Environment

WPC's Center for the Environment brings balance to the environmental debate by promoting the idea that human progress and prosperity work in a free economy to protect the environment.

Environment Blog

Climate Policy in Washington: The Republican Proposals

January 10, 2014 in Blog

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.

Climate Policy in Washington: Comparing the Republican and Democratic Proposals

January 8, 2014 in Blog

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.

The two approaches are quite different but both claim to meet a standard of environmental effectiveness. For example, the proposal offered by Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien) claims:

New Puget Sound Partnership Director Faces Big Challenge

January 7, 2014 in Blog

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.

Politics are More Fun Than Climate Leadership

December 20, 2013 in Blog

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.

In his editorial board meeting with the Olympian, Governor Inslee had this to say about the climate policy he wants:

Kirkland Staff Report Advocating Plastic Bag Ban Cites Social Media as Scientific Source

December 7, 2013 in Blog

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.

Bees, T-Shirts and Corn: Three Items on GMOs

December 1, 2013 in Blog

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.

PEMCO's Solar Roof Five Years Later: $346.87 Of Environmental Benefit

November 21, 2013 in Blog

Today is the fifth anniversary of something many drivers stuck in Seattle traffic have become familiar with: the PEMCO solar panel reader board.

Vague and Contradictory Data Make State's Climate Report a Policy Rorschach Test

November 18, 2013 in Blog

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.

Will Lands Commissioner Goldmark Stand Up for His GMO Crops?

November 10, 2013 in Blog

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."

Inslee Proposal to Combine Cap-and-Trade and Low-Carbon Fuel Standard Is Costly and Ineffective

November 6, 2013 in Blog

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.