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    State receives a menu of climate change options

    Gov. Jay Inslee and a panel are examining how to address global warming most effectively.
    A protestor off a Seattle area beach.

    A protestor off a Seattle area beach. Photo: Flickr user serakatie

    Jay Inslee

    Jay Inslee Photo: Thomas Soerenes/Flickr

    Washington now has a list of programs worldwide from which to steal, or borrow,  as a legislative panel tackles climate change in this state. 

    The panel's consultant — Science Application International Corp. of Virginia — has done some initial sifting through worldwide climate change fix-it ventures to study, and SAIC presented that list to a panel of two Republican and two Democratic legislators led by Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday.

    "We like those free lessons from other places," Inslee said.

    In 2008, Washington's Legislature set a goal of reducing the state's greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and trimming emissions to 25 percent below the 1990 level by 2035. So far, nothing has happened. Inslee successfully lobbied the Legislature to set up a task force to map out how those goals can be reached. The task force is supposed to have recommendations for the state Legislature by the end of 2013. The panel will meet next in early September.

    Climate change and ocean acidification are major issues for Inslee. He has argued that carbon emissions will likely cost Washington's economy $10 billion by 2020 due to increased health costs, smaller snowpacks to feed irrigated croplands, greenhouse gases acidifying the ocean and killing shellfish larvae in Washington's waters, higher temperatures raising the risk of forest fires, and higher sea levels pushing more salt water into coastal water treatment plants. Today, the Earth's oceans are 30 percent more acidic than they were in the 18th century. That figure is expected to reach 150 percent by the end of the 21st century.

    In 2010, 22 percent of Washington's greenhouse gases came from producing electricity, compared to about 17 percent in 1990. The use of natural gas in electrical generation accounted for most of that increase. Residential, commercial and industrial burning accounted for 21 percent of the state's greenhouse gases in 2010, up from 18.5 percent in 1990. Burning fuel for transportation made up almost 40 percent of the state's greenhouse gases in 1990, which grew to 44 percent in 2010.

    Agricultural greenhouse emissions comprised one of the larger among a wide variety of other sources, but farming's contributions dropped from 5.6 percent to 5 percent of state discharges between 1990 and 2010. Industrial processes contribute about 4 percent, but saw an even sharper drop from their previous 7 percent of the state total. Waste management, on the other hand, went from 2.6 percent to 3 percent. 

    SAIC has looked at emissions trading programs, carbon taxes, power production, transportation measures, industrial processes, reductions to wastes that create greenhouse gases, and water conservation. SAIC has targeted programs that appear to be the most relevant and most adaptable to Washington, said Christina Waldron, the firm's Washington climate change project manager.

    The programs that SAIC recommends that Washington study include cap-and-trade, energy efficiency efforts, ways to increase public transit, British Columbia's carbon tax and cap-and-trade approaches to limiting emissions.

    Under cap-and-trade, a state sets a maximum amount of emissions that a particular industry can produce. Companies within that industry can buy and sell their emissions allowances among each other.

    SAIC recommended that Washington study California's cap-and-trade program, which will cover 35 percent of that state's greenhouse gas emissions in 2013-2014, increasing to covering 85 percent by 2020. A drawback is that California's system is still new, and its success is still up in the air.

    SAIC also targeted the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, which has been around since 2005, and covers 45 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in 31 European nations. This is the most studied cap-and-trade system in the world. It is supposed to reduce Europe's 2005's greenhouse gas emissions by 21 percent by 2020.

    New Zealand's cap-and-trade system was also recommended for study because that nation heavily relies on hydropower like Washington, and its residents' average incomes are close to Washington's mark. Quebec has a new program similar to California's, but with a power system overwhelmingly based on hydro.

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    Posted Thu, Jul 18, 7:55 a.m. Inappropriate

    How does Inslee's concern for the environment and Washington State's CO2 emissions fit with the proposed routing of a great many trainloads of coal through our state to China, to be burned in electric plants there? We know the emissions from China will just blow back over the Pacific to Washington State, and that the contribution of the CO2 may very well tip the climate so far that anything we do here will have no effect.


    Posted Thu, Jul 18, 2:57 p.m. Inappropriate

    Don't forget the Crude Oil Trains (much for export)that are set to increase through the State; "Ten Terminals for Crude Oil Trains Planned or Built in Washington" by Steve Wilhelm on 26 Jun 2013 at Puget Sound Business Journal.

