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.
As part of Governor Inslee’s climate workgroup, known as CLEW, for Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup, state officials are taking public comment about the future of climate policy in Washington. The state hired a consulting firm, SAIC, to issue a report on various strategies to reduce Washington state’s carbon emissions.
This week, we will analyze that report and look at how we can get the greatest environmental benefit for every taxpayer dollar.
Updated below with reply from Department of Ecology
Last week, the State Department of Ecology announced a sole-source contract for $50,000 to study purchases of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). The announcement says the survey will...
describe new-car buyers’ valuation of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) and ZEV-enabling technologies, describe why people hold these intentions, and characterize the antecedents to these intentions, e.g., awareness, knowledge, motivations, and barriers toward purchasing ZEVs.
This Thursday, a group called Responsible Choices Washington will host a debate about labeling of biotechnology crops, known popularly as GMOs, at the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture. The choice of the venue is ironic.
Twelve years ago, eco-terrorists firebombed the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. The reason, as evidenced by the spray paint left behind, was opposition to the research being done on the genetics of plants.
Step one of any twelve-step program is "admit you have a problem." Left-wing environmental groups like FUSE still aren't there. As a result, Washington state has wasted millions on failed climate policies and some seem determined to keep doing that.
This week, the Wall Street Journal is publishing four pieces I wrote addressing various aspects of energy and environment policy. You can read them all at the WSJ Experts page. There are some nice pieces by others as well, so it is worth a look at all of the articles.