Our Sponsors:

Read more »

Trending Stories

Our Members

Many thanks to Audra Adelberger and Nadine Oliver some of our many supporters.


Most Commented


    Governor's climate panel looks at uphill haul

    The state has set lofty goals for reducing greenhouse gases but emissions appear likely to increase.
    Jay Inslee

    Jay Inslee Photo: Thomas Soerenes/Flickr

    A cap-and-trade program on industrial emissions and a carbon tax  appear to be strong possibilities for consideration in the Washington Legislature soon.

    That's what the preliminary math seems to show. 

    In 2008, Washington's Legislature set a goal of reducing the state's greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, with further trimming emissions to 25 percent below Washington's 1990 level by 2035 and to 50 percent below by 2050. So far, nothing has happened. Early this year, Gov. Jay 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 Dec. 31.

    On Friday, the legislative task force's technical consultant, Science Application International Corp. of Virginia, provided the panel with predictions, targets and possible fix-it plans, all with the caveat that the figures still have to be fine-tuned.

    This is how the preliminary math unfolds. Washington carbon dioxide emissions totaled 88.4 million metric tons in 1990. The tally hit 96.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2010.

    If no new remedial measures are tackled and the state' population growth continues, those discharges will blast away all the lofty goals for reductions set five years ago. The 2008 law says that Washington's total carbon dioxide emissions must drop in steps to 44.2 million metric tons by 2050. Instead, emissions will grow throughout the coming decades, hitting135 million metric tons by 2050.

    Right now, there are 14 tons of carbon dioxide emissions for every Washingtonian, compared to a national average of 22 metric tons per person, according to SAIC. A 2011 state study sees Washington's population growing from 6.8 million this year to 7.4 million in 2020 and to 8.4 million in 2035. That population growth will hamper the state's efforts to trim its emissions.

    Some existing state and federal laws that have been passed, but not yet implemented, will cut some emissions, SAIC and state staffers said.

    An SAIC study looked at 13 potential policies to help trim the state's carbon dioxide emissions. Each policy is able to tackle only a small fraction of the overall problem.

    The most potent proposed policy would be to install a cap-and-trade program in which Washington would have an overall annual limit to its carbon dioxide emissions. Limits would be set for specific geographic areas. Firms would obtain rights for specific amounts of emissions in those areas. And the companies would be able to swap, buy and sell their rights to each other.

    The SAIC analysis of cap-and-trade used different numbers that those set by the 2008 Washington law. Under a scenario in SAIC's report, a cap-and-trade arrangement could trim the carbon dioxide emissions by 29 metric tons by 2050, bringing the state a good way toward meeting its goal.

    Of the 13 possible new policies that could be used in Washington to combat carbon dioxide emissions, SAIC list only three with the potential of significant reductions — cap-and-trade, a carbon tax and low-carbon fuel standards.

    A carbon tax is simply a levy on a firm's carbon dioxide emissions, which is supposed to inspire a business to decrease its emissions to lower its tax bill. Since transportation emissions account for 44 percent of Washington's carbon dioxide output, requiring lower carbon levels in fuel mixes would help, the report said. The other 10 potential measures address public transit, wind power, ocean power, other clean energy sources,  landfill methane capture, plus technical tweaks in fuels and vehicles. These measures  will have lesser impacts, SAIC's  report said.

    Many of the reports' calculations are preliminary and many variables are still unknown, making concrete conclusions difficult at this time. But the indications are that several of the 13 possible policies need to be implemented to meet the 2008 legal carbon dioxide emission goals. That means a cap-and-trade program and a carbon tax will likely be needed to get the numbers to add up to reach those goals.

    Like what you just read? Support high quality local journalism. Become a member of Crosscut today!