    Our State is being set up as the nexus of West Coast oil and coal activity. Inslee is not stopping this, the Senate and Legislature is not stopping this.

    So, Inslee, the Senate, and the Legislature need to shut up about doing anything about carbon emissions, and more importantly pollution (funny, the air pollution talk is all only about carbon anymore, as more toxic crap than carbon continues to spew into the air).

    It is ridiculous to think Washington State would support and enable massive coal use, and massive oil use, and then turn around and tell Citizens;
    "Well, we need to cap and trade, and cost you more money, so that those in other nations can pollute more. Also, don't say too much as we won't do anything about Government spying on Citizens, either, in fact we will access the Government spying and take measures against those who do not think and do as we order".

    Inslee became a joke the minute he had Brad Smith of Microsoft be the head of his transition team.


    Posted Thu, Jul 18, 8:27 a.m. Inappropriate

    Nothing that WA state could do would have any meaningful effect on global warming. That can only be affected by national -- and particularly GLOBAL -- policies. WA state's emissions are a drop in the bucket, globally. So, Inslee's efforts are just an exercise in futility.

    And this is particularly stupid as an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: "ways to increase public transit."

    New (2013 model) cars are more energy-efficient than transit. And new cars are mandated to continue to become more and more energy-efficient through 2025. People generate fewer greenhouse gasses per passenger-mile by riding in new cars than by riding in public transit buses or trains.

    So, pushing public transit is not only a massive waste of tax dollars -- it does nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


    Posted Thu, Jul 18, 12:55 p.m. Inappropriate

    Gee, thanks, Mister Wet Blanket for killing everybody's "Goody goody we're doing something!" high with your bitter dose of reality.

    Meanwhile, The Tommy Smothers governorship continues...


    Posted Thu, Jul 18, 7:50 p.m. Inappropriate

    I think you are grossly simplifying the issue.

    An energy-efficient car carrying one person is NOT more energy efficient than a fully-loaded train or bus.
    The number of older cars on the road that are not efficient only exacerbates the problem.

    You may be anti-mass-transit, but you are wrong about potential impacts.


    Posted Thu, Jul 18, 9:07 p.m. Inappropriate

    And a bus carrying only one person is NOT more energy-efficient than a fully-loaded car or van.

    So, what?

    To get any meaningful data, you have to use the average load factor for all modes. The average car has more than one person in it, and the average bus or train is NOT fully-loaded.

    Every year millions of old cars are recycled and millions of new cars take their places. This is going to result in greater and greater energy-efficiency in the U.S. car fleet every single year.

    Even the average, 11-year-old car in the U.S. now is more energy-efficient that the average transit bus, and just about equal in energy-efficiency to the average light rail train.

    You may be a transit-pusher, but you have no grasp on reality.


    Posted Thu, Jul 18, 10:05 p.m. Inappropriate

    "Every year millions of old cars are recycled and millions of new cars take their places. This is going to result in greater and greater energy-efficiency in the U.S. car fleet every single year."

    And the overall number of cars will continue to increase, along with other sources, resulting in more emissions of GHGs and other pollutants, regardless of the efficiency of each vehicle in the fleet. We need to reduce the overall level of emissions, and very few are facing that reality (almost none of whom are in positions of power). The 2X4 of climate change will continue to beat on us until we change our behavior or it's too late. Or both.

    The problem is that the shift cannot be accomplished solely by government fiat or by individual actions. It is easy to imagine a Seattle with frequent hydro electrically powered transit everywhere and real bike routes, resulting in far lower GHG emissions, but the transition is not very doable short of crisis. We fight over building and replacing billion dollar bridges and tunnels to move more cars, buses, and trucks, and spend almost nothing on creating a low carbon infrastructure.


    Posted Thu, Jul 18, 10:08 p.m. Inappropriate

    A fleet of cathedral-domed bicycle rickshaws emits less carbon-based gas than a fully-loaded car or van of any size, shape or vintage. Unless of course the 11-year old rickshaw pullers have been eating beans.


    Posted Thu, Jul 18, 1:23 p.m. Inappropriate

    The first thing Inslee can do prevent a huge increase in WA GHG emissions is order the Dept. of Ecology, an executive branch agency, to not accept the federal environmental review(s) of the proposed coal export terminals as fulfilling all requirements under SEPA. DOE can instead also require review of the train and ship traffic, and climate impacts that will not be addressed by the site specific DEIS, which is all the Army Corps is going to require.

