Washington State Says Al Gore Doesn’t “Walk the Walk” On His CO2 Emissions

Aug 8, 2017

If Washington state treated Al Gore’s carbon emissions the same way it treats emissions from its own companies, he’d have to change his lifestyle dramatically.

To promote his new movie, the former VP was in Washington state last month, meeting with Governor Inslee and talking to activists. Washington was just one stop on Gore’s tour and many highlighted his hypocrisy when it comes to practicing the CO2-reducing behaviors he promotes.

Defending himself, Gore told Nicole Brodeur of The Seattle Times that, among other things, “I planted 16,000 trees on my farm last year…So I walk the walk.”

Not according to Washington state and Governor Inslee.

Washington state’s new regulation on carbon dioxide emissions specifically limits activities like planting trees to reduce worldwide emissions, known as carbon offsets. The state’s new Clean Air Rule allows some use of carbon offsets, known as “emission reduction units” (ERUs). We have supported this because it gives businesses flexibility to meet the targets in the most efficient way possible.

The rule, however, puts strict limits on what counts and then phases them out. The rule says, “ERUs must originate from GHG emission reductions occurring within Washington,” with few exceptions. Their justification?

“This program is premised on the concept of Washington doing its part to help reduce global GHG emissions. Although climate change is unique in that a reduction in GHGs in one part of the globe has the same effect on climate as a reduction in another location that fact does not alter the need for all global parties, including Washington, to do their part. Focusing the program in a manner that helps ensure that Washington does indeed do its part, through actions within its own borders, is consistent with this basic premise.”

In other words, we want to show we are doing our part, even if that costs more without doing more for the environment.

Substitute the name “Al Gore,” for “Washington” in the above paragraph and it makes clear that if this rule was applied to his travel and lifestyle, he is not doing “his part” to reduce emissions.

Others are even more strict.

Jill Mangaliman, is the Executive Director of Got Green, an “alliance of 60 plus organizations rooted in communities of color in Washington state to commit to climate justice.” She testified during the rulemaking that, “Purchasing out of state allowances does not reduce emissions.” According to Mangaliman, Al Gore’s tree planting does not reduce emissions at all.

Despite these strong statements against allowing Washington state businesses to invest in emissions reduction – getting the most environmental benefit for the lowest cost – environmentalists say nothing about Gore’s extravagant use of the same method. Just one of his three homes - his Nashville house – alone uses 21 times as much electricity as the average American. But he plants trees.

Given a choice between Gore’s approach and Washington state’s, Gore’s is more logical and environmentally effective. But, some who praise Al Gore as an environmental hero are happy to give him a pass on practices they would never allow job-creating businesses in their own state to follow. If it is good enough for the former VP, it should be good enough for our state’s businesses.