There has been a great deal of emotion related to the fight over transporting coal in Washington state, with environmental groups rallying their supporters against sending coal to China. While the focus has been on the potential impacts of tangible coal, what has gone unaddressed is the metaphorical toll that coal causes every day in Washington state.
Today, the Washington Policy Center is announcing an effort to reduce that psychic toll.
A bipartisan majority passed the Governor's climate legislation today in the State House, sending it to Jay Inslee's desk for his signature. The bill enjoyed bipartisan support in the Senate as well.
The reason so many legislators crossed the aisle to support it, is that it included a measurement of environmental effectiveness. Previous climate legislation simply adopted the latest politically trendy option without an up-front assessment of potential effectiveness.
The Seattle Times reports today on Gov. Jay Inslee's commitment to reducing carbon emissions in Washington state. The governor notes that the carbon-reduction effort is a "moral" imperative and that failure to effectively reduce carbon emissions would be abdication of our responsibility to our grandchildren.
A web site called "Information is Beautiful" has an infographic it claims demonstrates the damage being done by carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. The graphic, however, shows how disingenuous the environmental left can be when it comes to climate science. Rather than using the "consensus" science, the graphic goes out of its way to cherry pick data from a range of sources. Ironically, some of the sources used contradict other sources.
The issue that has dominated environmental discussions in Washington state during the past year is the proposal to create a new shipping terminal in Whatcom County to ship coal and other goods to the Pacific Rim. The emotional debate has led to a number of strange arguments and ironies. Here are a few that stick out.
Groups With a Strong Financial Interest Attacking Others for Having a Financial Interest
There has been a great deal of talk about the severe impacts of the federal budget cuts associated with the so-called "sequester." The Obama Administration claims if the sequester takes effect it risks "$3.3 million to help ensure clean water and air, and to prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste." Cuts could include projects such as:
The City of Seattle's Office of Sustainability and Environment has released what has to be the most embarassing government video ever produced. Considering the Department of Ecology and Puget Sound Partnership's dog poop rap video is also out there, this is saying something.
The video, titled "We're So Green," has a message about as complex as a Taylor Swift song. With lines like "We are Seattle and we're leading the change," to call the video self-absorbed doesn't seem to go far enough.
Yesterday, Governor Jay Inslee released one element of his climate strategy, creating a "climate and legislative work group." The legislation calls for an analysis of a range of strategies to reduce carbon emissions. That analysis would be used by legislators to develop a final strategy.
Last week the House Environment Committee in Olympia considered HB 1294 which would ban a certain type of flame-retardant compound and create a process for identifying alternatives. Supporters of the legislation argue this will get us off the "toxic treadmill" of moving from one risky compound to the next.
Tomorrow, the House Environment Committee will consider HB 1294, the latest ban on flame-retardant compounds. The bill would ban a compound called Tris and would give the Department of Ecology the authority to ban future flame-retardants "unless a manufacturer demonstrates that there is not a technically feasible safer alternative to the flame retardant."
The Department of Health explains that Washington state law limits the amount of thimerosal "as a precaution." In other words, the state is ignoring the science in favor of an amorphous standard of "precaution." What is the result of that precaution? Selecky’s agency goes on to explain:
We don't have much natural gas in Washington state, but the impacts of the boom in natural gas production are certainly being felt here with lower prices. The low cost has also caused natural gas to replace coal in many parts of the country, causing a steep decline in nationwide carbon emissions.
In his inaugural address today, Governor Inslee highlighted the need to reduce the risk of climate change from carbon emissions. He specifically emphasized the need to "replace rhetoric with quantifiable results." This is critical. Washington politicians have been heavy on rhetoric the past several years and the results have been poor.
As activists opposing biotechnology crops and genetically modified foods, known as GMOs, were turning in signatures for their new labeling initiative, another anti-GMO activist was giving a speech about his past activism. The speech, however, doesn't begin as you might predict:
As the governor and legislature debate various environmental proposals for 2013, here is one fact they should keep in mind: many of the State of Washington's climate policies waste about 99 percent of the money spent to cut carbon emissions. Even those policies that perform better than that standard are only slightly better, missing huge opportunities to reduce carbon emissions.