    Posted Sat, Sep 28, 8:28 a.m. Inappropriate

    How remarkable it will be if Jay Inslee does anything more substantive than was done in 2008, basking in the limelight of praised-for intentions but in reality doing essentially nothing to address a significant problem. A reminder--"In 2008, Washington's Legislature set a goal of reducing the state's greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, with further trimming emissions to 25 percent below Washington's 1990 level by 2035 and to 50 percent below by 2050. So far, nothing has happened."
    Why? Because as noted later population growth--what the state promotes and rewards in order to continue pursuing an assumed unlimited growth--has continued its rapid growth, primarily fueled by the illegal and legal immigration that has been encouraged and rewarded by politicians like Inslee in the hope that a changing demography rewards his party's aspirations. Thus power and money continue trumping real action, and seriously unsustainable factors continue leading us toward an inevitable disaster.

    Posted Sat, Sep 28, 12:58 p.m. Inappropriate

    None of the "progressives" in this state have ever once cared about pollution. This is entirely about the state Democratic Party's reason for existence: raising taxes. If they cared about pollution, they wouldn't have banned plastic bags, which are the least polluting way to bag groceries. (For proof, google "UK grocery carrier bags" and click on the first link.) They wouldn't be intentionally making traffic congestion worse in Seattle, even down to the refusal to synchronize traffic lights.

    They wouldn't be trying to penalize hydroelectricity. They wouldn't be subsidizing solar while ignoring geothermal heat pumps. They wouldn't be penalizing electric cars with a flat $100 road use tax, while letting bicycles off scot-free. They wouldn't be pushing farmers markets, which are absolute energy hogs. They wouldn't have installed light rail, which on a total lifecycle basis will add to emissions here.

    The so-called climate change plans here are just one more exercise in "progressive" phoniness and hypocrisy. It's classic Seattle posing to hide classic "progressive" dishonesty. And it'll be the next tax increase promoted by Inslee, who like McGinn before him thought no one would notice that he told a whopping lie to get himself elected.


    Posted Tue, Oct 1, 4:59 p.m. Inappropriate

    Nicely left off some important conclusions of the plastic bag study I see:
    In five of the eight impact categories, including acidification, human, aquatic and terrestrial toxicity, the (plastic) bag production process has the largest lifecycle impact. This results from the use of Chinese grid electricity assumed and/or the disposal of ash from
    coal burning. The impact of the building, maintenance and use of the transmission network used to deliver grid electricity
    also influences the terrestrial ecotoxicity of the HDPE bag.
    The extraction and production of materials has the largest impact in the other three of the eight impact categories and is influential in a number of others. For toxicity and ecotoxicity, where resource use in not the main influence, the use of titanium dioxide has
    a significant impact on the material lifecycle stage despite being only 2 per cent of the bags’ weight.

    The study also makes an assumption that 40% of the plastic carry bags are used by folks for "bin liners" and they calculate the carbon saving of having to make those bags. Fair enough. But - they explictly say they don't include other effects such as litter and where the heck they go after that and that their goal did not include analyzing the long-term life cycle of the plastic if released into the environment. Plastic does not disappear in the ocean - it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces until it gets to comparable size of plankton - and is some areas of the ocean clearly is in higher densities than plankton - not to mention those bags swallowed by sea birds, seals, whales, etc.

    So, nice chaff - did you even read the article or jus the byline as usual"


    Posted Wed, Oct 2, 6:27 p.m. Inappropriate

    Typical "progressive" who cherry picks through a very complete report by the British equivalent of the E.P.A. to find the one sentence that might kinda-sorta support the hivemind's ignorance. In fact, read in any kind of fair and orderly manner, that report utterly eviscerates the case for banning disposable plastic bags.

    Does every single bit of evidence point in one direction? Of course not. That only happens in North Korea, and in the Seattle "progressive" hivemind. But the overwhelming weight of the evidence is very heavily in favor of disposable plastic grocery bags. In fact, it leans that way to a degree that really surprised me. I had always thought paper and plastic were about equal, but in fact paper is responsible for 16 times the water pollution, 4 times the air pollution, and 4 times the global warming emissions.

    Let's face it: A Seattle "progressive" can never, ever be swayed by evidence. Just like his cousin, Sarah Palin, he chooses faith over science. The difference? I've never once heard Palin claim she was anything other than a lying idiot. You people don't deserve any more respect that I give to Rick Santorum, or Ted Cruz, or any of your other whackjob, wingnut first cousins on the other side of the holler.


