldmark hasn't certified any further lands under FSC and will do so only "if FSC can achieve added value." These are directly at odds with what he said in 2008.

It is unclear what he thinks is a "false accusation" on our part. In context of the video, it seems Goldmark argues that our claim that he is seeking FSC certification is false, since now he only wants to do so "if" it adds value. He seems to have made a significant shift away from his campaign position to one that is in line with Sutherland's policy. It would also be a refinement of the position he announced earlier this year in the Goldmark Agenda, where he wrote his administration would "Increase the amount of land with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification..."

Often, politicians find policymaking very different than campaigning, and this may be the case with Goldmark's position on forest certification. If he sticks to the new position he outlined on TVW, it is unlikely he will certify any additional state lands due to the high cost. If this is the case, we wholeheartedly agree with his new position which would limit any reduction in revenue for schools.