Last week Governor Inslee sent a letter to the legislature, reproaching them for comments about the potential cost to consumers of a Low-Carbon Fuel Standard. Since he has not outlined his plan, he argued, it is impossible to estimate costs.
He also said it was "offensive" to imply that, "I have in some way been hiding my intentions." He suggested, "If in the future you have questions about my intentions, I suggest you ask me."
According to TheSeattle Times, Governor Inslee is upset at a Republican claim that a Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) would increase the price of a gallon of gas by $1. Recently, some have expressed concern that the Governor will impose an LCFS using an executive order.
As part of the Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup (CLEW), Republican members offered their ideas for effectively cutting carbon emissions in Washington state. On the whole, the Republican proposals yield more environmental benefit per dollar spent, but do not yield significant emissions reductions.
The key shortcoming of these policies is that they focus only on electricity. Washington state's electricity is already extremely decarbonized. As a result, focusing on electricity (as many of the Democrats' proposals do as well), is not going to make meaningful reductions.
After months of study and discussion, the Republicans and Democrats of the Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup (CLEW) in Olympia released two different draft proposals designed to cut Washington's carbon emissions.
Today, Governor Inslee announced the appointment of Sheida Sahandy as the new Executive Director of the Puget Sound Partnership. Sahandy comes from the City of Bellevue and PSP Chair Martha Kongsgaard noted that while in Bellevue, Sahandy "created the City’s first suite of environmental indicators and targets." This is similar to the PSP's approach of using "Vital Signs," with targets for 2020.
It is a familiar pattern. Politicians promise to take a science-based approach to climate policy only to ditch the science and data for partisan politics and feel-good rhetoric when deadlines draw near.
Last month, Kirkland City staff released a report advocating a ban on plastic grocery bags, arguing "single-use plastic bags have proven to be detrimental to our environment and a drain on our non-renewable natural resources." The report argues a ban achieves the greatest balance of business, environmental and public benefits.
Last month, voters in Washington state rejected labeling biotechnology crops, known as "genetically modified organisms" or GMOs. The issue, however, isn't going away. Here are three bits of GMO news and information since the labelling initiative was turned down.
Bees and Bt Corn
As a beekeeper, I ran across this one in my winter reading.
The state's Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup (CLEW) is examining policies designed to reduce the state's carbon emissions. The key tool in that process is supposed to be a report analyzing the effectiveness of those strategies. The report, however, provides very little useful information about what strategies are best.
Now that the GMO labeling debate has subsidized (it will assuredly return), it is time for many who support biotechnology, but were unwilling to say so during the campaign, to stand up for that technology. One person who was noticeably absent from the recent debate about biotechnology crops was Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark.
When he ran for office in 2008, Goldmark, a PhD molecular biologist, spoke frequently of his creation of a GMO strain of wheat. In his voters' pamphlet statement in both 2008 and 2012 he listed himself as a "wheat breeder/scientist."
When Governor Inslee signed the regional climate agreement last week, it included two policies he had already advocated publicly as part of the Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup (CLEW) process. It called for a cap-and-trade system and a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) which would require fuel to have less carbon per gallon than standard gasoline (among other things). Including both of these policies, however, makes it more expensive to reduce carbon emissions while doing nothing to increase those reductions.
As expected, Governor Inslee today signed the "Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy" along with other West Coast leaders and it includes promises that contradict the spirit of Governor Inslee's own legislation and the analysis provided as part of that process.
The section on a "low-carbon fuel standard" is the best example of how this agreement is at odds with the approach laid out in the Governor's climate bill, 5802. It reads:
For the first time, Washington state is attempting to base its official climate policy on approaches that provide the greatest environmental benefit for every taxpayer dollar spent. Past efforts have done nothing to measure the actual climate impact or to prioritize the way tax money is used. As a result, Washington politicians have wasted huge amounts of money while yielding little or no benefit for the environment.