    Posted Thu, Oct 3, 8:58 a.m. Inappropriate

    Nice try - you cited an article in your argument - it doesn't say what you say it did. Case closed. Now that this argument has been blown out of the water, what's your next move?


    Posted Sat, Sep 28, 10:58 p.m. Inappropriate

    The first two posts are right on the money.

    Inslee promotes population growth, which is the main reason for all the pollution and traffic problems in our state. Obviously, Inslee is a hypocrite to promote population growth while wringing his hands over greenhouse gas emissions.

    Secondly, there is nothing that the State of WA can do that will have any meaningful impact whatsoever on GLOBAL climate change.

    Inslee, like Mayor McGinn, is just a silly little twit trying to use "climate change" to further his personal political ambitions.


    Posted Tue, Oct 1, 11:13 a.m. Inappropriate

    "Population growth is the main reason for all the pollution." - So... what? Give up? Take your ball and go home? Call him and hypocrite and do nothing? The MOST BASIC premise of a successful private sector business is to get the same or MORE production out of the less or the same amount of resources. That's what the state is trying to do. The truth is, we don't even do the stupidly obvious stuff to make our economy more energy efficient, and if we did, we could hit these targets. Other places have done it. Our per-capita CO2 emissions are dropping. We need to continue the trend.

    "There is nothing that the State of WA can do that will have any meaningful impact whatsoever on GLOBAL climate change." - So... again, what? Do NOTHING? This is the tired old trope of "no one else is recycling, so it makes no difference if I do." Well, the citizens of Seattle have proven that wrong, haven't we? We all individually had to put cans in a separate bin to make it work. But the fact is, IT WORKED. California (12 largest economy in the world BY ITSELF) is doing similar stuff. So is New York. And now we are. Does all of THAT have a significant Global effect? And if not, are you arguing that we should DO NOTHING? What's the alternative? Wait around to see if the problem magically goes away?

    I find it really frustrating for someone to lobby against taking action, but offer zero in the way of alternatives. It's just denial for the sake of denial. We get it - a lot of people don't like the idea of changing anything. Fine. You're not going to lead? Your other options are follow and get out of the way.


    Posted Tue, Oct 1, 4:50 p.m. Inappropriate


    1. Stop the construction of light rail.

    2. Repeal the plastic bag ban.

    3. End support for farmers markets.

    4. Synchronize traffic lights.

    5. End subsidizes for solar and use the money to support ground source heat pumps and electric cars instead.

    There are your alternatives. But, like I say, Seattle's phony "progressives" have never been once interested in reducing pollution, and they never will be.


    Posted Sat, Oct 5, 4:17 p.m. Inappropriate

    Assuming the steps you propose were taken, please tell us the impact on GHG emissions in Washington State.

    Steve E.

    Posted Tue, Oct 15, 8:49 a.m. Inappropriate

    When you pass laws that require not respecting the law and provide many benefits that reward illegal and legal immigrants..then you are doing all you can to increase the major contributor to our too rapid and clearly unsustainable population growth. Large numbers of people respond to the many rewards because they are desperate to escape home country unsustainability, whether in Mexico or Dagestan/Rwanda/Bangledesh/India etc. Inslee wants their votes and that of the large bureaucracy that has formed to continue this policy that is strongly supported by big money/U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
    Thus Inslee is a hypocrite on all ecological and resource depletion issues.

    Posted Mon, Oct 7, 9:35 p.m. Inappropriate

    Well, here's a guy who had to take out a home equity loan to re-roof his house, so I'd say I'd rather have him working on hot air than trying to tackle the State's finances. Let's leave that to the adults.


    Posted Mon, Sep 30, 10:40 p.m. Inappropriate

    Thank you for your reporting on this story. Time to act. State leadership on ghg reduction measures, policies and technologies will reward the state handsomely.


    Posted Tue, Oct 1, 2:47 p.m. Inappropriate

    Greenhouse gases is the new catch phrase to dig into your wallet, again.