    Unless Inslee's just an Obama jaw flapping clone when it comes to climate.

    Steve E.

    Posted Thu, Jul 18, 2:19 p.m. Inappropriate

    The coal thing is a fake issue. It is strictly political and not environmental.
    Genuine Eco-person -
    Substitute high polluting fuel with low polluting fuel.
    Replace damaging extraction with clean(er) extraction
    Replace wasteful and costly transportation of material with more efficient transport
    The discussion of this topic in the Pugetopolis has been a kind of worship of the clergy over worship of the belief. Rational calculation and honest, critical journalism has been typically lacking.

    All that said, instead of casting about the planet looking for toady climate change options, why not just get started ? ! Is the Gov so "green" at this that he is unaware of immediate options ? I don't think that was the hype for his election !

    Eliminate hydrocarbon products from road and highways. New construction should be concrete only (look up the D donors re asphalt, etc.).

    Any government construction must include the carbon cost of both production and sequestration (a new Education Admin castle was built near me. They clearcut an urban forest, buried a seasonal creek w amphibians, and posted notice that there were no impacts). How much carbon does one tree reprocess in a year ? Anyone ?
    Eliminate government patronage lawns and replace them with higher processing plants and trees. Use native plants as groundcover.

    Require any change in traffic or signage to take into account increased emissions due to the resultant slowing and congestion of traffic. Require a public notice and remediation of resultant emission of carbon.

    Eliminate all patronage highway bush/plant whacking programs. Where absolutely necessary, replace current plants with no maintenance bushes and trees. Watching giant, honker diesel machines cutting the hay down along I-5 should make an Eco person nuts ! IT IS JUST PATRONAGE WORK !

    No more public buildings with cathedral design. Heating the extra airspace is anti environment, it is only an effort to inspire awe in the general public. For many of us, it has produced a reaction of contempt and class hatred.

    Turn off street lights - they do not address the issues they were marketed to cure. If someone, or some buiness wants lights on the street, have them contract and pay for them directly. We do not need nightly reminders of big brother on our neighborhood streets. They DO NOT make us safer and we do not need the light pollution.

    Put all traffic signals on blinking yellow after 8 pm. Turn them back on at 5 am. Spare us the crazy red lights in the middle of the nights.

    I could go on for quite a while, but I need to go and get some stuff done.


    Posted Thu, Jul 18, 7:54 p.m. Inappropriate

    I recently took a road trip through Colorado and noticed much of the state, including urban areas, do not have streetlights.

    Seems like that would be a good model, although Puget Sounders seem to think light equates to safety/control of the environment.

    I have never lived in an area with so much light pollution.


    Posted Fri, Jul 19, 12:40 a.m. Inappropriate

    Yes, it is amazingly hypocritical.
    Thanks for the observation.



    Posted Thu, Jul 18, 2:35 p.m. Inappropriate

    Thanks for the link to the document. I notice it says nothing about the last Governor's alarm concerning the acidification of Puget Sound, which has far more hard science behind it than the computer modeling behind global warming. If so, would not it be wisest to get to work on a serious matter actually within our means and our sole responsibility?

    And as for "Washington's" greenhouse gases, how about a pie chart that would both reveal what has not been counted (e.g. concrete production) and the mystery 8.3% that totally disappeared (99%-90.7% =8.3%)?

    Tommy Smothers was joking, this guy is for real. Time for Crosscut to consider actual investigative reporting maybe starting here:
    http://www.danielbbotkin.com/2013/03/04/carbon-dioxide-and-temperature-who-has-led-whom/ http://www.danielbbotkin.com/2013/05/24/novel-ecosystems-and-the-balance-of-nature/


    Posted Fri, Jul 19, 1:02 a.m. Inappropriate

    A couple of things .....

    My favorite is the assault and ongoing destruction of Lake Sammamish lo those many years ago. Once the County Council passed into solid D control and Gary Locke took over the reins of Exec, it took only 2 years for the lake to go eutrophic. Good luck finding the facts, history has been tweeked. Essentially, they opened up the platau for densification and even gave a pass on the Grand Ridge development they had fought for years.

    And, sorry, to counter concrete production ...... how much ozone and hydrocarbon emissions rise off asphalt roads each year in Seattle ? Who makes asphalt ? Does it come from oil ?
    Duh !


