Some Fourth of July Environmental Reading

July 3, 2013 in Blog

Here's a grab bag of stories to read while eating your burger, brat and steak tomorrow. It's what the Founding Fathers would want.

Using the Free Market to Save the Rhino

Here's a great (and moving) piece from NPR's Planet Money on a proposal to encourage the breeding of rhinos in an effort to flood the market with rhino horn (which grows back) and undermine poaching by driving prices down. At the current rate, poaching will cause a decline in the rhino population in 2016.

Inslee Vetoes Environmental Effectiveness Studies

July 2, 2013 in Blog

The budget passed by both chambers of the legislature last week contained a few hopeful signs toward measuring the environmental effectiveness of government policies. When Governor Inslee signed the budget on Sunday, however, he vetoed three sections of the budget that would have helped assess and promote the effectiveness of the state's environmental policy.

Environmental Effectiveness in the Proposed Budget

June 28, 2013 in Blog

There are some promising signs that legislators are beginning to demand environmental effectiveness when funding projects designed to protect Washington's natural resources. In addition to the clause in the Governor's climate bill requiring projects to be prioritized based on carbon reductions per dollar spent, there is budget language requiring a similar approach in other environmental arenas.

Obama's Climate Policies Contrast with Inslee/ALEC Approach

June 25, 2013 in Blog

Today, President Obama outlined his new strategy on climate change, calling for more support for a range of politically chosen strategies. Prior to the speech, Governor Inslee released a statement saying the approach is "a smart, practical and cost effective set of policies."

The approach proposed by the President, however, stands in contrast to Inslee's own climate legislation and model legislation passed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Jon Talton's Failed Peak Oil Predictions Show Why The Free Market Works

June 24, 2013 in Blog

It is a simple reality that you are more careful with your own money than with others'. The latest example comes from Seattle Times business columnist Jon Talton, who has argued repeatedly that the world is about to run out of oil. The theory, called "Peak Oil," says that since oil is a finite resource, we will run out in the near future, causing massive economic disruption. This is often used as an argument for increased political control of the economy.

Coal Decision Highlights Seattle's Do As I Say, Not As I Do Climate Policy

June 19, 2013 in Blog

The Army Corps of Engineers announced it won't consider the impacts of burning coal in China when examining the proposed export terminal in Washington state. Those who oppose exporting coal from the U.S. to China argue that such an analysis was necessary to understand the full impact of the exports.

Attempting to calculate all potential carbon emissions from coal exports, however, is completely unscientific and contradicts Seattle's own position when analyzing its carbon footprint.

Seattle's Climate Policy on Drugs

June 17, 2013 in Blog

Sometimes the simplest things can expose so much. Seattle's debate about the impact on climate policy of growing pot within city limits demonstrates how silly and ineffective some of Seattle's climate policies really are, contradicting the city's own "buy local" efforts.

As KUOW reports today, Seattle City Councilman Mike O'Brien is concerned that growing marijuana in Seattle will make it difficult to meet the City's goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. O'Brien told KUOW:

Taxpayer-Funded "EcoConsumer" Avoids Data While Attacking Private Alternative to Government Program

June 11, 2013 in Blog

When innovators working in a free-market come up with a better, environmentally friendly solution to a problem, what is the reaction of government agencies? Attack it.

Tom Watson, a King County employee who calls himself the "EcoConsumer," offers his thoughts on how to be a good environmentalist. On his (taxpayer-paid) blog, you will find a range of topics, from praise for Occupy Wall Street to recommending that people eat more kimchi (he calls it one of the "most enviro-friendly foods you can eat" but doesn't explain why).

Kirkland Poll on Plastic Bags: Strong Opposition to a Ban

June 3, 2013 in Blog

After other local cities have banned plastic grocery bags, the City of Kirkland commissioned a public opinion survey to see what residents would think about bringing the policy to the community. Not much, apparently.

Two results stand out.

Thurston County Taxpayers Pay for County Staff's Unscientific Campaign on Plastic Bags

May 30, 2013 in Blog

As part of its (taxpayer-funded) campaign to ban plastic bags, the staff at Thurston County Solid Waste released a new report called "Reducing Our Use: Plastic Shopping Bags," that purports to provide the science of the impact of plastic bags. The report, however, includes claims that have been called false by the nation's leading science organizations. Other claims simply ignore key data to reach the politically desired conclusion.

My Bees, Pesticides and Washington State's Biofuel Mandate

April 30, 2013 in Blog

The sun is slowly arriving and the bees in my new beehives, as well as bees across the Northwest, will be happier for it. As they begin to pollinate flowers and orchards, however, they will face a number of challenges: Varroa mites, wasps, pesticides and loss of suitable bee pasture.

Bees in Hive

Is the Bullitt Center Worth The Carbon Emissions of Issaquah, Sammamish, Snoqualmie and Woodinville Combined?

April 22, 2013 in Blog

Yesterday was Earth Day and Governor Inslee and Mayor McGinn attended the opening of the Bullitt Center, billed as the "greenest" building on the planet. One of the selling points is that it creates more energy than it uses. But, is it really green?

48 Hours After Governor's Climate Legislation Is Signed, Another Attempt to Ignore It

April 4, 2013 in Blog

With great fanfare on Tuesday, the Governor signed his climate legislation, designed to prioritize the best ways to reduce carbon emissions by 2020. The event, moderated by the Washington Environmental Council, promised a new approach to climate policy.

Just two days after its signature, however, a new bill attempts to sidestep the promise of that approach.

Appliance Standards Bill (HB 1017) Tries An End Run Around Governor's Climate Bill

April 2, 2013 in Blog

On the very day the Governor will sign his climate change bill, the Washington Conservation Voters will try an end run around the principles at the center of that legislation.

WPC Announces Effort to Make Washington Truly "Coal Free"

April 1, 2013 in Blog

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.