    What ever happened to stormwater pollution? Article I just read stated that the oceans are heating up and it is the major side effect of global (warming) climate change. Oil running off roads creates a film, much like a black tarp over a swimming pool, so instead of reflecting the suns rays its absorbing them. Third grade science class at a public school taught me that.

    Maybe the experts should take 3rd grade over.


    Posted Tue, Oct 1, 5:11 p.m. Inappropriate

    I absolutely believe that none of the "progressives" have even the slightest actual interest in the GHG issue. This is one of those cases where only a fool would take them at face value.


    Posted Tue, Oct 1, 7:35 p.m. Inappropriate

    Well, now that your earlier premise has been thoroughly trashed because someone actually read the article you cited to back you up - but factually didn't -- why not continue the arm waving as a substitute for any fact driven argument. Oh, I forgot.

    You never actually depend on facts, logical thought process, or a reasoned analysis. There is, I suppose, something to be said about consistency.

    Maybe you can rally and provide a fact based analysis or at least a witty retort sans the "p" word. But I seriously doubt it.

    Dumbass rant in 3, 2, 1......


    Posted Sat, Oct 5, 12:01 p.m. Inappropriate

    "Prove the sky is blue," says the typical Seattle "progressive" who cannot bear to be wrong about anything.


    Posted Sat, Oct 5, 7:20 p.m. Inappropriate

    What's with the constant use of "progressive" in all the posts???? Please have something intelligent to contribute or don't bother to spam up the site. I know, I know ---- don't feed the troll -- but the sheer volume of this nonsense is getting a bit much and you two are clogging up the comments.


    Posted Sun, Oct 6, 10:22 p.m. Inappropriate

    Well, Lily32, the short answer is that I delight in irritating the typical phonies and hypocrites who populate Seattle politics, defining their own preferences and naked self-interest as synonymous with the public good. You don't like it? Excellent! I find that "progressives" are by far the most apt to object to being mocked and called out for the frauds they are. Congratulations for joining that crowd!

    You "progressives" have a number of signature traits. Close to the top of the list is your overweening, undeserved, arrogant, over-inflated estimation of your relative intelligence. The Seattle "progressive" -- yes, Lily32, that includes YOU -- regards him- or herself as, well, smarter and better than everyone else. You know, sort of like how Sarah Palin thinks she's more godly than everyone else, and more patriotic.

    So please, Lily32, find your way to the luxury box at Husky Stadium and join Cousin Sarah for a faith-based cheer to yourselves and your righteousness. Meanwhile, both of you might occasionally pause to realize that the fastest-growing political party in America is alternatively called "independent" or "a pox on both your houses" or "could you please realize that you put your pants on one leg at a time?"

    Condescend much, Lily32? That's another "progressive" trait. Must be a real bummer to know that someone's got your number, eh?


    Posted Mon, Oct 7, 9:03 p.m. Inappropriate

    I suppose "dumbass" is okay? First of all, I won't bother to debate the religion of AGW or whatever it is being called now. The earth has gone through cold periods, it has gone through warm periods. It will continue to do so. The "science" will play out as false along with "global cooling" the population explosion which was to have us all starving by now, etc. Hey, as long as it keeps Inslee busy as in not scheming to raise taxes.


    Posted Mon, Oct 7, 7:12 a.m. Inappropriate

    Holy crap


    Posted Mon, Oct 7, 7:45 a.m. Inappropriate

    Exactly. My apologies. This is not the case with most commenters here. You'll notice the air gets taken out of the room, (meaningful) conversation stops, and folks head for the exits as soon as he shows up. On a mission to save us from the "p"s.

    You're right. DFTT.

    Good luck.


    Posted Mon, Oct 7, 1:18 p.m. Inappropriate

    I should know better. It's the internet. Thanks for the heads up.

    I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.
    -------------Maggie Thatcher


    Login or register to add your voice to the conversation.

    Join Crosscut now!
    Subscribe to our Newsletter

    Follow Us »