    Posted Fri, Jul 19, 2:19 a.m. Inappropriate

    I supported Inslee but am very discouraged with him. He has made the "Yakima Integrated Plan" a centerpiece of his administration. The centerpiece of the Yakima Plan is a new dam at Bumping Lake in the Cascades east of Mt. Rainier, which would destroy 1000 acres of prime ancient forest, some of the best remaining in the state.

    All this would do is store a little more water for Yakima valley irrigators who waste water on a Biblical scale. They treat water like it is free - wait a minute, it is, to them. Giant sprinklers spray water, much of which simply blows away or evaporates. Inslee's Yakima Plan does nothing to promote conservation, or charge these wasteful irrigators anything approaching the true cost of the water they waste.

    Inslee never stops talking about saving the world, but his actions say way more than his words. His Yakima Plan is nothing but a colossal giveaway to Big Ag water wasters. The public will be paying, and paying big, to increase their profits. Sad.

    Posted Fri, Jul 19, 3:12 a.m. Inappropriate

    The Bumping Lake Dam should be the poster child for the Seattle Metro Eco Community. It is a monster ! It will enshrine the complete hypocrisy of a "movement" that is closer to the bowels than to the divine. They have become so obsessed with politics that the actual manifestation of life and ecology has been sacrificed for the numbers on a tote board and the promotion of the parasitic and unctious sychophants in their costumes of lobbyists, attorneys, elected Masters, and all the other foul brethren of process over accomplishment.
    I hope they live long enough to suffer the pox.
    JM :-)
    The Bumping Lake watershed is gorgeous. Please drive over and see it before Inslee and Company (Inc.) submerges it underwater.
    Big Bad James


    Posted Fri, Jul 19, 8:07 p.m. Inappropriate

    Well, thank you for the trenchant observations.

    Seems like the word that comes closest to describing what has happened to the Seattle enviro movement is "bureaucratized." Back in the old days, it was mostly regular type folks working from their kitchen tables. Then some well meaning wealthy people decided to pour money in, lots of it, and hire people to go forth and save the world.

    It kinda sorta worked for a while, at least to some degree. But, gradually, maybe inevitably, the focus slowly changed from saving the world to keeping the funding rolling in. Things seem to have taken a big turn for the worse over the past few years, and you are spot on in calling Bumping the poster child for pretty much everything that has gone wrong in the enviro movement.

    One of the many ironies here is that Bumping will hardly even work to get them what they want, more water to waste. BuRec twice in the past rejected the idea, and they are hardly known for underestimating the "value" of dam projects. The watershed above Bumping is not big enough or rainy enough to justify a dam bigger than what is there now. An expanded reservoir won't reliably fill. The more level headed people in the Yakima valley (like the Yakima Basin Storage Alliance,) know this, and are against it. But Inslee and company forge on.

    I don't know what the solution is regarding the bureaucratized, "professional" enviro movement. There just aren't enough enviro volunteers with enough time available to do what needs doing. Maybe there is no solution. I won't join you in wishing the pox upon them - not all of them are bad, and of those that are, most I think started out wanting to do good. But seeing how easily they seem to be able to promote a new dam at Bumping Lake with a straight face, I shudder to think about what might be next. Pox, no, but funding cuts, yes! Please!

    Posted Sun, Jul 21, 11:03 a.m. Inappropriate

    I hate to break the news to you and Jamesa, but the beneficiaries of the Yakima Integrated Plan are not your hated Seattle dwelling urbanites, but water guzzling and wasting east Cascade slope agri-biz. Why Inslee is taking so many abysmal positions on virtually every environmental issue is a mystery to me. Its certainly not from trying to please west-side enviros.

    Steve E.

    Posted Fri, Jul 19, 11:21 a.m. Inappropriate

    I think afreeman has it right; Inslee could concentrate on what he actually has some standing to pursue, namely arresting the decline of Puget Sound. He might even accomplish something. Or he may decide instead to take on the easier task of grandstanding for global goodness. I think he's already made his choice.


    Posted Thu, Jul 25, 12:13 a.m. Inappropriate

    The state's "climate change" stuff is just one more example of how the "progressives" of Seattle have an insatiable need for empty self-affirmation. People here really need to find a different way to lift their spirits, such as light therapy in the winter. Not only is it cheaper, but likely much more effective.


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