Cost‐Benefit Analysis of Washington Climate Advisory Team’s Recommendations

In 2008, the Washington Climate Advisory Team (CAT) partnered with the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS) to create a report, Leading the Way: A Comprehensive Approach to Reducing Greenhouse Gases in Washington State. The report estimates the economic costs and benefits of the CAT’s greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation recommendations.The Beacon Hill Institute has previously reviewed the cost‐benefit methodology employed by CCS in five other states, and found three serious problems:

  1. CCS failed to quantify benefits in a way that they can be meaningfully compared to costs;
  2. When estimating economic impacts, CCS confused costs with benefits; and
  3. The estimates of costs left out important factors, causing CCS to understate the true costs of its recommendations.

The primary purpose of the CAT in 2008 is to “transform the comprehensive recommendations developed last year into a relatively small number of focused, refined, and effective set of actions that Governor Gregoire and the Washington Legislature can implement.”2 Unfortunately for Washington policy‐makers, the same three problems the Beacon Hill Institute found in prior CCS work plague the CAT study, rendering it unsuitable for making any informed policy decisions.

In this brief document, we first summarize the main findings of the CAT report. We then briefly review problems one and two, before providing a more detailed analysis of the third problem. We also examine the individual cost and benefit assumptions made in the three programs CCS estimated to generate the greatest net cost savings.

Read the full Policy Brief here